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City councilman says social districts could help Charlotte restaurants

A new North Carolina law allows cities to create "social districts" where alcohol can be consumed outside of bars and restaurants in designated areas.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — City planners are looking to launch a pilot program for Charlotte's first "social district," and City Councilman Larken Egleston thinks Plaza Midwood would be the most logical location. 

"I think that would be a pretty turn-key place to do it," Egleston, who currently represents District 1 but is vying for an at-large City Council seat, said. "It's a conversation that I've already started having with business owners in Plaza Midwood, but there's a number of places where I think it would be a good fit."

A new North Carolina state law allows cities to create districts where people can drink outside of restaurants and bars in certain areas. Several towns have already created the new zones including Cornelius, Hickory, and Greensboro.

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In Kannapolis' newly approved West Avenue District, customers who buy an alcoholic drink at Chophouse 101, Sabor, or Old Armor Beer Company will be allowed to take the drink outside of the restaurant and drink it on the sidewalks or public areas inside the social district.

Egleston said a number of Charlotte neighborhoods in and around Uptown could qualify.

"I hope that it's something that we can replicate throughout the city," he said.

Egleston hopes the districts will give restaurants a much-needed boost after the past two years.

"Our hospitality industry, which employs 1 in 9 people in the Charlotte community, is one of the ones that got hit the hardest during the pandemic," Egleston said. "It's just now starting to recover, particularly in our center city."

Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly. 
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