What the ballot question says: “Shall the governing authority of the City of Lula be authorized to issue licenses to sell distilled spirits for beverage purposes by the drink, such sales to be for consumption only on the premises?”
What’s legal now: Beer and wine package sales at local stores Monday through Saturday.
Kim Johnson isn’t interested in putting a bar in her newly opened restaurant off Main Street in Lula — nor does she really have the room for it.
But because she and husband Bruce Johnson of At The Tracks are interested in serving beer and wine at some point, they plan to pay attention to a Nov. 8 ballot question on liquor by the drink.
Specifically, the referendum asks voters in the northeast Hall city if they’re OK with restaurants and other establishments selling liquor.
“If it doesn’t pass, we’ll just continue on as we are,” Kim Johnson said. “We’re fine either way.”
Technically, the vote doesn’t cover beer and wine sales, as voter approval isn’t needed to allow them. However, they could be part of a comprehensive alcoholic beverages ordinance that would need to be crafted if the city wants to enact voter-approved liquor by the drink.
Currently, only beer and wine package sales are allowed in Lula Monday through Saturday. The city has decided to not put on the ballot a separate referendum asking voters if they want liquor sales on Sunday.
Lula officials kicked the whole alcohol issue around for a few months before voting in July to put the question on the ballot.
“We think that, to get some progress coming on Ga. 365, we’re going to have the liquor voted in, so I hope the people vote for it,” Councilman Garnett Smith has said.
The vote wasn’t unanimous, as Councilman Lamb Griffin chose to abstain.
“I was always strict in church and all … it was just the way I was raised,” he said afterward. “I represent the city of Lula. I want to see the city grow and do good, and I’ve also got to stand for my beliefs.”
And so do others, judging by the sprinkling of “Vote No” signs along Main Street.
One of the opponents is Brenda Wiley, who lives on Main Street, and she gets straight to the point with her beliefs. The notion that allowing liquor sales in restaurants will help draw big-name restaurants to the town “is a bunch of crock,” she said.
“They can put something else up here besides that,” Wiley said.
“The thing is Ga. 365 is just right there,” she said. “If they get drunk (there) and go over here, are we willing to sacrifice someone in our family just so they can sell liquor?”
Stacy Giles, owner of The Hair Depot on Main Street, also doesn’t support liquor sales in town.
“I think it’s great to draw people in, but I think you can do it without the alcohol,” she said, as she swept hair clippings from her shop’s floor.
“I would still go to (a restaurant) even if they served alcohol, but I think it would be great if they didn’t.”
A quick poll of random lunchtime diners at At The Tracks showed a split over the issue.
Ed Barrett, sitting with sister Joyce McDonald, said he opposed liquor.
“I am a fairly religious person and Christ turned water into wine, so it’s not morally wrong to drink,” Barrett said. “But I had a father-in-law who was an alcoholic, so that shapes your mind a lot more than normal.
“While not morally wrong, (alcohol) is a bad thing for people. Because of the problem over the United States with alcohol, that would be the reason I would vote against it.”
Andrew Jordan and Hank Parker said they understood the morality issues involved.
“But in the world we live in, I don’t think that’s…” Jordan started.
“There are probably worse things to worry about,” Parker finished, drawing a laugh and agreement from Jordan across the table.
“If you want some of the bigger businesses to come in, they want to sell alcohol,” Jordan said.
“And we’re small business owners,” Parker said. “So I understand if (liquor sales) is a point for these businesses to grow, then they would need that.”