Four Pigeon Forge restaurants now serving liquor

11:10 PM, Dec 14, 2012   |    comments
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According to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, four restaurants in Pigeon Forge can now legally sell liquor by the drink.

The ABC says have another additional application pending.

That's after the referendum to approve liquor-by-the-drink sales passed by 100 votes in November.

Tom Horne represents Diverse Concepts, the group that manages three of the four licensed restaurants in the city.

Mellow Mushroom, Blue Moose Burgers and Wings and Johnny Carino's Italian Restaurant all began offering liquor to their patrons shortly after 5 p.m. Friday.

Horne says in the past they've lost patrons to Sevierville and Gatlinburg because they couldn't offer the same drink menu.

He says only offering beer has cost them employees too.

The cost and effort put to training new servers occasionally resulted in a loss, when wait staff leave his employment to take jobs in places that could offer liquor, and better tips.

"It's very frustrating for the servers. That's their income walking out the door," says Horne.

Though he acknowledges liquor is profitable, he doesn't expect the move to have a major impact initially on the restaurants' revenue.

"I expect it's more of a convenience for guests," says Horne.

Long term, Horne says serving liquor is a business decision that makes financial sense for the restaurant group, and the city.

In recent years he says he's observed more and more restaurants electing to set up shop in neighboring cities to take advantage of liquor by the drink sales.

The move to liquor by the drink garnered some opposition from The Concerned Churches and Citizens of Pigeon Forge.

They want a new vote because they say a ballot mix-up means some of the people who voted on the issue don't live in Pigeon Forge.

They filed a lawsuit against the Sevier County Election Commission.

On December 3rd the election commission's attorney formally asked the suit to be tossed out this Monday. The attorney said the citizens group doesn't have legal standing in the case.

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