Small restaurants in Jacksonville could start serving alcohol with new law

A new state law will allow small restaurants along a stretch of Kings Avenue to serve alcohol and cocktails as long as the establishment meets a series of conditions including a minimum of 50 seats.

The newly approved law will also allow restaurants in downtown Northbank to get the special licenses if they can serve at least 50 people at a time, half the old 100 diner threshold.

The measure — House Bill 1497 introduced by state Rep. Wyman Duggan, R-Jacksonville — went into effect immediately after it was signed this week by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The act creates and adds the Kings Avenue shopping corridor to existing areas of downtown Jacksonville and historic neighborhoods such as Riverside, Avondale, San Marco and others where the state previously opened the door to smaller restaurants that can serve liquors and cocktails.

The Kings Avenue Commercial Corridor is designated as the area between Prudential Drive on Southbank and Atlantic Boulevard in San Marco.

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To be licensed, a restaurant must occupy at least 1,000 square feet of service area, be able to serve meals to at least 50 people at a time, and derive at least 51% of its gross revenue from food and beverages from the sale of food and non-alcoholic beverages.

An economic impact statement shows that “the bill is positive due to increased sales tax revenue and licensing revenue if such special licenses are granted under the exception,” according to a House staff analysis of the measure.

Northbank Town Center was already one of the areas where businesses could apply for these special liquor licenses. The new law expands the ability of businesses in this region to obtain licenses based on the relaxed criteria.

Prior to the change, businesses in downtown Northbank had to be able to serve at least 100 people at a time at tables and occupy more than 1,800 square feet of floor space that earned at least 51% of annual revenue from store sales. foods consumed locally.

The new law does not change the criteria for special liquor licenses for businesses in Southbank Town Centre, Riverside Avondale Urban Transition Area, Riverside Avondale Commercial Zones, Murray Commercial Area Hill, the Springfield shopping area and the San Marco transportation area.

These areas still have the same criteria that were previously in place for Northbank Town Centre.

Outside of areas listed in state law, the threshold in Duval County for special liquor licenses requires that the food service establishment have at least 2,500 square feet of service area and be equipped to serve meals to 150 people at a time.

They must derive at least 51% of their gross food and beverage revenue from the sale of food and non-alcoholic beverages during the first 120-day operating period and the first 12-day operating period months thereafter.

The Jacksonville City Council voted 17-0 on October 12, 2021 to approve then-proposed legislation on the Kings Avenue Commercial Corridor. The council also asked the Duval County legislative delegation to support the measure, records show.