Coast cities excited about business opportunities with open cont - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Coast cities excited about business opportunities with open container law

Missouri resident Susan Anderson enjoys a drink during a visit to Ocean Springs. She says it would be a good idea for tourism to have an open container law in the state. (Photo source: WLOX News) Missouri resident Susan Anderson enjoys a drink during a visit to Ocean Springs. She says it would be a good idea for tourism to have an open container law in the state. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Ocean Springs Plaza on Government Street likely would be in the middle of an open container district. (Photo source: WLOX News) Ocean Springs Plaza on Government Street likely would be in the middle of an open container district. (Photo source: WLOX News)
OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) -

A bill that would allow patrons to carry drinks out of bars is getting a lot of people excited about the potential business benefits.

If it becomes law, it may be a big benefit particularly to walkable communities like Ocean Springs and Biloxi.

In fact, an open container may be an open invitation to expand tourism.

Even if there were no open container law, it probably wouldn’t stop Missouri resident Susan Anderson from visiting Ocean Springs.

But it could help with a return stop.

“I think it’s pretty nice,” she said. “Went to Savannah and we were able to do that. It was very nice, because you still got to look at things and stuff. Didn’t just have to sit there and wait until you finished your drink to move on.”

Husband Tom Anderson agreed.

“I know I hate dumping a drink,” he said. “You get four or five people together, you’ve got to throw three drinks away so you can go to the next establishment.”

Mayor Connie Moran says it's about time.

“We’ve been talking about it for a number of years,” she said. “It's very difficult to get anything with the word alcohol in it passed through the Legislature. … I think it’s a great business opportunity all the way up and down the coast.”

Once approved, each city would establish a zone in which patrons would be allowed open containers.

Biloxi may consider several spots and not just downtown.

"We just think it will help the tourism,” said David Nichols, chief administrative officer for the city of Biloxi. “For the lack of a better word, it’d kind of give you a New Orleans feel. This is a natural for a resort area like Biloxi.”

Even with a potentially tight district in Ocean Springs, many residents, like Chris Ashbaker, live within yards from the main business district.

“Right now, every once in a while, you’ll see somebody walking around with a beer in their hand and I don’t see a problem as long as police kind of keep watch on them,” he said. “I don’t see a problem at all.”

And for business owner Pat Salvetti, it’s all about keeping the customer happy.

“Sounds like a good idea,” he said. “It’s American, you know. Freedom. Let people live and be happy. Right?”

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