Whether you’re new to town, or you’ve been gone all summer, there are a few unique aspects to Savannah’s nightlife that you should know about...
Yes, it’s true, if you’re over 21 you can walk around downtown with your libation of choice, but that doesn’t mean you can pour a bottle of vodka in a Big Gulp and set out to stumble around town. There are a few rules you should know to avoid ending up on the wrong side of an open container citation.
First of all, your drink has to be in a plastic cup no larger than 16 oz. No bottles or cans.
Second, just because you can walk around with a beer in a cup does not mean you can drive around with one (you’d be surprised how often that question is asked).
Third, there are geographical limits. Don’t carry around a beer at the mall just because you walked around with one on Broughton Street. Boundaries extend from the river south to Jones Street (further south to Forsyth Park during official festival periods) and are bounded on the east by the big railroad tracks to the river and on the west by the Talmadge Bridge and Boundary Street.
If you were gone all summer, you might not know that the rules are changing for smoking in bars. Consider yourself warned.
After a drawn-out public debate that pitted personal freedom against public health, the City Council voted last month to adopt a new ordinance prohibiting smoking in bars and at most outdoor seating.
Here are the basics: Starting January 1, 2011, there will be no more smoking in bars. Seriously. Don’t try it. The fine for a first-time violation is $100.
Smokers will have to step outside to get their nicotine fix, but you can’t stand just anywhere and puff away. You’ll have to be at least 10 feet from nearest door or window (when that’s not possible, a “reasonable distance” is allowed, the point being that no smoke should blow back into the establishment).
Outdoor seating will also become non–smoking, except a few places that meet specific criteria set forth in the ordinance. If the outdoor seating is at least 50 percent of the indoor seating, then 20 percent of the outdoor seating can be designated as smoking. Confused? Be sure to pay attention to new signs that will probably start popping up in December.
If you’re under 21, your options are limited, especially if there’s a band in town you want to see.
18–20 year olds used to be allowed in bars that had live music, but that changed back in 2006 (officially long enough that you can’t just say you didn’t know it had changed).
If you’re not 21, don’t even try to get into bars, and you’re also banished from “hybrid” establishments (places that are restaurants during the day, but that turn into bars after 10 p.m.)
Don’t despair, though. After several years with a distinct lack of under 21 friendly music and entertainment, things are starting to improve. For a list of places where you can hang out, check out a story in this very issue of Connect.