If you want a late-night bite in Chapel Hill these days, you'll need to make it at home or order it to go. Since July 10, Orange County restaurants have been prohibited from serving dine-in alcohol or food orders from 10 p.m to 5 a.m., as per a declaration added to the county's state of emergency order.
Town leaders said the order came as a response to concerns from residents, local law enforcement and University officials regarding crowds gathering at local restaurants in downtown Chapel Hill.
"A lot of comments"
Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said she crafted the amendment with Mayor Lydia Lavelle of Carrboro, Mayor Jenn Weaver of Hillsborough and Penny Rich, chairperson of the Board of Orange County Commissioners.
“We were getting a lot of comments from our residents and our staff saying there were a lot of people hanging out in these establishments on Franklin Street,” Hemminger said. “We knew the governor had not allowed bars to continue, so we started calling restaurants.”
Gov. Roy Cooper’s May 20 executive order moved the state into Phase 2 of reopening and stated that restaurants could open as long as they did not exceed 50 percent of the capacity for the building and set up tables to maintain a 6-foot social distance. Under the order, bars are not allowed to open.
The order defines bars as “establishments that are not eating establishments or restaurants, that have a permit to sell alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption" and "are principally engaged in the business of selling alcoholic beverages for onsite consumption.”
A business that calls itself a bar, but makes 30 percent of its revenue from food and has a kitchen and inside dining area is classified as a restaurant, according to state laws.
Rich said law enforcement asked for an order so they could shut down restaurants operating as bars at night.