By Alyssa Schnugg
Craft beer store owner Allen Jackson is hoping city leaders consider changing the city’s law that prevents businesses from selling beer on and off premises in the same building so he can expand his customers’ experience.
Jackson went before the Oxford Board of Aldermen Monday during a recessed meeting at City Hall.
“I’m appreciative that we are starting this conversation here,” he said.
Jackson sells bottled craft beer and growlers (large cups that are sealed closed) at his Jackson Beer Store on West Jackson Avenue. He currently offers samples of craft beers but he wants to be able to serve a full glass of beer to his customers while they shop and talk “beer.”
“It’s already being done in other places in the state,” he said. “I promise we are not going to try to jump in and do liquor or beer.”
Jackson said the city can adjust the law to make sure other businesses like gas stations and convenience stores try to sell beer from a tap.
“You could make it a requirement to have 95 percent of their sales packaged beer,” he said. “Or require them to use a draft system.”
Mayor Robyn Tannehill said she’s had inquiries that indicate interest in more craft beer stores opening in Oxford.
“The catch comes in unattended consequences,” she said. “If we allow it for X, then how does that transition into problems you didn’t see. When you allow someone to drink a beer in a craft beer store what does that mean as far as pool halls or gas stations.”
OPD Chief Joey East said he believes the city’s laws are working as is and to change them and allow special exceptions, it will make the lines grayer.
“I’m not saying I’m for or against,” he said at the meeting. “We have an on-premise law and an off-premise law. Each time you open this, you’re going to have to make special exceptions for each time it comes up. We worked hard for a year to simplify this stuff. When you make a special exception for his (Jackson), you’re going to have to consider one for someone else’s model.”
No decision was made by the Board Monday. However, the aldermen and mayor instructed staff and City Attorney Pope Mallette to draft an ordinance that would allow the on-site consumption of beer at a craft beer store to be considered at a future Board of Aldermen meeting.