CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Bars that require memberships are a thing of the past in North Carolina.

For decades, State Alcoholic Beverage Control laws required establishments’ owners to charge a small fee so that a potential patron could become a member and get beer, wine or a mixed drink. However, all that changed when Gov. Roy Cooper recently signed a bill eliminating that requirement.

Bar owner Vincent Chirico likes the change. He said he never wanted to charge a cover and doesn’t think anyone should have to pay to get into somewhere just to pay more money.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Chirico said. “The membership thing always did feel a little bit restrictive. I think there’s a lot of other bars that do a lot more volume, and it’s definitely a bigger pain in the butt for them than it is for us. But it is nice not having to do that for every single guest that comes in the door,” he said. 

Under the new rules, private bars will now be known in state law as bars that primarily sell alcoholic beverages and don’t serve prepared food.

Jason Ruth, vice president of the North Carolina Bar Owners’ Association, said some customers have privacy concerns when it comes to giving out their personal information.  

“This is a very transitory state,” Rush said. “Now we have a lot of people moving in from the Midwest, the Northeast, and even the west. They have no idea what this law is about. And quite honestly, as bar owners, it’s been very difficult to explain to them what the law is actually about.”   

Ruth said the ultimate goal is to modernize the state’s prohibition-era liquor laws. He said it’s time for North Carolina to become more progressive in the way it deals with liquor.