Many in Picayune happy with new liquor law

PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - Liquor by the glass is helping to change the landscape in Picayune. That's according to Picayune leaders who say the new law has created a surge in restaurant openings and building.

"If you look at the restaurants that have opened here just in the last 180 days, none of those restaurants probably would have been here without that," said restaurant owner Pete Amadeo.

The new law gave restaurants within the city limits the ability to sell alcoholic beverages in a glass, despite Pearl River County being a traditionally dry county.

"If you have a restaurant, you struggle with the food costs. Just to provide a good product, it's tough to do that. But with the added wine and liquor, it gives your food costs a little bit better percentage and it makes it something that's feasible," said restaurant owner Tim Hart.

That's why Hart is preparing to open Southern Char Steakhouse. And just up the road, Fatty's Seafood Restaurant is about to open its doors in a couple of weeks. When it does, it will employ about 20 people.

"We're a restaurant first and foremost. The fact that we can serve alcohol, beer with seafood, it certainly helps," said Amadeo.

Since the law took effect nine months ago, there have been ten liquor licenses issued. One was to the national chain restaurant Applebee's, which is going up on Highway 43.

"I've heard 17 percent increase in sales. I've heard seven times the amount of what I sold, prior to. You can't argue with that. From an economic standpoint, you can't," said April Lovelace, Executive Director of the Picayune Chamber Of Commerce.

Lovelace said the law has resulted in residents spending their dining dollars at home without the feared consequences.

Some opponents to the new law had worried that restaurants selling alcohol would mean more drunk drivers on the city's roads. But according to the Picayune Police Department, there's been no increase in the DUI rate since the new law took effect.

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