In case you haven’t heard, Paducah, KY is proposing a project that would allow restaurants, bars, or other hospitality venues to sell alcoholic beverages in specified to-go cups to patrons as they walk the streets of downtown Paducah. The project is the Entertainment Destination Center (EDC) and the idea is to draw people to the downtown area.
In 2016, the State of Kentucky passed legislation allowing municipalities to create Entertainment Destination Centers in tourism and convention districts. Paducah has proposed a large selection of downtown to be considered for this new tourist attraction.
The area would cover South 3rd Street around The Freight House Restaurant, pass the Carson Center, by the flood wall, to the Julian Carroll Convention Center. It would go up Broadway to 5th Street. The Lowertown residential area wouldn’t be part of the EDC.
The pandemic has negatively affected the restaurant industry. The city passed ordinances last summer that provided outdoor dining options to restaurants within city limits. Options that closed a couple of downtown streets allowing picnic table seating in designated areas. Some businesses converted, others didn’t.
Shandies, formerly C.C. Cohen, is one of three downtown restaurants that closed due to COVID-19 shuttering of businesses. Confleur and Dusty Dog were the other two that closed on Broadway.
What other U.S. cities allow drinking booze on the streets?
Memphis, Tennessee has the distinction of being exempt from Tennessee’s statewide ban on open containers. It’s a party on Beale Street. The city permits to-go cups to travel from one bar to the next. It’s a great time with all the ‘live’ music and festival celebrations during the summer months.
New Orleans or the ‘Big Easy’ is a free-for-all. Anyone of age can booze it up anywhere in the city. Most will walk up and down Bourbon Street and to various places within the French Quarter.
Fredericksburg, TX is the heart of Texas wine country. They only allow beer and wine to be served in the downtown area. It’s been very successful and brings in lots of tourism dollars.
Other towns that allow drinking in the streets have rules for those that imbibe such as abiding by ‘the last call for alcohol’, only one drink in a 16-ounce plastic cup, or keeping the boozy location to a confined area.
What is Paducah’s proposed plan?
The EDC would operate daily from 6 am to 3 am. This is the time participating businesses are open. The city would design the to-go cups for participating businesses. Right now, Paducah’s downtown area is a mix of restaurants and bars. Most bars serve light appetizers but their main source of income comes from drinks. Bars like Bourbon and Barrel, The Gorilla Bar, The Johnson Bar, and 1857 Hotel.
Drinks must stay within the Destination Center and are to be disposed of within the EDC. You can’t bring outside drinks into the EDC and the cups can’t be refilled.
What’s the process to become an EDC?
The plan was presented at the Paducah City Commissioners meeting held on Tuesday, March 24 by Business Development Specialist Kathryn Byers. An ordinance is expected to be adopted in April outlining the specifics authorizing the city to apply for an EDC through the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
The process is publicized with a 30 day comment period. Once this is handled, the city submits the application, probably in late April. The State visits Paducah to check things out in person. After the comment period is over and the plan is approved by the state, the city can start the project. The hope is to have the program going this summer.