Liquor license fee refund helping local businesses hit hard by pandemic

Richmond County

AUGUSTA, Ga .(WJBF) – More than 100 local bars and restaurants could get some relief to keep their businesses open during the pandemic.

Many local bars have been hit hard by the pandemic, some shutting down for weeks, making it hard for some businesses to stay afloat. One way the city of Augusta is helping out is by refunding 2021 liquor license fees

Clifton Thomas opened his sports bar Cliffism’s Sports and Spirits last year.

“We opened right in the middle of the pandemic and it was rough,” Thomas said.

Just a couple of months after opening, COVID-19 shut him down and even after people were allowed back inside, it’s been tough keeping the business open.

“You have to pay all the bills. They’re still constantly coming and if you get one person in the door or a thousand people in the door, you still have to pay those bills,” Thomas said.

Now, thanks to Augusta commissioners, some relief is on the way.

“The commission has taken action to waive fees for the 2021 liquor license and if they’ve made payments on their 2021 license, the commission has approved for them to get a refund,” said Development and Planning Director Robert Sherman.

For Thomas, the refund means more than $4,000 going back into his business.

“Now that we have this money, we can use it to maintain. We may use half of it to pay the lease for a couple of months. This money is a big help. It’s an extreme help and I’m so glad that they made the decision to return the money to us,” Thomas said.

140 local bars and restaurants who had to close during the pandemic could benefit from the refunds

Thomas said it’s a way to keep their doors open.

“It gives you a sense of relief that you can actually survive and use that money towards your business.”

Notices were sent out to the businesses who are eligible for the reimbursement on February 23. They have 30 days to respond to receive the reimbursement.

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