Cyclebar Dunwoody wants to serve members free booze after a strenuous workout. But the city’s attorneys say the alcohol ordinance will need to be changed and are urging City Council to take extreme caution before doing so.
At the Dec. 12 meeting, council members delayed voting on an amendment to its alcohol ordinance to allow Cyclebar Dunwoody, an indoor cycling business, to serve its members a free beer or glass of wine after Friday evening workouts without having to apply and pay for special alcohol permits to do so. The council is expected to take up the issue again at its Jan. 9 meeting.
“If people are doing the right thing, there will be no problems. But if people want to abuse this, the city will have less opportunity to take a stick to it,” City Attorney Cecil McClendon said at last month’s meeting in discussing the proposed ordinance change.
The proposed amendment would add a new section titled “Exemption from Licensing Requirements” to the alcohol ordinance to allow certain Dunwoody businesses to serve free wine and beer to the general public, such as at holiday parties, without having to get a special alcohol license.
Councilmember Pam Tallmadge brought up the issue with city staff in November after the manager of Cyclebar Dunwoody, where she is a member, approached her about helping find a way to be able to serve beer and wine to its members.
The city is currently preventing Cyclebar Dunwoody from serving alcohol to members every Friday as it wants to do, Tallmadge explained in an interview. But Cyclebar businesses around the country, including the one in Buckhead, regularly advertise their Friday happy hour workouts that are followed by a free libation and complimentary snacks.
There is no ordinance like this anywhere else in the country addressing this issue, Tallmadge said she was told by the city’s attorneys.
“Everyone else is ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’ And [Cyclebar Dunwoody] is trying to do the right thing” by getting permission from the city to serve alcohol, she said.
Assistant City Attorney Lenny Felgin raised his own concerns at the Dec. 12 meeting, including not knowing if Cyclebar Dunwoody or other potential businesses would be checking people’s identification to make sure they are the legal age to drink alcohol.
McClendon also noted that if a business that wants to have a weekly happy hour is exempt from having to get a city alcohol license, there would be no way to punish it if it violates city ordinances.
“You can’t suspend the license because they don’t have one in the first place,” McClendon said. “You’re not going to have as much control … and it will be hard to regulate abuses.”
Tallmadge said the city’s alcohol ordinance is very complicated and she doesn’t see anything wrong with allowing Cyclebar Dunwoody serve a customer a beer after a sweaty workout.
“I would have a beer after a ride. I think you should be able to have a cold one because you do really sweat a lot,” she said with a laugh.