Happy Hour drink specials could soon be a reality in North Carolina

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Thursday, February 16, 2023
Happy Hour drink specials could soon come to NC bars
A new push in Raleigh could help restaurants and bars offer happy hour discounts on drinks.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A new push in Raleigh could help restaurants and bars offer happy hour discounts on drinks.

Currently, those establishments are not allowed to offer discount prices at specific times of the day. They can offer discounts for entire days (like $3 drafts on Monday), but time sensitive discounts (like $3 drafts from 3-5 p.m.) are illegal.

Businesses want the freedom to control their own pricing, so they can entice people to fill seats--especially during less busy times.

"Being downtown, we do rely on our downtown offices a lot. And a Happy Hour would maybe give us a little incentive to have some of our office workers as they come down, maybe pop down and have a social, you know, beer after work," Raleigh Oak City Meatball Shoppe owner Ken Yowell said. "It's something that you see in a lot of other cities and states. And it'd be great to see that here in North Carolina."

House Bill 94, if passed, would legalize the concept of happy hour in the state. It gives local governments the option of allowing happy hour sales of beer, wine, and mixed beverages. Businesses already permitted to sell alcohol would apply for a $100 Happy Hour Permit.

The North Carolina ABC Board allows permitted restaurants and bars to offer happy hour food specials only.

House Bill 94 would allow discounted alcoholic beverages, coupon discounts on drinks and advertising drink specials outside of the establishment.

"We have our whiskey and wine Wednesday where we have half-off whiskeys. But that's not something that we've ever really been able to promote too much outside. So I think anything that can grab people's attention as they're walking by and potentially steer them in for a great meal and a good drink, I think is a welcome change," Yowell said.

North Carolina Bar Owners Association is also backing this bill. The group recently tweeted out its support.

The executive director Jay Ruth who owns TinyZ Tavern in Wilmington said this move could prove beneficial for the state.

"As bars and restaurants, there would be the $3.75 per bottle that we pay when we buy our liquor at the LBD so this will increase revenue for the state and the bars," Ruth explained.

For those who are worried about over-drinking and liability concerns for bar owners, Ruth said there are already rules in place for that.

"We have to make sure that we're not over-serving our customers now. So you know, you should have absolutely no rule change, if this change comes to pass because you have a responsibility not to over-serve your customers as it is now," he said.

Some North Carolina cities already have social districts, several years ago the brunch bill went into law, and now this bill could be the next step.