Hundreds Celebrate Salisbury’s Downtown Social District

The Latest:

Visitors to downtown Salisbury can now walk around with their alcoholic beverage of choice thanks to the execution of a new social district.

The Downtown Salisbury Social District (DSSD) kicked off Friday, July 1st, after months of preparation, discussion, merchant information sessions and final city council approval.

A social district is designated area in which alcoholic beverages are allowed to be carried in open containers on the street.

Salisbury’s Social District follows the passing of the Bring Business Back to Downtown Bill by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, which officials say aims to increase economic vitality in downtowns across North Carolina.

In the new social district, visitors will be able to buy an alcoholic beverage in a special DSSD cup from an ABC-permitted, participating business.

Participating businesses, including retailers that allow drinks into their stores, will feature a “Downtown Salisbury Social District” sticker at the door/window, according to a news release.

Officials say DSSD boundary signs will be posted along the route over the next few days.

A boundary map also is available on the Downtown Salisbury website, and accessed via the QR code on all social district signs.

Officials say drinks must be consumed within the social district and before entering any vehicle.

Visitors may stroll within the district Monday through Sunday between 12 p.m. and 12 a.m., and within Bell Tower Green Park, Monday through Sunday, as follows:

  • November 1st through March 1st: between 5 p.m. and park closing.
  • March 2nd through October 31st: between 6 p.m. and park closing.

Officials say alcoholic beverages may not be consumed or sold during and within the boundary of a public street festival, during a special event sponsored by the City of Salisbury, or within the boundary of Bell Tower Green Park when the event is permitted and held per city ordinance.

This does not prohibit the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages within Bell Tower Green Park pursuant to a properly licensed and permitted event, according to a news release.

Click here for more information on rules and regulations for The Downtown Salisbury Social District.

Original Story (1/10/22):

SALISBURY, N.C. – You could soon stroll the streets of downtown Salisbury with a drink in hand.

A business stakeholder group is pushing the city to create a “social district” where open containers would be allowed.

“We hope it’ll be a driver for tourism. We know that we’ll be one of the first of a handful of cities to pass this,” says Samantha Haspel, with Downtown Salisbury Inc.

It’s something Haspel thinks could make downtown Salisbury a destination — the ability to allow local bars, restaurants, and other businesses to sell open containers of alcohol that customers can walk out with and enjoy while strolling through downtown.

Governor Roy Cooper signed a bill last year allowing “social districts” statewide.

“I think there are a lot of misconceptions about social districts. I think the ideas that come to mind are Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Bourbon Street. And that really isn’t how we expect our district to run,” Haspel says.

Instead, she hopes it will be an opportunity to create extra revenue for local businesses already hit hard by the pandemic, and attract new ones.

Salisbury is hoping to see the same success they saw just down the road in Kannapolis, where a social district was established late last year.

Kannapolis has specific rules requiring special labels on open containers, limiting the size to 16 ounces, and limiting when the social district is allowed to operate.

“A lot of my customers want to go out and have a drink downtown,” says Victoria Sanchez, General Manager of La Cava restaurant in Salisbury.

She’s excited about how a “social district” could bring more foot traffic downtown, especially at night.

“Little bit of, I wouldn’t say motivation, but a little bit more like an incentive to come downtown,” she says.

Salisbury City Council would have to approve the “social district.” It is expected to consider the idea next month, and a vote could come as soon as March.

Public Engagement Sessions:

Friday, January 14 – 8:30 a.m., virtual (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88327750435)
Tuesday, January 18 – 11:30 a.m., in-person at 130 S. Main St.
Wednesday, January 19 – 5:30 p.m., in-person at Mean Mug
Thursday, January 20 – 5:30 p.m., virtual (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82999892045)