Representatives from Reformation Brewery attended the Canton Downtown Development Authority meeting on Thursday looking for support for the plan. Spencer Nix, one of the Christian-themed brewery’s partners, said the brewery would like to see the city’s food-to-alcohol ratio for restaurants lowered to 50-50.
Nix is the vocational elder of Isaac’s Keep, which meets at 182 North St. The church also has two lay elders, Nick Downs and Rhon Redwine. The elders oversee the local gospel-based church.
Nix said they would like to see the city change its ratio before they commit to opening in the space they lease at 170 North St. Canton now has a 60-40 ratio, meaning sales for food must be at least 60 percent of a restaurants’ profit.
To be classified as a restaurant, state law mandates proceeds from food sales must be at least 50 percent.
Holly Springs, Woodstock and Ball Ground’s ordinance all match state law regulations at 50-50. Cherokee County also has a ratio of 60 to 40.
In Woodstock, restaurants whose revenue don’t meet the 50 percent mark are classified as bars, said City Planner Brian Stockton, but he pointed out that the city does not have bars in the city.
Food sales in Holly Springs “must be equal to or more than 50 percent of total sales in restaurants,” said City Manager Rob Logan.
Councilman Bob Rush, who attended the Canton DDA meeting on Thursday, said he plans to put the issue on the council’s agenda for Thursday. Rush’s idea of lowering the ratio was originally brought up when he started working to rewrite Canton’s alcohol ordinance to extend last call to 2 a.m., which passed in 2010.
The first-term councilman said he brought the issue of lowering the ratio back up after attending a brew night event by Reformation Brewery. Rush said the partners involved said it would be difficult to operate under the 60-40 rule. He also said Canton’s present ratio “puts the city at a disadvantage.”
“All this does is give our businesses in the city a level playing field,” he said.
Rush originally approached the Canton DDA during its May meeting to ask if they would support a resolution in support of lowering the ratio. The DDA said it would consider a resolution, but later decided against it.
DDA Board member Rebecca Johnston said Thursday she didn’t feel this was the DDA’s battle.
Johnston said she was in support of the brewery coming to downtown, but said she thought changing the ratio is something the City Council should take the lead on.
DDA Board Chairwoman Wanda Roach agreed, adding she would have to learn more about the state law and ordinances of surrounding areas before making a decision.
Board member Stan Rogers had a different take.
“We are the DDA and we are supposed to be promoting businesses,” he said. “My fear is we’ll stand around, shuffling our feet while these guys go somewhere else.”
Councilman Glen Cummins, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said he would support the city reducing its ratio. Councilman John Beresford also said he would support lowering it.
“I think it keeps us in balance with other communities around us,” he said, adding he didn’t think the change would put anyone in jeopardy.
Councilman Hooky Huffman said he felt lowering it would be a good thing that could help the city “be more competitive with the surrounding cities.”
Mayor Gene Hobgood said Friday he “was not necessarily opposed” to lowering the ratio to 50-50, but added the council should consider the impact of reducing the ratio and what areas of the city it would apply to.
Councilman Bill Bryan said the city’s ratio a “good ratio,” but added he’s open to considering lowering it.
“I’ve got an open mind about it,” he said.
Councilman Jack Goodwin said he didn’t have any strong feelings about the issue. He said the city hasn’t had any problems with the ratio now in effect, but added the city may not have problems if it lowered it.