New “Social District” Could Allow Alcohol Consumption On Downtown Salisbury Streets

SALISBURY, N.C. – You could soon stroll the streets of downtown Salisbury with a drink in hand.

A business stakeholder group is pushing the city to create a “social district” where open containers would be allowed.

“We hope it’ll be a driver for tourism. We know that we’ll be one of the first of a handful of cities to pass this,” says Samantha Haspel, with Downtown Salisbury Inc.

It’s something Haspel thinks could make downtown Salisbury a destination — the ability to allow local bars, restaurants, and other businesses to sell open containers of alcohol that customers can walk out with and enjoy while strolling through downtown.

Governor Roy Cooper signed a bill last year allowing “social districts” statewide.

“I think there are a lot of misconceptions about social districts. I think the ideas that come to mind are Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Bourbon Street. And that really isn’t how we expect our district to run,” Haspel says.

Instead, she hopes it will be an opportunity to create extra revenue for local businesses already hit hard by the pandemic, and attract new ones.

Salisbury is hoping to see the same success they saw just down the road in Kannapolis, where a social district was established late last year.

Kannapolis has specific rules requiring special labels on open containers, limiting the size to 16 ounces, and limiting when the social district is allowed to operate.

“A lot of my customers want to go out and have a drink downtown,” says Victoria Sanchez, General Manager of La Cava restaurant in Salisbury.

She’s excited about how a “social district” could bring more foot traffic downtown, especially at night.

“Little bit of, I wouldn’t say motivation, but a little bit more like an incentive to come downtown,” she says.

Salisbury City Council would have to approve the “social district.” It is expected to consider the idea next month, and a vote could come as soon as March.

Public Engagement Sessions:

Friday, January 14 – 8:30 a.m., virtual (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88327750435)
Tuesday, January 18 – 11:30 a.m., in-person at 130 S. Main St.
Wednesday, January 19 – 5:30 p.m., in-person at Mean Mug
Thursday, January 20 – 5:30 p.m., virtual (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82999892045)

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