Downtown Athens Welcomes its First Liquor Store

Nov 19 | Athens, GA

Story Highlights

  • Spirits on Washington (SOW) is Athens’ first downtown liquor store.
  • For Class A liquor licenses the store must be 100 feet from another liquor store, 200 years from a residential zone, and 200 yards from a church and educational facilities.
  • SOW’s owner says his location barely fulfilled those requirements but he did.  

For more than a year, Jason Leonard knew that he would be turning this shop on 318 Washington Street into the first liquor store in downtown Athens.

”It’s an uncharted thing, this is uncharted water. No one’s ever tried to do this before in history,” says Leonard.

Before Leonard could open for business, he had wait for the school of gerentalogy to move from downtown to the public health campus. The reason? Zoning laws won’t allow a liquor store to open near a school. But schools aren’t the only zoning challenge.

“I think it’s a fine idea. I think everybody’s going to be happy about it. And I think it’ll make it more convenient for people,” says Jeff Oxman. Oxman lives downtown.

”I probably wouldn’t have too much of a problem with it. I mean there’s already so much liquor around here,” says Mathew Burchfield. Burchfield is an Athens resident.

 But some local bars didn’t react quite the same way.

 “I don’t think it’ll affect any bars business wise, but you’d have to be more aware of people trying to bring their own liquor into bars,” says Brett Chism. Chism is the manager at 9d’s.

Leonard is hoping that the people react well to his new business, which he’s calling Spirits on Washington.

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