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On Tuesday, the Kennesaw City Council unanimously approved creating two new entertainment districts where folks can carry a drink with them as they stroll around. Above: From left are Rob Fox, director of economic development for Kennesaw; city manager Jeff Drobney; Darryl Simmons, zoning administrator; and Kennesaw Mayor Derek Easterling at Bernie’s in downtown Kennesaw, which is included in one of the new entertainment districts.

Visitors to Kennesaw’s downtown bars and eateries will now be able to take their drinks to go.

At its Tuesday meeting, the City Council unanimously approved creating two new entertainment districts where folks can carry a drink with them as they stroll around.

The first would be in the downtown near Depot Park and would include restaurants such as Trackside Grill, Bernie’s, Burger-Fi, the Nest and Lazy Guy Distillery. It also includes the future site of Creekside, a mixed-use development slated to contain two breweries, a distillery and a public green for social gatherings.

The second district would be near the intersection of Cherokee Street and McCollum Parkway at the future site of another planned mixed-use development, 68-acre EastPark Village, which would incorporate dining and public spaces among its features. That community was approved in late 2017 and is scheduled to open in 2022.

The city held a public hearing on the plan before voting, but nobody in the audience had anything to say. Another public hearing was held Jan. 7.

Speaking to the MDJ before Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Derek Easterling said the new districts are good for business, and Kennesaw’s residents want the amenities that are offered in other local towns.

“We’re progressing,” he said. “We have younger people that are coming to the city, and their idea of being able to move about and go, I think it just provides people with opportunities to come into the city, have a good time, and go from one to the other, not be committed to one place, spread the wealth.”

Easterling said city staff based the code allowing the districts on that of other local cities. In Cobb, Smyrna and Acworth already have such districts, and parts of the county around SunTrust Park and the Battery also allow for open containers.

Just like in Smyrna’s district, establishments can serve drinks of up to 16 ounces in paper or plastic to-go cups. Drinkers will only be allowed one of these cups at a time, and will not be allowed to take it outside of the district’s boundaries. All other alcohol laws still apply in the districts as they do in the rest of the city.

Speaking to the MDJ before the vote, Brett Olszeski, owner of Trackside Grill, said he fully supports the change.

“I like the idea,” he said. “A lot of other cities and municipalities have passed it, so it’s kind of like keeping up with the Joneses, but I think it’s a fantastic idea.”

Olszeski said he is ready to serve up to-go drinks immediately.

“It’s just a clear plastic cup, 16 ounces at the most, and I have those in piles right now,” he said. “I may take it a step further and brand that cup, I haven’t made that decision, but I probably will do that.”

Other than cups, Olszeski and the other owners will need a sign notifying patrons of the rules and a map showing them where they can and cannot bring their drinks posted on the door.

Zoning administrator Darryl Simmons said the city will distribute those shortly.

Downtown bars can begin to-go service immediately, but the East-Park Village district will not go into effect until the development there is completed.

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