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Silver Creek Saloon seeks same liquor rights as city bars
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    Silver Creek Saloon wants the same rights as bars in the Statesboro city limits, and owner Judy Smith asked Bulloch County Commissioners Tuesday to consider ordinances that will allow them to serve liquor in the rural, Old Register Way establishment.
    Silver Creek was known as Bill’s Place for about 30 years, but the Smiths — Judy and husband Bob  — bought the bar in 2005.
    “At the time it was a pretty rough place,” she told commissioners, but “we did what we could to change the overall demeanor of the establishment.”
    Back when it was Bill’s, the bar had a reputation for knife fights and other violence, but since the Smiths took over, the bar has rarely been mentioned in local police reports, and violence and other nonsense is not tolerated, she said. A security team monitors the crowd and ensures that no fights are allowed, and patrons who have imbibed more than they should are offered a quiet place to sober up, food and coffee, and even a ride home if needed, she said.
    But the bar wants the same opportunities as other establishments that serve alcohol. While virtually the only bar outside the city limits, Silver Creek should be afforded the same rights, Smith said.
    The City of Statesboro is currently discussing ordinances that would allow businesses serving alcohol, including liquor by the drink, to distinguish  themselves as restaurants, taverns or bars. Smith asked county commissioners to consider ordinances that would allow Silver Creek Saloon to serve liquor.
    “We are a bar... we have no problem with some food service,” she said. City officials are discussing requirements that mandate a percentage of a business’ sales be food, depending upon the designation of bar, restaurant or tavern.
    Currently, patrons bring their own liquor, but are made to keep it outside in vehicles. Sometimes, if undetected, they sneak it in, she said. The former owner allowed brown bagging - patrons bringing liquor inside and then buying mixers from the bar, as well as beer.
    “We want to be able to have liquor service in our establishment,” she said. “We have the only place in the area where you can go sit and listen to a good country band. We have good security and are equipped to handle liquor. We just want to even the playing field.”
    It can create problems when people go outside the bar to drink liquor, then come back inside. If they were allowed  to purchase mixed drinks in a controlled environment, it would likely be a safer situation, Smith said.
    Commissioners appeared interested in Smith’s request.
    “I think I understand what you are saying,” said Bulloch County Commission Chairman Garrett Nevil. “We would probably like to see what he city does and see how they end up with this, see what direction they’re going with it.”
    Smith said patrons are more likely to violate the law by having open containers in their vehicles, and by driving drunk, when  they bring their own liquor.
    Customers buying drinks inside would be less likely to become too inebriated, and security employees could better monitor possibly volatile situations, taking intoxicated patrons to a quiet area to sober up, and offering a limo service to take  them home safely, she said.
    “Be patient with us,” Nevil said. “We’re going to consider all the facts.”

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