The district allows customers to carry open containers of alcohol from participating businesses along Central Avenue.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte’s first social district is now open.
While the gloom is preventing some people from getting buzzed, others are ready to go. “It’s not really buzz-worthy at the moment it’s so dreary out,” one patron said.
Many people are taking advantage of Charlotte’s first social district in Plaza Midwood. Dish had their first customer with an open container at 10 a.m.
“I was definitely shocked to hear about that it’s exciting though hopeful we will start driving business with drinking district,” Sarah Longhurst, with Dish, said.
Plaza Midwood’s social district allows customers to carry open containers of alcohol along Central Avenue, running from Two Scoops Creamery past Workman’s Friend and continuing all the way to Morningside Drive. The social district expands toward Independence Boulevard to include Pecan Avenue, Thomas Avenue and The Plaza. It also contains some land in Chantilly.
Stickers will be posted at businesses across the social district to inform patrons of the establishment’s participation in the social district. A purple sticker denotes a business where the specialized social district cup and to-go alcoholic beverages can be purchased. A green sticker marks an establishment where a social district cup is welcome with an outside beverage. Businesses not participating in the social district will be denoted with a red sticker.
Many customers said they were excited to fill up and go with their open containers, but the process to do so has been confusing, and not all restaurants are choosing to participate.
“There are some businesses that attended social district meetings and entertained the ideas but they want to hold off and see how things develop,” Mary Saric, with Legion Brewery, said. Mary said you can identify which businesses are participating by stickers. The purple sticker means an establishment has cups and to-go drinks. “We are going to put a sticker on it that’s going to say Legion with the date they got the beverage on the cup.”
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Mary said all cups should be empty before entering a new bar or restaurant. “Legion for instance only has a beer and wine permit so we don’t have the license to have liquor on our premises, it is an actual legal issue,” said Mary. “You can’t really control how much you’re serving people when you don’t know what’s in their cup,” said Mary. You can click here for more details
The stainless steel cups will be $8, reusable, and must have a bar’s sticker on them to be valid. When a customer goes from one participating place to the next, they’ll exchange their cup for a new one if getting a second to-go drink.
An all-day kickoff event for the new social district will take place on Saturday, March 9.
The hours of operation will be 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
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Jason Phillip Michel, the executive director of the Plaza Midwood Merchants Association, told WCNC Charlotte in February that “as long as an ABC (NC Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission) permittee is following the responsible safe serving training, there should not be an issue at all.”
Michel said participating places are trained by police and ABC. Plus, they’re going to slowly roll out the cups so bars have time to adjust.
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Charlotte leaders approved the creation of social districts in August 2022. Several Queen City neighborhoods like South End, Uptown, NoDa and LoSo have shown interest, but Plaza Midwood was the first neighborhood to receive approval for a social district. That 8-2 vote was in October 2023.
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