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New bill may allow smaller restaurants to sell liquor

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Before Tuesday night, small bars and restaurants couldn't sell liquor or possess a liquor license because they didn't meet the requirement of having a certain number of patrons they served in a night.

But Tuesday the City Council agreed that those establishments should have the opportunity passing a new proposal that would make it easier for small restaurants in the Riverside and Avondale areas to serve liquor.

The City Council voted 6-0 in favor of the resolution that is the latest attempt to allow smaller restaurants in the neighborhood to serve spirits.

"The idea of allowing smaller restaurants to sell alcohol is a good thing for them because it allows them a little bit better profit margin so they can survive during hard times," city councilman Jim Love said.

Love helped introduce the bill in hopes of putting smaller restaurants on the same playing field as larger ones.

He said that right now, restaurants that can hold more than 150 people, and have a space of more than 2,500 square feet are the only establishments that can sell liquor.

"Those with 150 and above, they have the ability to sell alcohol. Actually liquor, when they pay their roughly $4,000 annual fee. The smaller restaurants don't have that opportunity at all. They're not allowed to. So this bill will allow those with 100 seats and up to 1,800 square feet or larger to actually do it. Before they could not do it," Love said. "There are a lot of drinks that people like and ask for and they have to be told right now, ‘I'm sorry we can't serve spirits here,' and they'll go to a different restaurants because they can. So I just put smaller restaurants on the same par as middle size and larger restaurants."

The bill will now head to the Duval Delegation and then to Tallahassee for approval. Love said he is confident the bill will go through.