Downtown Clayton is becoming the nightlife capital of Johnston County, but its ABC law could be holding it back.
For the second year in a row, the Clayton Town Council will consider revisiting some of the town’s alcohol regulations, which are among the county’s more restrictive.
Clayton voters passed the town’s current alcohol rules in a 1997 referendum. That vote, with 60 percent support, limited beer sales to hotels, motels and restaurants but also allowed ABC stores and mixed drinks. The Town Council considered putting changes on the ballot last year after its laws required a craft beer store to obtain a costlier “private club” ABC license to serve beer. But ultimately, the council passed on a referendum.
During Monday’s council meeting, Downtown Development Association President James Lipscomb asked the council to look at Clayton’s ABC laws again. He suggested the town form a task force to explore how Clayton’s alcohol laws affect different businesses.
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“I don’t have a specific request tonight, “ Lipscomb. “I just wanted to the town to look at what’s possible.”
Lipscomb singled out Wine on Main as the business most affected by current law. The wine shop sells wine and beer by the bottle for off-premise consumption. It also pours wine by the glass but is prohibited by law from doing the same for beer.
“It’s a disadvantage,” Lipscomb said.
Temple Phipps, one of the owners of Wine on Main, said the law sometimes cuts into how long some couples and groups spend at the wine shop.
“There are a lot of wine lovers in the community,” she said. “But sometimes couples can’t come in or don’t stay very long because maybe one enjoys wine and the other prefers beer. It kind of pigeon holes us. If the regulations change, it would help open up the demographics of our customers.”
Town Manager Steve Biggs said that if the council wanted to pursue a referendum, it still time to get any proposed changes on the November ballot.
Archer Lodge is considering a referendum to define alcohol sales in that town. At their last Town Council meeting, Archer Lodge leaders were unsure if they needed a referendum or if county alcohol laws would suffice.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdjackson