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Charlotte bar, restaurant business owners push for ‘social district’ approval

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Bars and restaurants struggling to rebound from the pandemic may have new hope. Business owners in Charlotte’s Plaza Midwood and NoDa neighborhoods are wanting to take “take out” to a new level by creating social districts — designated areas where patrons are permitted to take their drinks out on the streets.

Last fall, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed a bill that gives cities the authority to create social districts where patrons will not get cited for walking around with opened beer or wine.

Attorney Russell Ferguson with the Plaza Midwood Merchants Association says signs would clearly mark where adults can legally and openly drink alcohol, and that walkable neighborhoods such as Plaza Midwood are ideal for the idea.

“We want to make sure it’s a thriving vibrant city,” Ferguson said.

“Businesses that are participating will use take out cups and pour the beverages. Those cups will have the name of the business, so there’s some accountability there,” he said.

Charlotte City Council would need to approve the plan.

“There will obviously be safety concerns we need to get out in front of,” councilman Larken Egleston said. “That’s why doing a pilot or a test in one or two specific areas before we roll it is critically important.”

Channel 9 learned there is currently no timeline for city council to consider and vote on creating social districts, but many bar and restaurant owners want it greenlight by the spring or early summer so they can seize the opportunity of great weather.

In October, the city of Kannapolis took steps to designate part of their revitalized downtown as a social district.

(WATCH: What the future holds for downtown Kannapolis’ ‘social district’)