New ABC Store in Chatham County Approved

A new ABC store could be opened before the end of the year in northern Chatham County.

The North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Control Commission approved the request for a new location at its board meeting last Wednesday.

The application shows that the proposed location would be on Morning Drive and occupy two suites in a strip that is currently under construction.

There is currently an ABC Store at 50050 Governor’s Drive, but that location would be closed upon the new store opening at the proposed site.

A tentative open date has been slated for October 1, 2016 and the new location has a projected first-year sales total of $768,350, per the Chatham County ABC Board.

Bartenders Get Course in Preventing Underage Drinking

The ABC Commission held a meeting to educate restaurant workers about underage drinking at the Chapel Hill Library on Tuesday.

The class was organized by the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission and the Department of Motor Vehicles to teach servers and bartenders how to deal with underage drinking. They also discussed when to cut someone off if they have had too much.

Kat Haney is the Coalitions Director with the ABC Commission

“There is a gap between hearing it once or reading it online or knowing it’s what you have to do. That’s the gap we are trying to fill, we are trying to make [servers] to feel empowered,” said Haney.

These classes come after He’s Not Here and La Residence have faced punishment after serving a group of underage patrons, including former UNC student Chandler Kania, who was then involved in a fatal accident on I-85. Kania was using an ID of an older friend that night.

He’s Not Here has not paid a $15,000 fine yet, according to ABC Commission Spokesperson Agnes Stevens, but ownership must do so by Friday to lessen the suspension of the bar’s alcohol permits.

Haney said that information about underage drinking doesn’t usually get passed down from owners and managers to the one’s actually checking IDs.

“Once they got that permit that information doesn’t trickle down to the rest of the staff so we are trying to do is give them all that information up front so that they feel confident and they can make the right decision,” said Haney.

The class was part of the governor’s task force to combat underage drinking.

According to the task-force website, the average North Carolinian has their first drink at 14.

Haney and the ABC commission have taught these classes around the state and this is their second visit to Chapel Hill. They tailor the class to specific issues in the area and in Chapel Hill that’s fake IDs and foreign IDs.

“Here for example there are a lot of foreign students coming to Chapel Hill so we are very mindful to go over the four forms of acceptable ID and that does not include a library card from Burma,” said Haney.

Examples of the new North Carolina Driver's Licenses. Photo via NC Department of Transportation.

Examples of the new North Carolina Driver’s Licenses. Photo via NC Department of Transportation.

AJ McMillion, a DMW Inspector, detailed some of the common differences between fake IDs and the real thing. He also passed around samples of the new North Carolina IDs.

“I think it’s important for these bartenders to actually feel that ID and hear the security features,” said Haney.

Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said these classes have helped reduce fines and tickets for establishments in Chapel Hill.

“I’ll tell you what we’ve observed since this training has been offered more and more the last few years when we go out and do compliance checks, undercover operations and underage buyer operations, we are seeing the failure rates in Chapel Hill go down dramatically,” said Blue.

An employee from He’s Not Here was in attendance. None of the servers who attended were interested in being interviewed.

The efforts of these classes and the governor’s task force are attempting to change an established cultural norm of underage drinking and that is going to take a long time to do.

TOPO Distillery Celebrates New Law

Top of the Hill owner Scott Maitland had a lot to celebrate last week.

The same day that his son Andrew was born, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law that allows distilleries to sell one bottle of liquor per person, per year

“The final bill passed on Thursday, five minutes after my son was born,” he said. “So I kind of felt like I was giving birth to twins.”

The Top of the Hill distillery on Franklin Street sells craft spirits, such as whiskey, vodka and gin. It is now allowed to sell some of its liquor at the distillery and celebrated with an open house.

The first legal liquor bottle sold outside of the ABC system since 1909 was sold to North Carolina state senator Rick Gunn Thursday morning. Gunn sponsored the bill and helped get it passed.

“We’re super excited,” said TOPO distiller Keith Crissman. “We feel that we now have a chance to get our spirits out to the public”

Before the law was passed, all liquor sales were handled by the ABC commission, meaning anyone wanting to purchase liquor would have to do so at an ABC store.

Despite only being allowed to sell one bottle per person per year, Crissman said he thinks the new laws will make it easier for people to try craft spirits.

“People recognize the quality that craft spirits can bring,” he said. “They maybe want to pick something different than their parents or grandparents drank.”

Maitland said he expects the new laws to help with local tourism because it will make distilleries a more attractive place to visit.

“Whether people are touring breweries, wineries or distilleries, but also diaries, they’ll say ‘hey I can come, I check it out and I can take a bottle home with me’ and that’s a big thing,” he said.

He said he thinks the next logical change is to allow a person to buy one bottle of each product per year, but said after fighting for years to get the current law passed, he would like to take a break and run his business.

For Maitland, the birth of his child and the expansion of his business is something he’s experienced before.

“I got the opportunity to buy (the distillery) right when my daughter was born, so I was reviewing documents while I was feeding her as a week old infant,” he said. “I think it’s really interesting that now Andrew is born and a week later we’re having this event.”

BOG Addresses Substances On Campus

CHAPEL HILL – Earlier this year Governor Pat McCrory challenged the UNC Board of Governors to look at its substance abuse challenges on campus.

Vice Chairman, Frank Grainger, engaged with Governor Pat McCrory, head of the ABC Jim Gardner, Frank Perry from Public Safety, and a few others on Sept. 4 about the strong presence of drugs and alcohol on campus.

“It appears that drugs are becoming more and more prevalent on our campuses” Grainger said.

Grainger says that campuses across the state have been seeing a higher level of substances because drug “pushers” are moving away from the areas they used to frequent.

“Drugs pushers are moving to the campuses more than to the urban parts of the cities now, because they feel that the campuses have more money on them, etcetera and is an easier push for them,” Grainger stated “and the Governor is not messing around with this.”

Another meeting between the Board of Governors and Governor McCrory is scheduled for Tuesday.  Grainger says they plan on working with the campus police chiefs, ABC, and Public safety to coordinate and work together on this issue.

“The president and I have been talking and we’re going to bring all of our police campus chiefs together and let them tell us what’s going on, on their particular campuses so we can report this back” Grainger said.

Along with the drug “pushers,” stores that supply underage students with alcohol will be targeted as a source of the problem.  Working with the ABC and public safety will allow for the BoG to challenge the substances that are coming to campuses.

The next Board of Governor’s meeting is October 11 and will discuss the  September 17 meeting with Governor Pat McCrory.