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Gainesville looks at starting happy hour
Code currently prohibits reducing prices of drinks
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Gainesville may soon see happier hours.

The Gainesville City Council has asked city staff to find a way to allow for "happy hours" in the city’s alcoholic beverage ordinances.

Until then, other expected updates to Gainesville’s alcohol ordinances that align the city’s rules with recent state laws will have to wait.

Gainesville’s City Marshal Debbie Jones presented to the City Council on Thursday a list of changes to the city’s alcoholic beverage ordinances that mirror recent changes to state laws.

The proposed ordinance amendments allow restaurant patrons to take home partially consumed bottles of wine, allows restaurants near churches to sell alcohol and changes the rules for wine-tasting events.

The changes were expected after a slew of relaxed state regulations regarding the sale of alcohol became effective July 1.

Other changes allow those applying for a license to sell alcoholic beverages to prorate their fees if they apply for a license after July 1.

Those who apply for a license after July 1 only will pay half the annual licensing fees, according to the proposed changes.

The council would have voted on the changes at its Tuesday council meeting.

However, council members decided to hold off on making the changes official until Jones could investigate how the city could change its alcoholic beverage ordinances to allow for happy hours, or times when restaurants could sell their beverages at a reduced price.

Council members discussed a desire to allow city restaurants to have an early evening happy hour, but not a late-night one.

Currently, the city’s code prohibits any person who holds a license to sell alcoholic beverages by the drink from offering, selling or serving drinks at a reduced price.

Jones told council members Thursday that she will research other cities’ alcoholic beverage ordinances, and City Manager Bryan Shuler said the changes should be ready for the council to discuss and vote on by its Aug. 5 meeting.

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