Morrow moving to allow off-site alcohol sales

Alcohol may soon be allowed to flow at catered events in the City of Morrow, if the city council passes a proposed ordinance to permit off-premises alcohol sales.

City code section 9-2-62 currently mandates that is “shall be unlawful for any sale [of alcohol] to be made outside of the building, premises or place of business licensed for sales, except as permitted herein.”

A pending ordinance to remove that restriction was introduced Tuesday at a Morrow City Council meeting, although little discussion took place on the proposed change.

The revision would open the door for owners of licensed restaurants and package stores to begin selling alcohol outside of business establishments, mainly at conference events they are catering within the city limits, if the council passes the ordinance, according to Morrow City Manager Jeff Eady.

“This alcohol ordinance is for catering, mainly at the Morrow Center,” said Eady, in the only remarks made Tuesday to explain the proposed ordinance. He was referring to the city-owned conference center, located at Southlake Mall.

The Morrow City Council is expected to take up the alcohol ordinance at a later date, likely as soon as its Oct. 25 meeting. The ordinance lists that day as the date for its second reading. The city council typically votes on proposed ordinances on the day of the second reading.

The proposed ordinance would change the city’s alcohol sales laws, to include a code section which states: “Any licensed alcoholic beverage retail dealer, whether for package sales or on-premise consumption, may apply to the City for an off-premise license to serve alcoholic beverages for catered functions.

“The license shall restrict the holder to sale of beverages authorized by its primary license issued by the City and the State of Georgia.”

The fee to obtain a license for off-premises alcohol sales “for catered functions,” would be $200, according to the proposed ordinance.

Any restaurant, or package store licensed for beverage catering by a city, or county, outside of Morrow will be required to show proof of having such a license, and pay a $50 event fee (per event), to cater a party or gala in the city, according to the ordinance.

The proposed law also mandates that caterers would have to collect, and remit, excise and sales taxes on the alcohol sold at the events.

Passage of the ordinance would open up alcohol options for groups holding meetings and conferences at the Morrow Center. With the city’s existing alcohol laws in place, the center’s rules stipulate “alcohol beverage service is provided exclusively by [the] Morrow Center, or its authorized provider.” The proposed change would open that service to Morrow restaurants and package stores.

There would be limits to off-premises alcohol sales, however. The ordinance states that no alcohol can be served at a catered event on days, and during hours, when the city already prohibits alcohol sales. Existing city code stipulates that alcohol cannot be sold between midnight and 8 a.m., or on Sundays, Christmas Day, or other days when alcohol sales are prohibited by state law.