Knox Co. may soon get liquor by the drink, package stores

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- We're one step closer to having liquor by the drink and package stores in areas of Knox County outside the city of Knoxville.

Knox county commission voted Wednesday to put the issue on the agenda for the full commission meeting later this month.

Ultimately, you could vote on both issues in the August election.

Some local businesses we talked to say it's a movement they've been waiting to see happen.

The bar is fully stocked with beer, wine, and liquor at Aubrey's off Papermill Drive, but visit their location further west at Cedar Bluff and your choices are much more limited.

Aubrey's owner Randy Burleson says, "It's a big difference. About $1,000 a day, it would be simple to do that much more in sales"

That's because unless a restaurant is annexed into the city, as it stands, liquor can't be sold in the county.

Something Commissioner Larry Smith believes needs to be changed.

"I just think that we could have lots of new developments in the area, especially North Knoxville and Emory Road. There are two major developments now, and it would make it better if we had nicer restaurants"

But not at the government's accord. He wants the decision left in the hands of voters.

Smith says, "I just want to educate people on it. If voters don't want it, they don't have to vote for it."

It's a move that Commissioner Smith says he hopes will not only bring bigger and better developments to places outside of Knoxville, like Halls, but prevent against further city annexation.

Restaurant managers and owners agree, saying while it's important, it's not all about revenue, and they hope if given the chance voters will also take a look at the big picture.

Burleson says, "It would put people a lot closer to home and off the roads. Everyday we have guests leave because they can't just have a glass of wine to go with their salad or steak."

Again this is just step one.

A preliminary vote is scheduled for may 19.

If passed, the full commission could vote in June, and if all goes well, you will vote on it in August.

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