No, really — there is no such thing as a bar in Virginia.  As a very deliberate result of the Virginia ABC Board’s regulations on the food/alcohol ratio, there are only restaurants that happen to serve food.

At the end of every year, restaurants must file
a mixed beverage annual report that details alcohol sales and shows the
ratio of food to liquor. ABC stipulates that each restaurant must sell
enough food and soda to account for at least 45 percent of liquor and
non-liquor sales, beer and wine excluded

A recent Food Fight article (which is the source of the previous quote) in Brick [EDITOR’S NOTE, 7/2/16: The Brick Weekly website is gone, so the links have been removed] gives a good overview of the impact this has on local business owners, and views from both sides.  Mostly, it is a government regulation, and just like anything else with the Health Board or the ABC Board, as a restaurant owner it is better to just learn to live with the rules and jump through their hoops and just get back to making money.

God help anyone that can help change the system and these arbitrary limits, but it’s not worth trying to make waves until you are firmly established and can work from the inside.

I still don’t feel like I have a grasp on why this rule is in place, except for the typically cynical view that Richmond is behind the times and too much under the influence of the “Moral” Minority.  The reasons that I have heard so far just ring hollow.  (i.e., This law is not necessary for keeping bars from popping up on every corner.  There are building codes and regulations on usage that can handle that.)

Something just feels wrong about my gut reaction against the regulation, so if someone can explain it, then please do.  I’m all ears (or eyes, in the case of reading responses).

2 Thoughts on “Why There Are No Bars in Virginia”

  • The Commonwealth’s insistence in putting the food ratio with the alcoholic sales are absurd.
    Look at the bar establishments in DC, Maryland, NJ and New York — Virginia needs to get with the program or they will fall behind. The gentrification in Downtown Richmond will benefit from these bars that does not require food.

  • Well, alcohol is really bad for people in first place, and being that Richmond is technically in the Bible Belt, I don’t see how its an exception to any rule, that there are limits to what people can drink in public facilities. But you see, its not a problem. You can go to Kroger’s, pick up some PBR and drink at home to your hearts content. Bars are really sleazy anyway. Who wants that? Lets not copy NJ or NY. Those places are Sodom and Gommorah!

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