Alcohol ordinance change prompts community reactions

Published 10:46 am Thursday, December 21, 2017

By Devna Bose

The Oxford Board of Aldermen voted during their Dec. 19 meeting to amend the city’s alcohol ordinance to extend alcohol distribution hours until 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 p.m. on Sundays, prompting reactions from business owners and community members, locals and students alike.

“I personally love it. I think it’s a good thing for both the employees and the owners. We, the owners, get the extra revenue, and employees get the hours so more money goes in their pocket,” Funky’s owner Lee Harris said. “It eliminates confusion, it’s easier on the police officers, and I think it’s all-in-all a great thing. There’s won’t be a huge drastic difference revenue-wise. We’re going to see more simplicity.”

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People who want to stay a little later to enjoy a drink at a restaurant on the Square will now be able to as well, without having to remember what day of the week it is.

“Making the hours consistent throughout the week will provide less confusion for everyone,” City Grocery bar manager John Spreafico said.

Business owners around town also agreed that it could have a positive impact on the music scene in Oxford.

“I think it will really help Oxford music,” Randy Yates, owner of Ajax Diner, said. “There will be more evenings where bands can play in restaurants after the kitchen is closed.”

The general manager of popular music joint Proud Larry’s, Bruce Butler, agreed.

“We see it as a positive development that will give businesses the opportunity to have a choice of how late they stay open,” he said. “I don’t know how many nights we’ll stay open if we don’t  have a show, but if we do have a show, it’s kind of nice to not have to rush everyone. I think it’s a nice, positive change.”

OPD Chief Joey East said the ordinance change was made to ease confusion.

“Adding an hour was suggested to give businesses an additional hour to sell and make the closing times simple and easy to keep up with,” he said. “In general, I think it will be much easier for businesses and patrons to keep up with.”

Ole Miss student Brandon Phillips is just happy to have another hour to hang out with his friends on the Square.

“I feel like it’s going to bring the bars a little more money, and I’m happy to have a little more time,” he said. “I’ve had several instances that I’ve wished the bars were open one more hour.”

At a public hearing earlier this month, no one spoke out for or against the ordinance change.

The ordinance will go into effect in 30 days.