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Spring Hope voters toast mixed drink referendum

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SPRING HOPE — Drink up.

By an overwhelming majority, Spring Hope residents have voted to allow the sale of mixed drinks within town limits.

Residents voted 69.52% (479 votes) in favor of the change to 30.48% (210 votes) against a local referendum allowing liquor by the drink.

The sale of mixed drinks will attract new businesses, Town Manager Jae Kim said, improving both Spring Hope’s tax base and quality of life.

“It’s a good thing,” Kim said. “This is a good economic tool that will attract national chains at some point.”

As the population grows along the new interstate from Raleigh to Norfolk, Virginia, businesses will be looking at Spring Hope. Being able to sell mixed drinks will be a bonus to restaurants interested in opening up in town, Kim said.

The referendum included the sale of mixed beverages in hotels, restaurants, private clubs, community theaters and convention centers.

As of now, the referendum will affect only one restaurant — Michael’s Showside Grill.

Spring Hope joins Nashville and Rocky Mount as the only municipalities in Nash County that allow liquor by the drink.

Nash County doesn’t allow bars and restaurants in unincorporated areas to serve liquor. The county sells packaged liquor in Alcoholic Beverage Control Board stores and allows the private sale of wine and beer.

The Spring Hope Board of Commissioners unanimously authorized the resolution during its August meeting at Kim’s recommendation.

Kim said previously it would be easier to hold the referendum before real demand surfaces and added it was less expensive for the town to hold the referendum during a general election already scheduled.

The Spring Hope Area Chamber of Commerce hasn’t taken an official position on the referendum, but individual chamber leaders were supportive prior to the vote.

“It would certainly open up more possibilities for the town, especially dining,” said Allen Barbee, a former chamber president.