Numerous restaurants in Richmond are violating, some without knowing, some simply disregarding, what many see as an invasive prohibition on social media promotion.
Gone are the days of Speakeasies, Prohibition-era liquor establishments, where liquor discreetly flowed for those whose tongues were agile with the correct password for entry. Even though billions of dollars now steadily pour into the coffers of alcohol manufacturers, in Virginia restaurants dare not speak easy about happy hour pricing.
Not too long ago restaurants were completely prohibited from promoting happy hour outside of the storefront. In late 2009, the ABC board approved the posting of a 17″ by 22″ sign in the window of a restaurant. This action symbolized forward movement from an organization often thought of as conservative.
When but not What
The momentous change spawned signage in windows, announcing, yes the business has a happy hour–a fact probably already known by 10 of 10 adults. In an urban setting, the sign might make a difference, but in a suburban setting, most restaurants receive specific destination traffic.
What really matters to those seeking the heaviest drinks for recession-light wallets are the prices, the choices, and the times. Times are actually allowed on the posted sign, but no specific mention of available selections, or the special prices is permitted.
“What the customer is deprived of is the information about what kind of specials are being offered,” said Thomas Lisk, an attorney at Eckert Seamans who previously served as chairman of the Industry Advisory Panel to the Virginia ABC Board during its regulatory review process.