Why you'll need to fill out a form for a liquor drink in North Carolina
Ellsworth shows the membership application and a stack of membership cards at Barbary Coast.
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Your next trip to a bar or club in North Carolina could include some additional paperwork and a membership fee, and at least one business owner in Wilmington says it's damaging to sales.
A letter from the State ABC Chairman to the roughly 1,000 private club owners in North Carolina notified them to be up to date with their permit policies.
Those policies include a membership roster for private clubs, which are essentially bars and clubs that serve liquor, but do not offer food. Several business owners say the rule is nothing new, but recent enforcement is.
Stopping customers at the door with forms to fill out is bad for business, according to Eli Ellsworth at Barbary Coast in downtown Wilmington.
"I have personally witnessed people turned off by that, get upset by it and turn around and walk down the street," he said.
Down the street means a bar that doesn't require a membership, according to Ellsworth. He said the need for paperwork is confusing to tourists and locals alike.
"People born and raised in this state might not know what those rules are all about," Ellsworth said. "We are a tourist destination and this law kind of alienates a lot of the people who come here to visit."
Your next visit to a bar or club could cost you more money than you expected, as well. New members must pay at least a dollar to join private clubs.
The letter from the state, re: violence, pointed to recent problems with violence and large events. There have been a few deadly shootings outside clubs in the Charlotte area this year, and one club's already lost its ABC permit.
In 2011, the Rhino Club in downtown Wilmington lost its permit following a fatal stabbing nearby. Ellsworth said any issue with private clubs not caring for their customers is old history.
"In this day and age I don't see the usefulness of the law," he said. "I don't see where it makes anyone any more or any less safe."
The small business owner proposes a change to the law that considers the size and location of private clubs. He said issues in other parts of the state should not hurt the owners and managers in Wilmington who can control their customers.