New happy hour regulations signed into law

Published: Feb. 25, 2019 at 6:48 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Bars and restaurants around the state could soon be seeing more business roll in with the passing of a new happy hour law.

A bill that grants business owners more freedoms when it comes to advertising happy hour was signed by Governor Ralph Northam earlier this month.

The bill allows businesses to post more happy hour details, such as prices or drink specials, and more creative marketing techniques. However, the bill says that techniques can’t promote over-consumption or underage drinking.

The bill passed the senate unanimously, and later in the house with 94 in favor and 2 opposed.

“Happy hour was like this boogeyman word that we weren’t allowed to say," said business owner Jake Crocker.

He owns a few business in The Fan neighborhood, including F.W. Sullivan’s and Lady Nawlins on West Main Street.

He says a law like this could help him reach more customers, which was very difficult under current laws because he was prohibited from advertising happy hour deals on social media or even just saying it over the phone.

“We did a really nice specialty cocktail menu at a pretty reasonable price this past year. No one knew about it because I couldn’t tell them," he said.

Other local owners are also looking forward to the law, including Robyn Chandler of Cary St. Cafe.

“It’s been a long time coming,” she said.

Chandler plans to adopt more creative marketing techniques when the law goes into effect.

She says that more patrons could help offset the cost of alcohol, as Virginia business owners actually don’t get any sort of discount when buying alcohol for their establishments.

“When I go buy my liquor, I pay the same price as you do when you buy your liquor," Chandler said.

Even with these new freedoms, Crocker says that he hopes business owners remain responsible.

“We don’t want to see $.05 shots, or $1 drafts, or something like that. That’s a good value for the customer, but that’s just a poor business model. It’s going to get businesses in trouble, and that’s going to lead to over consumption,” he said.

The new happy hour laws are set to go into effect on July 1.

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