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Liquor by the Drink Laws Change in Some Counties Along I-95

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HALIFAX COUNTY — Getting a cocktail or beer at a restaurant or bar is something people take for granted in most parts of the country. In North Carolina, it is still hit or miss.

The state has a hodgepodge of alcohol laws; some counties are dry, others allow only beer and wine sales.

But soon, establishments within two miles of Interstate 95 will be able to open the taps and start serving -- even if the county is dry.

Travelers off I-95 in Halifax County can now enjoy more than a mug of beer or a glass of wine with their meal. A new law allows establishments to serve mixed drinks.

"We really see this as a tool for economic development and growth, new jobs and an increased tax base," says Brenda Blackburn, of the Roanoke Rapids Chamber of Commerce.

Blackburn says in the past, restaurants have chosen not to build in the county because they do not have liquor by the drink. But that has already changed.

"We already have a number of restaurants that have expressed interest, have looked at our community. We hope in the next six to nine months to see construction under way," she says.

Thea Zacharopoulos works at Milano's Restaurant and says she has lost customers because of the old liquor law.

"They ask directions, like 'Where is the closest place?' And I say '45 minutes away.' But they'll go," she says.

Reverend Tom Johnson is against liquor by the drink for three reasons: he says the issue should have come to a vote, it desensitizes the moral environment of the community and it could contribute to alcoholism.

"I certainly think anytime you make something more readily available we're increasing the opportunity and the chances of someone's abuse and their possible demise," says Johnson.

This change affects businesses in Halifax, Northampton, Robeson and Duplin Counties. It also affects historic resorts, businesses near scenic highways and some golf resorts near the coast. Reporter: Lynda Loveland


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