Obscure ABC law forces C.J.’s to give up liquor license

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 6, 2011

C.J.’s Grille, an Andalusia eatery on E. Three Notch Street, has been forced to give up its liquor license because of an obscure ABC law.

The law, which was passed in 1975, makes it illegal for employees to work for two different licensee holders. It is enforceable by the Alabama Beverage Control Board.

“The way it was explained to me was that you can’t be a part-time cashier at Wal-Mart and a part-time cashier at Winn-Dixie, because they both sell alcohol,” Jones said.

Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem for most; however, that was not the case for Jones, who recently took over management of food and beverage operations at the Andalusia Country Club.

“When the (country club) board president went to add my name to the card at the ABC store to purchase alcohol, they said I couldn’t do it because I already had a license,” Jones said.

Lt. Lance Price of the ABC Board said, “Unfortunately, it’s just the law, and if you break it, you can be arrested for it.”

Price said it was his opinion the law was passed for the protection of the licensee.

“I would imagine it prohibits the opportunity for an individual to transport alcohol for sale from one licensed location to another,” he said. “It’s on the books, and we have to enforce it, but we’re not aggressively enforcing it. We work it on a case-by-case basis as it’s brought to our attention.”

Jones said while he is the owner of C.J.’s, he’s technically an “employee” of his own corporation, and in his situation, the consequences of the law is costing him money.

“I’ve had to quit selling alcohol, because I’m managing the country club,” he said. “I had two restaurant servers who wanted to pick up shifts at the country club to make extra money.

“This law not only affects restaurants. It affects grocery stores, convenience stores – people trying to make ends meet,” he said. “It hurts the local business owner, too.”

He said since the first of the year, he has lost “hundreds of dollars” in revenue because of the law in addition to the $600 the liquor license he renewed for 2011.

Jones said he plans to work with local legislators to change the law.