by Chris Cannon
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - There is proposed legislation moving through the Tennessee Capitol that would pave the way for people to drink alcohol on the streets of downtown Nashville.
The proposed bill would let bar owners in the central business improvement district to put customer's alcoholic beverages in to-go cup so they can walk the streets with the drink.
Many tourists who spent their Friday night on Lower Broadway think the to-go cup plan is a good idea.
"I think it's a big thing for tourists, because people want to be able to drink wherever they can. Everything's within walking distance, so it isn't that bad," said Ellie Otero who was visiting from Boston.
"If I could walk down the street with a cup, that would make this place so much better. It would be more like New Orleans, in a way. I'd love it," said Brent Hoffman from Baltimore.
The Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation requested two Nashville lawmakers introduce legislation in the Tennessee House and Senate that would start the process of allowing to-go cups.
A CVC spokesperson said the change would help support the growth the city has seen, and it is a potential tool to attract more visitors.
If the legislation were to pass, all bars would have to use the same type of to-go cup that would be issued by the city.
Many honky tonk owners on Lower Broadway do not feel to-go cups are a good idea.
"I think the party should be kept inside the clubs, and not out on the street," said Ruble Sanderson.
He owns Legends Corner, The Stage, The Second Fiddle and Nashville Crossroads. He said the change would be bad for bar business.
"I just don't see a reason to tell, if you guys want to leave, you can carry you drink out and go somewhere else. It just doesn't make business sense to me," Sanderson explained.
He said Nashville is different than places like Memphis and New Orleans where the party is out on the street.
"We're different from Beale Street and Bourbon Street, and those places. And they're great fun places to go to, but Nashville's different," Sanderson said.
The owner of Layla's honky tonk agreed and said Nashville's charm is what has made it so successful.
"And we need to keep it different, unique and the charm of what we have down here in Nashville," according to owner Layla Vartanian.
She said the change could also negatively impact the bands who play for tips at almost every bar in the downtown area.
"If you take the party outside, I think the bands will get affected, number one. They won't get the tips they get normally, and I think the bartenders will get affected by it too," Vartanian said.
If the bill were to pass in the state legislature, it would then go to the Metro Council for approval before drinks could be consumed on downtown streets.