Pigeon Forge leaders celebrate record breaking financial year

Pigeon Forge leaders credit liquor by the drink for part of financial success

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One aspect which helped in Pigeon Forge's success last year was the liquor by the drink city ordinance, which got the green light in March 2013. One aspect which helped in Pigeon Forge's success last year was the liquor by the drink city ordinance, which got the green light in March 2013.
While not everyone may agree with selling liquor by the drink, taxes on a martini wind up being used at schools in Pigeon Forge. While not everyone may agree with selling liquor by the drink, taxes on a martini wind up being used at schools in Pigeon Forge.

By LAURA HALM
6 News Reporter

PIGEON FORGE (WATE) - It was a record breaking year financially for Pigeon Forge, a city with about 6,000 residents. City leaders announced Thursday they not only met their financial goal in 2013, they shattered it with a staggering $937 million in tax revenue and spending.

That amount is $30 million more than the year before.

One aspect which helped in the city's success last year was the liquor by the drink city ordinance, which got the green light in March 2013.

City leaders and restaurant owners say the ordinance essentially leveled the playing field, since Gatlinburg and Sevierville could already serve a hard drink.

Because of their permit, bartenders at Calhoun's can mix drinks.

"Folks love our cucumber rain martini," said Service Manager David Branam.

Employees at Calhoun's say being able to serve a stiff drink gives diners more options which ends up helping their business.

"We've definitely seen an increase. I think it's due to the fact that some of the folks that were going to Gatlinburg or Sevierville have now stayed in town a little bit more often," added Branam.

Since March of last year, between 25 to 30 existing restaurants applied for and obtained a liquor by the drink permit. This city ordinance is now helping attract new business.

"We can contribute two restaurants to that passage. One would be Margaritaville restaurant, which they're working on now, and the other would be the move of Hard Rock Cafe from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge," said Mayor David Wear.

While not everyone may agree with selling liquor by the drink, taxes on a martini wind up being used at schools in Pigeon Forge.

"We can help offset some costs in the local schools because that liquor tax does to go support Pigeon Forge city schools," added Mayor Wear.

There is no word yet from Sevier County School officials on how much money those schools will receive and how it will be spent. Parents of students say the possibilities are priceless.

"I definitely think giving the kids better technology, more computers, teachers having the opportunity to have different technologies in their classroom besides just books," said parent Marcie McBride.

City leaders say the LeConte Center, which opened last November, has made a huge impact on business in Pigeon Forge saying it draws thousands of visitors to booked events there who stay overnight, dine, shop, and visit the many tourist attractions.

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