House Bill would offer Hoosier stores the option of “outdoor refreshment areas.”

INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) — A bill is before the Indiana Senate that would give cities the ability to serve alcohol in “outdoor refreshment areas.”

It’s a move that Michael Galbraith, president and CEO of Fort Wayne’s Downtown Improvement District, hopes will bring even more events and activities to the city.

If House Bill 1349 is approved, drinking no longer need be confined to the room where the drink was purchased. Cities in Indiana could designate outdoor refreshment areas temporarily or permanently.

The representatives of the federal states approved the bill with 87 to 7 votes. If approved by the Senate, it will be up to the Fort Wayne City Council and other individual communities to decide what to do next.

“At this point, I’m super optimistic,” Galbraith said in an interview with WANE 15. While similar bills have not been successful in the past, he said the outcome will likely be different this time, and a key reason is COVID-19.

“Restaurants have really embraced al fresco dining during COVID and found that people really love it,” Galbraith said. “It’s nice when people can have a cocktail or a beer and walk around this area.”

The bill could generate more support for events at local venues like The Landing, Galbraith explained, where outdoor concerts and vendors could see more crowds with the freedom to roam outside a given building’s grounds.

Guests would be required to wear a wristband in these designated areas and those under the age of 21 are permitted.

Galbraith said this allowance solves the problem that occurs when families and friends are separated at festivals or concerts, when someone is having a drink and has to stay in a certain place until they’re done.

In turn, for local events like Germanfest and the Three Rivers Festival, this could open the door to more ticket sales.

“The possibilities are endless as to what good this bill could do,” Galbraith said, as long as it is safely monitored.

If the Fort Wayne City Council enacts the bill, the community could see those changes closer to the fall, Galbraith said. House Bill would offer Hoosier stores the option of “outdoor refreshment areas.”

Dais Johnston

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