Jackson City Council approves citywide leisure and recreation district

The ABC has approved the leisure and recreation district, the order is to help struggling businesses.

Jackson City Council approves citywide leisure and recreation district

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Patrons of bars and restaurants in the Capital City will soon be able to get their favorite mixed drinks to go, thanks to city leaders and relaxed restrictions from the state.

The Jackson City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday to establish a temporary citywide leisure and recreation district for the entire city.

City leaders hope the efforts will bring some much needed revenue to bars and restaurants that have been hit hard since closing or shifting to takeout only for almost two months now.

Essentially, customers will now be able to take a mixed drink with them when they leave a restaurant.

They can also order mixed drinks curbside as long as they’re also ordering at least $10 worth of food.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba made it clear during the council meeting that the ordinance does not override any state law.

“This still does not negate the open container law. And so, while they may be able to provide beverages that can go, they have to have a lid on them, and obviously you still can’t drink and drive," Lumumba said.

The state’s Alcohol Beverage Control has approved this measure. It went into effect as of Wednesday afternoon.

Jackson planning and development director Jordan Hillman said the city modeled its ordinance after one already approved for the city of Tupelo.

Lumumba called the measure a chance at “relief” for many businesses that have struggled in recent weeks under the city’s stay-at-home order.

Capitol Grill General Manager Lance Gammill said he closed up shop when Lumumba first issued the order.

“I got the word, we shut everything down. We saved everything that we could save inventory wise, but we’ve just been sitting here idle, waiting to hear some good news," Gammill said.

The ordinance is being called an emergency measure because city leaders say the future of Jackson’s business sector depends on them getting as much revenue as they can to stay afloat.

Gammill agrees.

“It really opens up a whole nother avenue that we haven’t seen before. There are some parts of Jackson that have this, but this part of Jackson, unfortunately, hasn’t been one of them," Gammill said, referring to the resort status that some parts of the city already have at their disposal.

And while he believes this will help -- the temporary district stays in place until the city’s restaurant restrictions are lifted -- he says predicting Jackson’s economic future is tough.

“It’s my opinion as well as others in this industry that this is going to be a slow process, and unfortunately there’s going to be a lot of your favorite mom and pop restaurants that are probably not going to be there anymore," Gammill said. "I can honestly say if I’m being totally honest, we’re gonna be 50/50. We might make it, we might not. But we’re gonna do everything we can to make sure we’re still here next year.”

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