ANNA — The Anna City Council is considering whether or not it wants to allow alcohol served outside of establishments.
City Administrator Steve Guined said Anna’s current liquor ordinance does not allow for alcohol to be served outside of a restaurant or bar, but a couple establishments have popped up wanting to do so.
He said El Jalapeno on Leigh Avenue and The Depot on Davie Street have expressed interest in constructing an outdoor deck for consumers to eat, drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes away from other customers.
Guined said it came up at the June council meeting, when El Jalapeno representatives came to obtain a permit for an outside deck — which had already started construction. He said the council approved the permit for the deck, but liquor wasn’t discussed.
Councilwoman Martha Webb said she asked the restaurant representative three times if alcohol was going to be served, and was told no.
“They said it was only for smoking and eating, so it would get the smokers away from the front door,” Webb said.
Gunied said at the July 5 meeting, El Jalapeno representatives came back and informed the council that the restaurant would like to serve alcohol on the deck. At the same meeting, Mayor Steve Hartline said he was approached by The Depot to consider an outdoor drinking and smoking deck, according to Gunied.
The city administrator said because it wasn’t on the agenda for that night, or because there wasn’t a proposed ordinance to vote on, the council couldn’t make that decision to allow alcohol outside that night. However, Hartline did ask the council if it wanted him to propose further information and draft an ordinance, and it was voted down 3-2.
Webb was one of the council members who voted against it, saying it was her understanding that the deck was only for smoking.
The issue surfaced again at the July 19 council meeting. A representative from El Jalapeno asked them to reconsider amending the liquor code. Gunied said suggestions were tossed around to make sure the outside area was fenced in so customers couldn’t just walk from the parking lot to the outside area. Also, making sure when leaving, customer would have to walk through the restaurant which could stop people from wandering into the neighborhoods with alcohol.
Gunied said the mayor asked the council once again if he could pursue putting policy together to allow outside liquor consumption, and this time, all five council members approved it.
He said the mayor and city attorney are working on an ordinance and will try to have something at the first or second meeting in August.
Webb said she is waiting to see what information is brought forward by the mayor before leaning on way or another for her vote.
“I just don’t want it to create any more trouble for our town with people sitting out there drinking,” she said. “I’d like to hear from both sides. I know there are people that don’t think there is anything wrong and people that do.”
She also expressed concern about the sound that may carry into neighborhoods if music is played outside. She is thinking about how outside alcohol sales could help improve businesses within town.
“I am for the businesses to grow,” Webb said. “I just think our town is going to grow, and it doesn’t have to depend on alcohol.”