A proposed bill would allow two restaurants to sell alcohol nearly around the clock, but restaurant owners have said the bill is about much more than just alcohol.
If it passes the bill would allow the restaurants, The Diner Nashville in Nashville’s SoBro neighborhood and Scoreboard Bar and Grill near Opryland, to sell alcohol around the clock, except for one hour between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m.
Currently, restaurants can't sell alcohol past 3 a.m., and can’t start again until 8 am.
Barrett Hobbs, the owner of the Scoreboard Bar and Grill said the time restriction goes beyond alcohol sales. He said under the law, the whole business must be closed, which poses a problem for people who work in the hospitality industry who may get off work at 4 a.m. and have nowhere to wind down.
“If they wanted to have a beer with their coworkers, like everyone else does at 4 or 5 o'clock in the evening. There's never been an alternative for them,” Hobbs said.
Sen. Thelma Harper (D-Nashville) sponsored the legislation allowing Scoreboard and The Diner to serve alcohol starting at 4 a.m., which raised some concern Tuesday in the Senate State and Local Government Committee. Some lawmakers wondered why only the law change was affecting only two restaurants.
“The question should be, are we going to do it for everyone in the state or not do it for everyone in the state?” said Sen. Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville) at the committee meeting.
But Hobbs said any restaurant has the option of doing what he and Steve Smith, the owner of The Diner did: talk to their elected leaders to get a change.
“They need to meet with their local representatives, whether it’s the Senate or the House of Representatives, and this goes for any business,” Hobbs said.
The bill is currently headed for votes in the full House and Senate.