The city of LaGrange will take a closer look at how “brown bagging” is regulated in the city after the first draft of an ordinance change was shot down by city council.
A proposal made at council’s Tuesday work session would have called for all establishments who “brown bag” to stop allowing alcohol consumption at midnight every night and called for other new requirements. But council members who opposed the change said restaurants with a liquor license are allowed to serve until 2 a.m.
“Brown bagging” is the practice of a commercial establishment, like a catering hall, to allow patrons to bring in their own alcoholic drinks. It gets around the requirement that caterers have a liquor license to serve alcohol at events.
The ordinance in its current form also would not allow any brown bagging on Sundays – City Manager Tom Hall said that could be changed, since the city now allows alcohol sales on Sundays. The ordinance also calls for owners of brown bagging establishments not to store alcohol on the property and to make sure adequate security is in place for events.
Hall said the ordinance was proposed by LaGrange police to help them regulate problems that have come up when brown bagging events are held in private homes.
“The reality is, we have more problems with brown bagging establishments (rather than bars and restaurants) after midnight,” Hall said.
But Councilman Willie Edmondson didn’t want to see options for brown bagging taken away completely.
“Not everyone has a country club or a Del’Avant to go to,” he said.
Councilman Jim Thornton said the city could look at requiring catering hall owners to get a liquor license.
“That also would give us an opportunity to talk about zoning and where we want those types of establishments to operate,” he said.
Council agreed to hear from Public Safety Chief Lou Dekmar at its next meeting before changing the brown bagging ordinance.
Council also decided Tuesday not to require restaurant and bar owners to go through TIPS – Training for Intervention Procedures – to get a license to sell alcohol.
The Troup County Prevention Coalition had asked the city to look at implementing the program, which counsels servers on how to recognize underage drinkers and drinkers of age who have been over served. The program has been implemented in other states.
But Hall and council members say 95 percent of restaurant and bar owners haven’t had an issue with serving underage customers and a four- to five-hour training session may be too much of a burden for some businesses. Those businesses that do violate the law are required to go through a similar counseling program offered by the police department after being cited by police.
Council did agree to make the TIPS program information voluntary for businesses that want to go through it when they apply for a liquor license.
“Hopefully they never encounter the police,” Thornton said.