Ordinance change sparks wine bar development in downtown Lexington

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LEXINGTON, N.C. -- A vote to change the alcohol ordinance in Lexington has sparked interest in development and new wine bar businesses downtown.

Sophie's Cork & Ale will be the first to open in spring 2016 since the vote.

Future owner Cynthia Milligan said she and her husband fell in love with downtown Lexington and is glad the ordinance change has allowed a dream of hers to become a reality.

“We want it to be a place where everybody wants to come and visit with friends and relax and have a drink and socialize and just hang out,” Milligan said.

The business will feature a tasting bar for wine, a separate bar for craft beer and wine and small plate appetizers, retail and space for live music.

Assistant City Manager Terra Greene sent the following statement in response to the potential growth in the local economy:

“With business development as a top 10 goal of Lexington City Council, being business friendly provides the opportunity to attract the types of restaurants and entertainment venues desired by the community.

In addition, it is equally important to respond to the needs of existing restaurants and businesses. Until the ABC referendum was passed Nov. 2014, the City had received complaints from business owners who wished to only sell beer and wine, but were required to obtain a mixed beverage permit at an additional cost of $1,000. Responding to the business owner requests, a referendum was offered and the citizens voted to allow on-premises malt beverage as a stand-alone permit, and thereby decouple it from mixed beverage permits.

By voting affirmatively last November, it has opened avenues for new business inquiries in the City of Lexington; most recently wine bars in the heart of Uptown Lexington. We would estimate half a dozen contacts have been made with three tangible possibilities in the pipeline, at least one of which may open in short order. City Council paved the way for the citizens to act and now business is responding with enthusiasm!”

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