On Monday, the Rome City Commission rejected changes to the alcohol pouring license that was approved by the ACC last month.

The proposed ordinance would have created a “small bar” category and changed the 50-50 food to drink ratio for liquor sales with some restrictions.

This marked the second time that the “small bar” category was voted down.

One of the changes that commissioners did approve was the amount of space allowed for businesses to be affected by the ordinance.  The move reduced the size of footage for the establishment from 1,800 square feet to 1,000 square feet of interior space. It also reduced the size including outdoor space from 2,200 square feet to 1,400 square feet.

Commissioners Jim Bojo, Elaina Beeman, Jamie Doss, Bonny Askew and Randy Quick voted against the measure. Commissioners Bill Collins, Craig McDaniel and Mark Cochran voted for the measure.

Previous from the ACC

Combat Market – 214 Broad Street
The application of Brandon Pledger, owner and manager of Combat Market, 214
Broad Street was presented. Mr. Pledger requested that a new beer, wine, and
liquor pouring license be issued to him at that location. Along with Mr.
Pledger’s license request, was also an application for a food/drink ratio
variance. Mr. Pledger explained that he does not wish to establish a restaurant
at this location but would like to use other products to meet the food/drink
ratio, as allowed by the Rome Alcohol Code. Mr. Pledger explained that he would
like to establish a bar at his current retail store which primarily sells
coffee, general merchandise, and firearms.

Pledger elaborated that his particular line of coffee is now being sold at
national retailers and he is not able to compete with their pricing. There have
been other coffee shops opened in Rome and the downtown area that have also
made profitability more difficult. Mr. Pledger feels like a small bar at this
location would be beneficial, and he stated that he plans to specialize in
“custom cocktails”. He would be open Wednesday – Saturday from approximately
11:00a.m. – 11:00 p.m. Mr. Pledger has experience in the alcohol industry, and
he currently serves as the security provider for 3 alcohol establishments.
Pledger also stated he has experience as a bartender. Although no longer a
police officer, Mr. Pledger maintains his POST certification. The Combat Market
is approximately 1500 square feet, and he plans to operate this establishment
with himself and two other employees, more if needed. There was considerable
discussion regarding Mr. Pledger’s request for a food/drink ratio variance.

Rome City Code does allow the Alcohol Control Commission and the Rome City
Commission to approve variances in which a business would use products other
than meals (prepared, served, and consumed on the premises) to meet the 50/50
ratio. Currently, there is one other establishment in Rome that has a variance
in which premium tobacco products are used to offset distilled spirit sales.
Beer and wine sales are not factored into the food/drink ratio computation. Mr.
Pledger stated that firearm sales at his establishment would end by 7:00 p.m.
each day. He assured the Alcohol Control Commission that loaded firearms are
not allowed in the establishment and that firearm sales would not occur to
someone who was intoxicated. He described his gun sales as primarily custom
guns. Mr. Pledger indicated that he may call his establishment the Alibi
Speakeasy Lounge and Combat Market.

After further discussion by the Alcohol Control Commission members, Mr.
VanMeter moved to approve the license request and recommend to the Rome City
Commission that Mr. Pledger’s food/drink ratio variance application be
approved. Mr. Morgan seconded the motion, and the vote was unanimously in
favor. Mr. Pledger was told this matter will appear before the Rome City
Commission at their February 27, 2023, meeting. Mr. Pledger should be present
at the meeting and prepared to make a presentation and answer questions.

Steel N Spirits – 409
Broad Street

The application of Nathan Roberts, owner and manager of Steel N Spirits, 409
Broad Street was presented. Mr. Roberts is requesting a new liquor pouring
license be issued to him at that location and that a food/drink ratio variance
be approved. This variance request is to allow the sale of salvaged steel
products to meet the 50/50 ratio.

Mr. Roberts has appeared before the Alcohol Control Commission during 2022 to
make this request. At one of the ACC meetings, Mr. Roberts brought examples of
the salvaged steel products he plans to sell. Mr. Roberts had originally
requested the 409 Broad Street location and the 205 North Avenue, however, at
this point, Mr. Roberts would like to proceed with only the 409 Broad Street

Roberts explained that he plans to have distilled spirits only and specialize
in high end cocktails. His establishment is small in size, constituting
approximately 800 square feet and there is an outdoor courtyard at the rear of
his building. Mr. Roberts does not have room for a restaurant at this location
and would not like to operate with that business model.

Based on previous conversations at the Alcohol Control Commission meetings with
Mr. Roberts and the comments today, Mr. VanMeter moved to approve the license
request and recommend to the City Commission that Mr. Roberts food/drink ratio
variance be approved. Mr. Morgan seconded the motion, and the vote was
unanimously in favor. Mr. Roberts was told that this item would appear on the
February 27, 2023, Rome City Commission agenda for action and he should plan to
be at that meeting to make a presentation and answer questions.

Small Bar Ordinance.
Secretary Smith informed the ACC members that the small bar ordinance that had
been previously recommended for adoption by the Alcohol Control Commission had
been denied by the Rome City Commission. In January 2023, the Rome City Commission
voted 5-4 to deny the ordinance amendment. Monica Sheppard was present at that
Rome City Commission meeting and participated in the discussion.

The ACC once again, discussed this ordinance which would allow certain bars to
operate without the need for a food/drink ratio. These establishments would be
required to operate with the following restrictions:

  1. Contain a maximum of 1800 square feet of customer accessible interior space. If
    outdoor customer accessible space is provided, a maximum of 2200 square of
    indoor and outdoor space is allowed.
  2. These establishments may pour beer, wine, or liquor between the hours of 10:00
    m. – 10:30 p.m., Monday – Saturday. No beer, wine, or liquor may be consumed
    on the premises between the hours of 11:00 p.m. – 11:00 a.m., Monday –
    Saturday. Sunday pouring is not permitted.
  3. These establishments may not obtain permits to pour liquor “off premises”.
  4. Any type of admission fee is prohibited.

The Alcohol Control Commission must approve all entertainment.
It was noted that one of the discussion points at the City Commission meeting concerned
the fee that would be charged for a small bar license. Since these establishments would be
smaller in size and operate with limited hours, it was suggested that they would be
charged a lower liquor pouring rate. The ACC was reminded that Rome’s liquor pouring
licenses are volume based and Smith noted that it does seem appropriate that the small
bars should pay a lower base fee for their liquor pouring license. Commissioner
McDaniel emphasized the importance of support for this concept by Rome’s Downtown
Development Authority. While the ordinance is intended to be applicable City wide, the
downtown area would most likely be impacted the most.
Mr. VanMeter moved to recommend approval of the small bar ordinance to the Rome
City Commission with the condition that the Downtown Development Authority support
this concept and that a lower base fee be implemented for the small bars. Mr. Morgan
seconded the motion, and the vote was unanimously in favor.