Lancaster liquor law passed, but permit process still underway

joverman@fortmilltimes.comNovember 19, 2012 

— Just a few weeks after election day, some Lancaster County restaurants can already sip beer and wine at restaurants on Sundays. Liquor will take a little longer.

The referendum to allow liquor by the drink on Sundays passed with 57.98 percent of the vote. According to South Carolina Alcohol Beverage Licensing, permits for liquor by the drink Sunday sales will be issued as soon as possible, likely in the next few weeks. Changes have to be made to the ABL licensing computer systems to allow them to print Sunday liquor licenses for Lancaster County, a process that might take up to two weeks.

“We’re telling people it may take several weeks but I’m hoping by the work week following Thanksgiving, [businesses] in Lancaster can get liquor by the drink permits,” said Dana Krajack of ABL.

In the meantime, a South Carolina statute allowed businesses that already hold on-premise beer and wine permits to begin serving beer and wine on Sundays immediately after the referendum was certified, he said.

Indian Land resident Elissa Boyet was one of the major backers of the referendum. She hoped that allowing Sunday alcohol sales at restaurants will encourage more restaurants to build in the area and support the bottom lines of the restaurants that already call Lancaster County “home.”

“I’m really pleased that the people came out and voted positively for us, and I hope we see more restaurants come and that the ones that are already there will apply for permits to serve,” she said.

Before the general election, Boyet was contacted by a developer in the area that she asked not be named. He was working with several restaurants, she said, and wanted more information about the alcohol referendum.

“He couldn’t tell me who, but he had restaurants interested,” she said. “They could come now, because of this. They knew this was coming down the pipes.”

Shane’s Rib Shack, which opened in June near Walmart on Hwy. 521, also plans to take advantage of the Sunday alcohol sales option, though owner Craig Willers said he has not yet begun selling beer and wine on Sunday.

Willers wanted to make sure he followed all rules and regulations before he poured that first glass, but expected to start in the next few weeks “for sure.”

“We’re happy to do it,” she said, “Especially during football season to add some revenue there,” Willers said.

Willers also owns two restaurants in Charlotte, where Sunday alcohol sales have been big business for him. He expects restaurants in Lancaster County will be pleased with the revenue increase they’ll see from Sunday alcohol sales.

“I think it’ll help a lot, especially in the hospitality industry, especially with the proximity to Charlotte. That business was just hopping over the state line to enjoy some cold beverages while they watch football. Now they can stay in their own county,” he said.

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