Posted by: brad – Feb 16, 2017
The owner of the Broadberry, armed with support from Venues around the state, will return to Virginia’s Capital tomorrow morning hoping to create a new liquor license for performance venues in Virginia.
Fritz, who’s been fighting for a new liquor license for venues since last year, has his eyes on H.B. 1526, a bill already targeting live entertainment venues for new exceptions, but he takes issue with the current language.
"I support the idea behind HB1526 however the specific qualifications set forth to distinguish a “live entertainment venue” will pose more challenges for venue owners than intended,” wrote Fritz in a letter sent to the Senate Committee on Rehabilitation and Social Services who will hear the bill tomorrow morning in Senate room B.
His issues lie with language dealing with the new license only being available for venues open four days a week and requiring a majority of tickets sold prior to the day of show.
"Virginia has slowly begun embracing its arts scene,” he wrote, pointing to the support he’s gotten from the state’s tourism corporation and their “Virginia is for music lovers” campaign. "It does not make sense to limit the number of days a venue can be open to four per week when the state is actively promoting itself as a destination for music.”
Fritz is not alone, after reaching out to other independent venues around the state, he got letters of support from The Rives Theatre in Martinsville, The Jefferson Theatre and The Southern (both in Charlottesville and Shakas Live in VA Beach.
"Working in this industry for over 10 years, I can attest live music venues throughout the state are in fact open 4 or more days per week, and requiring 25% or less of tickets remaining unsold 12 hours prior to doors is an unrealistic number,” said Jon Dorner, owner of Shakas Live.
All of these ABC law issues stem from Virginia’s strict food to booze ration which requires 45 percent of total gross sales to come from food in order to get a full mixed beverage license. This requirement has been a thorn in the side of many music venues which aim to offer music as the main course of their business.
While the General Assembly is usually hesitant to change liquor laws in the Commonwealth, H.B. 1526 has already gotten a large amount of support with the full House voting in favor of it 89 to 8.
Fritz’s letter seems to have worked so far; he said he met with Del. Dave Albo, author of the bill and a self-described live music fan, and the legislator promised to change the bill's language. But, according to Frtiz, Albo didn’t provide specific language changes and was hesitant about bill’s success if the changes were introduced.
"He’s worried about the restaurant lobby coming down hard because it changes the food ratio and has a flat monthly fee,” Fritz said, paraphrasing Albo.
The venue owner will head back to the General Assembly building bright and early tomorrow AM hoping to get his issues addressed.
Words by Brad Kutner, image via The Broadberry instagram