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Papas Pizza To-Go seeks to leave Clermont, convert to sports bar
Clermont restaurant Papa’s Pizza To-Go has made a request to deannex from Clermont to apply for a permit to serve alcohol. Clermont is a dry town that Town Council voted in July would remain that way.

Town Council meeting

What: Clermont Town Council set to consider Papa’s Pizza To-Go deannexation request
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Clermont Chattahoochee Center, 639 Main St.
Contact: 770-983-7568

In a rare request, a North Hall County pizzeria is seeking to leave Clermont so it can convert to a sports bar and serve alcohol.

Clermont is a dry town and plans to stay that way, with the Town Council voting this past July to keep in force the ordinance banning the sale of beer and wine.

Plans for the project weren’t known Wednesday as Chris Nonnemaker, owner of Papa’s Pizza To-Go, couldn’t be reached for comment.

The restaurant at 6483 Cleveland Highway, north of Oxford Road, is part of a nearly 6-acre tract that would be deannexed from Clermont.

Politically, the issue is moving through both the Clermont Town Council and the Hall County Board of Commissioners.

The council is set to discuss the matter at its monthly meeting set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Clermont Chattahoochee Center, 639 Main St.

“We’ll have to go through the process just like annexing,” Mayor James Nix said, adding the request would be framed as an ordinance, which requires a public hearing. “... You can deannex it, or you can refuse to.”

He noted the property is at the edge of town, so its deannexation wouldn’t create an “island,” or unincorporated property surrounded by city boundaries.

The county commission, which discussed the issue at Monday’s work session, also must pass a resolution acknowledging the deannexation request.

If Clermont OKs the deannexation, the property owner would have more hoops to jump through to start the sports bar, including going through the planning commission and getting the county commission’s approval for proper zoning, Hall Planning Director Srikanth Yamala said.

“Are they going to have any problems getting an alcohol license?” commission Chairman Richard Mecum asked at the Monday meeting.

“Not to my knowledge,” Yamala said.

Nix said this is the first deannexation request he has seen.

And longtime Commissioner Billy Powell said, “This is the first one in my tenure.”

“We’ve had one before, maybe two,” County Attorney Bill Blalock said.

The alcohol issue in Clermont was a bit of a thorny one this past spring.

El Rey Mexican Restaurant and Happy Food Mart in Clermont, both on U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway, pushed the town of about 900 to look at changing local law banning the “sale, distribution or service” of any malt beverages, wine or distilled spirits.

Both said they had customers leaving their premises as soon as they enter after hearing the establishments don’t sell beer and wine.

Residents got to air their opinions at a town hall meeting on the issue.

In July, within the first five minutes of the Town Council meeting, a motion was made to let the ordinance stand.

“I don’t think this’ll ever completely die out,” Nix said at the time. “But for right now we’re seeing that we’re not going to change anything.”

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