City of Pigeon Forge benefits from liquor by the drink sales

City of Pigeon Forge benefits from liquor by the drink sales

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Liquor by the drink sales generated about $100,000 more in taxes for Pigeon Forge from March 2013 to March 2014. Liquor by the drink sales generated about $100,000 more in taxes for Pigeon Forge from March 2013 to March 2014.

By KAYLA STRAYER
6 News Reporter

PIGEON FORGE (WATE) - The City of Pigeon Forge is getting a big boost in sales tax revenue, largely due to legalizing liquor by the drink.

It passed in a special election on March 14th, 2013. 

Liquor by the drink sales generated about $100,000 more in taxes from March 2013 to March 2014. Officials say all of that money goes to Pigeon Forge schools to pay for things like new playground equipment and updated technology.

Pigeon Forge Mayor David Wear says alcohol related incidents have actually decreased, and things are going better than he expected.

"Liquor by the drink passed last March, and in that year, we've had a year's worth of learning. What we've learned is that it's bringing in a lot of revenue for our schools," Wear said.

Tom Horne works for Diverse Concepts, which owns several restaurants in Pigeon Forge. He says their sales have gone up in the past year.

"We're not losing guests at the door. We don't have any guest erosion like we did before when people couldn't get a liquor by the drink at our restaurants and have to go to one of our sister cities," Horne said.

He says the bartenders are also reaping the rewards.

"They make better tips. They've increased their check averages, they're able to earn a better living," Horne said.

Ken Maples operates the Comfort Inn in Pigeon Forge. He was part of the "Forging Ahead"  group that fought to get liquor by the drink to pass. He says his guests appreciate now being able to have their choice of drink nearby.

"The bottom line is probably 75 to 80 percent of our business here at the hotel is the family based business, so we would never do anything to harm that business," Maples said. 

Mayor Wear says allowing liquor by the drink is also luring new business to Pigeon Forge, like the Hard Rock Café and Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville.

There was a group opposing liquor by the drink before it passed, but 6 News didn't get a response from them.

Officials say they haven't heard of any complaints since it passed.

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