Ocean City Says “No” To BYOB Measure
Ocean City has been a dry town since by law since 1984 and it will remain a dry town.
An ordinance which would allow restaurant patrons to bring their own alcoholic beverages was put on the ballot for the public to decide, and the results were “No” by a margin of nearly 2 to 1.
Andrew Fasy, chairman of the Committee to Preserve Ocean City, has been on the forefront of the debate and is very pleased by the decision, which he believes reflects the resident’s decision to preserve the town’s identity.
“The voters spoke loudly and clearly on this issue, I don’t think there’s any room for interpretation.” Says Fasy.
The issue has been the focus of debate for many of the town’s restaurateurs who have seen the dry laws as archaic.
Bill McGinnity, owner of Cousins Restaurant and BYOB advocate, has been vocal in his support of the proposed ordinance which he believed would have helped businesses during the shoulder season. However with the vote overwhelmingly against his side, he concedes that the people have spoken.
“I think we held our heads high, I think we did it in a respectable way for the community so I think getting it to a ballot is a win.”
McGinnity believes BYOB could have meant a boost for restaurants, which could have been passed down to the staff.
“I was hoping for the positive spin, to stay open more than six months out of the year. To be able to keep my employees working more than six months out of the year.”
Though Fasy believes the public’s decision to vote “No” is a response to preserve the town’s tradition and history, McGinnity believes there is a much different reason why the public voted the way they did.
“Fear. There was a lot of hype on the other side there was going to be drunks in the streets, it was going to migrate into the boardwalk. There won’t be control in the amount of beer and wine they can take into restaurants. I honestly think its fear.”
Though proponents of BYOB claimed not allowing alcohol at restaurants limits the cities growth, Fasy says Ocean City’s reputation as a tourist destination won’t be harmed by the decision.
“The business climate in Ocean City is as strong if not stronger here than in any resort.”
However McGinnity believes ultimately the decision will hurt the town.
“I know a few owners in other cities right now for this to go through and if it would’ve gone through I know of three or four possible restaurants that would have been looking at real estate in this town.”
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