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County restaurants promote liquor sales vote

Randy Burleson, owner of Aubrey’s restaurants, wants voters to understand the liquor-by-the-drink amendment on the November ballot.

“This is about giving County restaurants the right to serve just like City restaurants,” Burleson said.

“All this is doing is allowing a restaurant, like an Aubrey’s, to serve a mixed drink rather than a glass of wine or beer,” he added. Both Knoxville and Farragut allow liquor by the drink sales in restaurants. Knox County allows restaurants to serve only beer.

Burleson, with Citizens for Home Rule, led the petition drive to allow liquor-by-the-drink sales on the ballot. The group collected more than 21,000 signatures, although Greg Mackay, Knox County administrator of elections, did not count signatures from city or Farragut residents.

According to Burleson, liquor-by-the-drink sales in Knox County actually would increase the safety of drinkers and the general public.

He said restaurants provide a triple layer of protection for drinkers: waiters, managers and owners each supervise the amount and rate of alcohol served to restaurant patrons.

“You’ve got three lines of protection versus someone brown-bagging,” Burleson said.

Brown-bagging can be a problem when no one supervises a patron’s alcohol consumption, he added.

“Right now, [patrons] can self-intoxicate themselves, pouring heavy pours and pouring faster than they should be drinking,” Burleson said.

“And if they are going to drink, we want them drinking closer to home so they can get home safely, rather than drive halfway across the County,” he added.

“What we’re trying to do is serve [alcohol] more controlled and raise tax revenue for the County.”

Burleson said County communities such as Halls and Hardin Valley might be able to entice better restaurants.

“It would increase the ability of these communities to get restaurants. And I would say that a restaurant is a big part of making a community,” Burleson said.

“You know, property values in those areas would go up and more restaurants, chains or locals, open up.

“It increases value around an area; increases community awareness,” he added.

In addition, passing the amendment would put a halt to finger annexations into the City of Knoxville.

“Most people have been very positive” about the proposed amendment, Burleson said.


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