COVINGTON, Ga. - With a unanimous vote by the Covington City Council, downtown Covington’s newest eatery will include an outdoor porch on a city sidewalk.
The owners of City Pharmacy filed a request to impede on the city’s sidewalk to add a gated porch area to their building. Once completed, the porch will be considered as an improvement to the building and become taxable property.
During the work session prior to the council’s meeting, Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston encouraged the council to think the decision all the way through.
“I have had some conversations with these folks,” he said. “And one of the things, I think, I just want to be honest with everybody, is this is a pretty good chunk of investment he’s getting ready to make and he is planning on fully serving these tables, which will include open container and that means it will be coming up to us again to approve that, like we have with every other restaurant.
“I guess I just want to generally talk about that from the standpoint of, obviously, it’s been kind of an issue lately so I just want to be honest with him.”
Councilman Chris Smith told the mayor and council that he has not had an issue with restaurants serving alcohol.
“I’ve had no problems in front of restaurants as long as they’re on the patio then I have no issue with it and we’ve always voted to allow it in front of a restaurant,” Smith said. “I don’t see that it is an issue.”
Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams said she was only concerned about the porch impeding traffic flow on the sidewalk, but she has since be assured that would not be an issue.
Johnston said he raised the concern because he has previously heard councilmembers say there is “too much alcohol on the square.” Smith and Councilman Michael Whatley said there has been a precedent set with other restaurants on the square to allow open container outside of the restaurants and this case would be no different.
“We have a business person that is investing into our square. With what happened recently, they were asking the question ‘Am I going to be allowed to serve this?’ and I said, ‘You know we allowed all four of them (other restaurants) so I don’t see how we can’t but the council can do anything it wants,’ so I just wanted to double-check this before we say go ahead and invest several thousand dollars into a deck,” Johnston said. “But if y’all say this is a totally different thing that’s fine.”
Johnston was referring to a council meeting last month where, in a split vote, the council denied the first reading of three proposed ordinances, which would have allowed for customers to bring their own alcohol into Covington businesses, businesses to serve hospitality drinks or hair salons and spas to provide drinks as part of a service package.
Once construction is finished, the owners of City Pharmacy will have to come before the council again for approval on their alcohol license.