January 31, 2024 at 5:25 p.m.
Many of us senior citizens, espcially the truly elderly like this reporter, remember when Lincoln & Gaston counties were dry. I'm not talking about the weather; I'm referring to alcoholic beverage sales.
Times have certainly changes--but then, that's the way it always was. Following the end of Prohibition, you could buy and consume beer at a business right on the Courtsquare, but that all changed.
In the mid-20th Century, there were three places in Lincoln County where you could drink alcoholic beverages on premises--although the legality in one or more of those cases was questionable. They were the Country Club, the VFW and the Moose lodge. If you wanted to buy a beer on Sunday, you went to East End on Highway 321 just south of Maiden--the town of Maiden was still dry on Sunday.
Lincolnton got an ABC store and eventually joined the rest of the state with liquor by the drink.
South Carolina has long had liquor stores. As for liquor by the drink, private clubs there can sell it Monday through Saturday, 10:00 am until 2:00 am. Retail liquor stores operate Monday through Saturday, 9:00 am until 7:00 pm. They are closed on Sunday. Beer sales are 24 hours a day Monday through Saturday--no Sunday sales permitted unless allowed by the county.
All that is about to change. A bill in the South Carolina legislature would allow the sale of liquor on Sunday by licensed retail dealers in a county or municipality that authorizes the sale of liquor.
In local news, the Lincolnton City Council will talk at its meeting this Thursday (Feb. 1st) about establishing a social district in downtown Lincolnton.
Social districts have been implemented in various towns and cities across the state since the North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation a couple of years ago allowing municipalities to designate areas where open containers of alcoholic beverages purchased from licensed stores can be consumed outdoors on sidewalks.
Kannapolis was the first town to establish a social district just weeks after the bill was signed. Norwood, a small Stanly County town on Lake Tillery was the second.
Larger cities like Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, Charlotte & Asheville also approved social districts.
Hickory, which already had a commons area where customers of three adjacent businesses could consume alcoholic beverages outside established a larger social district under the new law.
Gastonia approved a social district in April of this year allowing outdoor consumption of alcohol from CaroMont Park on the west to Broad Street on the east.
Newton has a social district, as do Mooresville, Huntersville, Salisbury, Albemarle, Monroe and many, many more.
This map shows social districts in towns across North Carolina.
The times they are a-changin'.