A bill to allow alcohol sales to begin earlier in the day is currently being considered by the Tennessee General Assembly. The bill (HB1289/SB705) will effect two locations in Nashville: the newly opened Diner in downtown Nashville and the Scoreboard Bar & Grill near Opryland. It permits these two restaurants to be open at 4:00 a.m. rather than the usual 8:00 a.m. start time on weekdays. It further allows these two restaurants to begin selling alcoholic beverages and beer at 4:00 a.m. on Sundays. The bill has passed the substantive committees and will be considered by the full House and Senate in the next couple of weeks.
The broader question is whether this is a move to allow expanded hours of sale throughout the alcoholic beverage industry. So far this year, legislators have declined to consider a bill that would expand liquor and grocery store hours to allow Sunday sales. During debate on the bill in committee, the sponsors of the bill and the chairman of the House Subcommittee committed to passing legislation that would allow other similarly situated restaurants to also sell as early as 4:00 a.m. If the bill is passed by the General Assembly, we would expect that restaurants interested in doing so will be lining up before the next legislative session to pass bills for their own establishments that operate 24 hours a day.