Social district to allow outdoor alcohol consumption planned for Village

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 27, 2022

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GROSSE POINTE CITY — Patrons of Village restaurants and bars may soon be able to enjoy an adult beverage to go.

At the behest of Main Street Grosse Pointe, the Grosse Pointe City Council voted unanimously July 11 in favor of creating a social district for The Village. The social district’s boundaries — referred to as the Grosse Pointe Village Loop Social District — are Kercheval Avenue between Cadieux and Neff roads, and Notre Dame Street and St. Clair Avenue from Kercheval to the alley entrances and Kercheval Place.

Social districts were first implemented in Michigan during the pandemic to help struggling bars and restaurants, Main Street Executive Director Cindy Willcock said. Because the program “proved to be so successful at revitalizing downtowns,” Willcock said the Michigan Legislature recently got rid of what was supposed to be an end date for social districts in 2024, allowing them to continue in perpetuity.

Social districts don’t mean that people can drink alcohol anywhere outside in the business district, though. Patrons are only able to consume alcoholic beverages within a specific, designated commons area, and only during set hours and from participating businesses. That area doesn’t include parking lots.

“It didn’t seem like a smart thing to allow drinks at any time in the parking lots,” Willcock said.

Patrons must use specially marked cups from participating businesses, and they cannot take a cup from one participating business and use it at another participating business.

In The Village, social district hours will be from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays and noon to 10 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays.

City Councilwoman Maureen Juip wanted to know why there were afternoon hours on weekends, when other social districts — like the one in Grosse Pointe Park — are “much more focused on evenings.”

Willcock said that’s because the Park’s social district is “more of an evening destination.” She said Village retailers asked for the earlier start time, so they could benefit from potentially higher patron traffic. Because many retailers close by 7 p.m., Willcock said they wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of the social district as much if the hours were later.

“This was something that really was pushed by the retailers, to create that vibrancy (and) foot traffic,” Willcock said.

She said the creation of the social district will give Village businesses “an opportunity to work together.

Juip also wanted to know if the social district plan had “been developed in coordination with” the City’s Department of Public Works and Public Safety.

Willcock said it had.

With approval from the council in hand, Main Street Grosse Pointe will next submit paperwork to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ Liquor Control Commission for approval. Willcock said Main Street Grosse Pointe would be working with restaurants in the commons areas to facilitate their applications, if they’re interested in participating. She said Main Street would be providing appropriate signs, marketing materials and supplies, as well.