Alcohol consumption

Cornelius to test ‘social neighborhood’ allowing outdoor drinking on Catawba

February 23. By Dave Yochum. A new downtown Lake Norman Social District has been approved by Cornelius City Council in time for St. Patrick’s Day bar parties.

That means St. Patrick’s Day revelers in a no-go downtown area can have open containers outside.

What’s new: HB 890

The state recently passed a law known as the HB 890 that allows social neighborhoods. By connecting several bars/restaurants in a smaller area, people are allowed to walk between them with a specific open container.

This area – there may be more in the future – would stretch from the newly opened Thigs nightclub to the Old Town Public House on March 17.

If all goes well, the neighborhood could open more frequently.


However, the city council also unanimously approved a mini-social quarter at the Old Town Public House, so that customers could, on any day, walk to an adjacent outdoor seating area.

“Given the area that includes Thigs, OTPH and possibly the Cain Center, this would allow people to walk outside from venue to venue,” Commissioner Colin Furcht said.


The opening hours of the social district extend until 10 p.m.

Just a try

For now, this is just a test and Cornelius Police will be monitoring the scene.


“I’m optimistic this will encourage downtown activity,” Furcht said.


In response to businesses struggling with the pandemic, HB 890 allows people carrying alcoholic beverages to stroll through the social district, providing much-needed foot traffic to local restaurants/bars and businesses.

“The idea certainly fits with the development of our downtown arts district and festival street. Cornelius is setting up a very restricted neighborhood within our downtown area in order to assess the benefits and long-term viability,” said Commissioner Denis Bilodeau.

The social district stretches from Thigs to Old Town Public House (OTPH)