Lawmakers consider bill allowing non-profit movie theaters to sell beer, wine

Local News

A bill has passed in the Virginia House of Delegates that would allow non-profit movie theaters to sell beer and wine at their concessions. 

“Adding craft beer and a wine opportunity through our sales opens up a different revenue stream for us,” said Ian Fortier, Grandin Theatre executive director.

Current Virginia law requires eateries to make half their sales from food in order to sell alcohol, Fortier said. That’s why he persuaded state lawmakers to draft House Bill 1743, which would exempt non-profit theaters like the Grandin from this requirement.

“To do $20,000 to $40,000 of kitchen and hood and grill work – that’s a very large capital cost,” he said. “So having this exemption for us is something that we think is very valuable.”

Fortier said he believes the bill could help bring more moviegoers to the neighborhood. Grandin Village business owners we spoke with told us they do not have a problem with the idea.

“It might bring more people to the community, and then they venture out to the other restaurants after they go to the movie or before they go to the movie,” said Raymon Morrow, manager at the Community Inn Restaurant. 

“I think it’s a good idea in some aspects,” said Olivia Byrd of Cups Coffee & Tea and Rockfish Food & Wine. “My only concern really is the young staff that they have working and how they might be affected by that.”

“We’d have to revamp our model to make sure that our teenagers were selling tickets and taking tickets and the appropriate individuals would be behind concessions that had the ability and the age and the proper training to serve alcohol,” Fortier said.

The bill still has to pass in the Virginia Senate before being signed into law by the governor. 

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