Some establishments located in the City of Atlanta had difficulty renewing their alcohol licenses before the annual deadline of December 31, 2021. To address this problem, on January 10, 2022, City of Atlanta Councilmember Michael Julian Bond introduced legislation (Ordinance 22-O-1002) during the Public Safety and Legal Administration (PSLA) Committee meeting that would suspend the imposition of penalties for any business that failed to renew its alcohol license by the original deadline of December 31, 2021. Councilmember Bond initially proposed that the hiatus from penalties last through June 30, 2022, but the legislation was amended during the meeting to limit the grace period to two months, lasting though February 28, 2022 instead.
The Councilmembers on the PSLA Committee voted unanimously to pass the legislation as amended. Now the legislation heads to the full City Council for consideration on Tuesday, January 18, 2022. If the City Council passes this legislation as written, which typically occurs when legislation passes a Committee with unanimous consent, City of Atlanta businesses will not be considered delinquent for having not renewed their alcohol license until March of this year.
This legislation, assuming it passes, will be particularly meaningful to many restaurants in the City. Last year, the City imposed an additional requirement on most restaurants seeking to renew their alcohol license for another year. In an attempt to curtail alleged “bad actors” licensed as restaurants yet operating as bars or night clubs (and viewed as contributing to an increase in violent crime), the City Council and Mayor enacted a new requirement that certain restaurants must include with their renewal application “a statement from a certified public accountant evidencing that the establishment derived at least 50 percent of its gross food and beverage sales from the sale of prepared meals of food,” essentially mirroring the state law requirement for restaurants found in O.C.G.A. § 3-3-7(c)(2).
While that new requirement for a statement by a certified public accountant (CPA) became law in Atlanta last February, many restaurant owners were nonetheless unaware of the new requirement, which would not be enforced until November, when the renewal period for alcohol licenses began. Due to confusion surrounding this requirement for a CPA statement, many eating establishments faced the unintended consequence of difficulty meeting the requirement by the December 31 deadline. Should Councilmember Bond’s legislation pass, those restaurants will now have until February 28, 2022 to obtain the requisite CPA statement and renew their alcohol license without penalty.