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City OKs alcohol license for Mars

POSTED: March 13, 2014 7:53 p.m.

The grand debut of the Mars Theatre is about a month away, and Springfield City Council members took steps to make sure there could be a proper toast.

Council members approved a local alcohol license with a 5-0 vote Tuesday, and they also gave the go-ahead to apply for an alcohol permit with the state Department of Revenue.

“It’s almost here, and it’s a hole that’s been needed to be filled,” said Springfield business owner and resident Paul Lindsay. “We need a place for the grown folks to go and have a good time. I think this is a great idea. I think it’s a great pull for the city.”

Springfield City Manager Brett Bennett and city cultural affairs director Tommy Deadwyler said the theatre won’t be selling alcohol at all events. Bennett added the sale of alcohol will be limited to ticketed events, and patrons won’t be able to get a beer or a glass of wine without purchasing a ticket for an event.

“They will have to get a ticket to get in,” Bennett said.

Deadwyler also tried to allay the concerns of council members. He said servers will be ServSafe trained, and an intoximeter, which the city requires at restaurants, also will be available.

“Our servers are going to be trained,” said Mayor Barton Alderman.

Deadwyler also said they will reserve the right to refuse service.

“We’re not opening a bar,” Deadwyler said. “When the show’s over, the bar sales stop. It’s not like we’re going to be open until 1 a.m. We will be very cautious and attuned to what’s going on.”

Bennett added that alcohol will be prohibited at certain events at the Mars, especially if those events occur on a Sunday.

“Sunday sales are not allowed anyway,” he said.

Springfield resident Pearl Thomas issued her worries about someone having too much to drink and infringing upon the enjoyment of other Mars patrons.

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” she said. “When people get drunk, some of them get to acting crazy and they get a nasty attitude.”

Said Alderman: “I’ve been in the same boat. I’ve been next to someone drunk and sloppy and I didn’t want to go back there. We’re trying to take care of that.”

Bennett also said they will draft a policy of what events alcohol will be sold for council members to review.

“If we draft a policy the right way, even if we have to change it from time to time, I think it covers it,” said council member Justin Cribbs.

The license is under city finance clerk Amber Lancaster’s name, and Bennett said it was best if it wasn’t under his or Mayor Alderman’s name, since they have input in the city’s alcohol ordinance. Having someone’s name attached to the license request to the state, Bennett added, gives the state a person to make sure the alcohol tax is paid.

Though Lancaster’s name will be on the permit, city attorney Ben Perkins said she wouldn’t face much liability in case something goes wrong. Perkins explained that ordinarily the defendants if someone is overserved and then is involved in an accident are ordinarily the servers, the bartender and the facility itself. Lancaster also will be covered by the Georgia Municipal Association’s coverage.

Deadwyler noted that alcohol licenses to venues such as the Mars are common.

“It’s pretty much standard operating procedure for performing arts theaters to sell beer and wine,” he said.

Council member Gary Weitman pointed out the city has not had any problems arising from beer sales at its fall festival. He also voiced his support of the Mars’ alcohol license.

“It’s a good thing,” he said. “With the clientele we’ll get, I think we’ll be all right.”

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