Restaurant owners toast changes in Va. happy hour rules

VIENNA, Va. – Starting this month, your favorite Virginia watering hole will be able to advertise happy hour specials on its website.

Anyone who’s ever tried to find out when and which restaurants will be offering happy hour in the Old Dominion knows you won’t find that basic information on an establishment’s site because an age-old law has prohibited the practice.

“It’s really weird that I can’t tweet that we have Happy Hour starting at four o’clock in the afternoon,” says Chef Geoff Tracy, owner of Chef Geoff’s Tyson’s Corner in Vienna.

Tracy is also chairman of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, a group that worked with the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to bring about changes in state liquor regulations during the last 18 months.

“When this law was passed they had never heard of Facebook, Twitter or anything like that. I don’t even think the internet existed,” Tracy says.

Now regulations will be watered down, starting on Jan. 29, in a move welcomed by restaurants across the commonwealth.

Right now, restaurants can only advertise happy hour times inside their restaurant or outside on 17-inch by 22-inch attached signs. That means print, broadcast and online advertisements and promotions were not allowed. When the approved regulation changes take effect “we’ll be able to post the information on the website other than specific prices on the drinks,” Tracy says.

“Being able to advertise them without worrying about the fact that you’re gonna get fined by the ABC or you’re breaking some sort of regulation or law

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