The Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners puts its revision of the $5 to $1 food to beer ratio on hold indefinitely Monday. They also approved the city’s annual budget, which totals $62 million and includes raises for city employees that average more than $3,000 annually, depending on the job.
Commissioners have been debating the proposed change in the ordinance for weeks. It would reduce the ratio to require $2.50 in food purchases for every $1 in beer sales. The revision also prohibits the suspension and revocation of beer permits for businesses that violate the ratio.
Commissioners did agree on retaining the 5:1 ratio for restaurants while amending the ordinance for entertainment venues and amusement services during their last meeting that allows them to sell alcoholic beverages without meeting the ratio.
However, the commission decided to change the current ratio due to insistence from District 1 Commissioner and Vice-Mayor Ray Justice.
He thought this law was unenforceable and that it would take advantage of the city’s resources as well as their finance department.
District 1 Commissione and Vice Mayor Ray Justice, the co-sponsor of the revised ordinance, said the believed the $2.50 to $1 ratio was the very definition compromise, and that the rhetoric of its opposition was ridiculous to him.
District 4 Commissioner Jennifer Milele, who opposed revising the ordinance, presented a map of all the restaurants and bars with current beer permits in Mt. Juliet to demonstrate the 5:1 ratio’s true intentions. Fifty-five bars and restaurants have an on-premises beer consumption permits.
Milele said reducing the ratio could lead to more dive bars being developed in commercial and industrial zoning, especially in Lebanon Road. She told Justice that if ordinance passed, his district could be the bar capital of Wilson County.
“You’re wanting to clean up Lebanon Road right now because there’s too many auto-related businesses there,” said Milele. “You’re going to be coming back in three years in the next election, wanting to clean up Lebanon Road again because there’s too many bars.”
District 2 Commissioner Bill Trivett said he would consider looking at the option of keeping the 5:1 and the entertainment portion of the bill.
District 3 Commissioner Scott Hefner said the current ratio does not have to be changed, but also wants to see more entertainment-driven businesses come to Mt. Juliet.
“I’m tired of driving to either Donelson or the Nashville metro area or anywhere else in Davidson County to go bowling or to go to TopGolf or even to go see a play,” said Hefner.
Hefner asked City Attorney Gino Marchetti, to study all of the food-to-beer ratios in major cities throughout the state of Tennessee. The city’s current ratio is the highest.
Milele said the new ratio would lower the standards of Mt. Juliet and would make it an extension of Hermitage.