Some limited service restaurants in Shelby County seeking to reopen under new full service license
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Some limited service restaurants in the county forced to close by the Shelby County Health Department earlier this summer in an effort to battle COVID-19 in our community are reopening as full service restaurants with new licenses.
In July the health department ordered nearly four dozen limited service restaurants closed. The classification of “limited service restaurants” also includes bars under state law.
The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission is working with establishments who wish to change their license.
“If those facilities are able to be re-licensed and open in a different way so they can continue to thrive as businesses, we are very supportive of that,” said Alisa Haushalter, Director of the Shelby County Health Department.
The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage commission said Friday Hadley’s Pub on Whitten Road and Blind Bear in downtown Memphis had been approved for full restaurant licenses.
To receive a full license, the establishments must sell food with all sales of alcoholic beverages, set the price of food higher than the price of alcoholic beverages, and provide monthly accounting of sales.
In-person inspections and audits by the TABC should be expected, the agency told WMC Action News 5. Violations could result in closure.
Limited service restaurants under state law are those where revenue from the sale of prepared food is 50 percent or less. This summer, 17 of those restaurant owners sued the health department over their forced closure, but federal judges sided with public health officials.
“I think it’s just a band aid. We’ve always been able to reapply for a different type of license. We would just have to prove annually that the sales would meet the criteria,” said Nick Scott, who owns Alchemy in Cooper Young, a limited service restaurant still closed.
He said the full restaurant license for his establishment isn’t feasible, and he won’t be applying for one.
“Are people really going to come in and pay an inflated price for a burger or a grilled cheese and tomato soup to match the amount of money it will take to get a cocktail or two,” he asked.
The TABC says nine other applications for license changes are pending statewide.
In Shelby County, full service restaurants must end service at 10 nightly, and no one can be standing or served at a bar.
The health department says five conditions must be met to reopen limited service restaurants. That includes a COVID-19 positivity rate at or less than 10 percent and the rate of new cases decreasing by at or greater than 30 percent over two consecutive weeks. You can read the other conditions in the department’s latest health directive here.
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