Restaurant and bar owners are giving three cheers to a change in regulations when it comes to Happy Hour. It will soon be legal to advertise those drinking times in Virginia.
Ads for Happy Hour had to be on a small sign outside, and bartenders say you couldn't even tell someone the hours over the phone. By January 29, that will all change, because the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage just announced changes to regulations when it comes to advertising.
The ABC just told business owners they can use other means, including online, print or broadcast.
"We're looking forward to it," said Rob O'Connell, who manages Halligan's Bar in Shockoe Bottom. He says he's already brainstorming ways he's going to get the word out.
"We have some ideas, but I don't want to release them all just yet," he said.
O'Connell says many regulations about Happy Hour were decades old. The ABC did a review and made the changes.
While advertising will soon go beyond the four walls of the establishment, there are still some restrictions. You can't post how much the drinks will cost, or the brand.
Still, letting people know about hours is a boost for places like Halligan.
"It's good to inform the potential patrons of some of the sales and stuff that's going on," said Carson Dugger, a customer at Halligan's.
In places like Shockoe Bottom, where restaurants and bars are side-by-side, some wonder if it will increase competition.
"Everybody kinda works together down in there in the Bottom," said Holly Frahm, another Halligan's customer. "I think everybody benefits."
For the customers, that means now knowing who has the best deal.
Other big changes: restaurants and gourmet shops with on- and off-premises licenses can now sell closed containers of wine beer or cider for 'take out.' Before, only beer could be sold in a closed container.
In February, places can start infusing distilled spirits with things like fruit and herbs. Until then, that process is not allowed.
All of these regulation changes were approved by former Governor Bob McDonnell.
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