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Milner prepares to allow beer, wine by the drink

Milner city council approved a first reading of a pouring license code that will allow the new Backwoods Grill to serve beer and wine by the drink. Owner Tracy Wallace hopes to open the grill in the former Rudy’s Restaurant soon after council gives final approval at its March 18 meeting. The code, little changed from one begun before Rudy’s closed, is a companion code to package sales approved in spring 2008. It includes the same provisions for licensing, distances from church and schools and sign restrictions that are met by Red and White Grocery. ”I didn’t change the old ordinance at all,” said city attorney Newton Galloway. “I treated it as a new section in the code. Provisions for both licenses are the same.” It specifies customers must eat to drink and sets certain hours of alcohol sales. Minor changes are expected to be made before the March final approval. ”It’s not valid until council votes the second time,” said Mayor Joe Bostwick. Praising Wallace, he added, “he’ll abide by this ordinance to the letter.” Copies of the code, chapter 22, are available for public view at city hall, as is the package license code, chapter 21. All city codes are available for view upon request. Wallace pledged to be “very protective” in serving beer and wine, adding he “would make Milner proud.” Council approved the reading 4-1 with councilman Fred Stephens opposed. Stephens said he gave his word not to vote for any alcohol in Milner. Councilman George Weldon said the downtown development plan calls for a restaurant in the building. While the plan did not call for it to serve beer and wine, “alcohol taxes have been a good crutch in these economic times. It’s wonderful to have that income for the community.” Weldon noted sales tax income is down and alcohol taxes from Red and White fill the gap. Wallace, who plans to lease the restaurant from owner Lester Ranew, answered questions about what will be on the menu ‘“ a little of everything served in an atmosphere reminiscent of Cracker Barrel. ”We’ll serve steaks, fish, shrimp, pasta, even fried bologna,” he said. “We’ll offer fresh vegetables, good appetizers and homemade biscuits.” He added he has already contracted to cater to St. George’s Episcopal School during the 2009-10 school year via his wholesale food supply business. Wallace also owns Slices, a pizzeria; El Toro Loco, a Mexican restaurant, in Griffin. ”I don’t have hoodlums drinking in my restaurants,” he said. “Beer and wine is a supplement to a nice steak or pizza.” Arthur Buffington spoke against the code, but stressed he is not against a restaurant coming to Milner. ”We don’t expect drunks floating around,” said councilwoman Betty Wilson. “It’s going to be nice.”

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