Restaurant patrons in downtown Gainesville can start taking their alcoholic beverages outside and strolling around starting at noon Wednesday.
Public drinking is now permitted after the City Council approved a revamped alcohol ordinance by a 4-1 vote. The changes introduces new guidelines within a newly established downtown dining district.
“I think this will be good for businesses downtown,” Mayor Danny Dunagan said after signing the ordinance. “I think it’s going to help a lot. It’s going to nice for people to meet and mingle at the downtown square. It’s going to be a nice place.”
City Manager Bryan Lackey said tourism officials would begin talking with business owners one on one to explain the changes.
“I don’t think it’ll be big until Thursday and Friday night,” Lackey said. “We got tomorrow and Thursday to talk to (business owners) about it.”
Under the new rules adopted, pedestrians can take any alcoholic drink outside within the dining district, as long as the drink is in a clear plastic cup and is no larger than 16 ounces. The downtown dining district carved out is bordered by Jesse Jewell Parkway, E.E. Butler Parkway, Academy Street and West Academy Street.
“It just gives us a solid set of guidelines to go by,” Lackey said. “It’s clear, size, the area and the times. Everybody understands that.”
Councilman George Wangemann voted against the proposal on both readings, indicating it’s not the direction Gainesville should be moving.
“We do not need open bars in Gainesville,” Wangemann told The Times earlier.
The new rules also allow breweries to sell beer to customers directly beginning Sept. 1. Dunagan said the change is in step with state law enacted earlier this year.
Currently, breweries had been limited to offering samples during tours. In a few weeks they would be allowed to sell beer by the pint, six-pack and case.