Before July 1, it was illegal to advertise a “Wine Wednesday” or a “Thirsty Thursday” at a Virginia bar or restaurant. Now, these establishments can freely market their happy hours with puns and price listings, a progressive step forward in a state with otherwise old-fashioned liquor laws.
The change was brought on by a lawsuit filed against Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control last year from restaurateur Geoff Tracy, owner of Chef Geoff’s on New Mexico Avenue and co-owner of Chef Geoff’s Deluxe Hospitality.
Geoff argued the law was ridiculous and that it went against his free-speech rights, which ultimately hurt his business. As a solution, two bills were introduced on behalf of Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. They passed overwhelmingly.
“I’m glad we were able to help contribute to this process,” says Tracy. “When you have a chance to clean up unnecessary regulation, why not do it?”
According to the official Virginia ABC website, happy hour advertising includes: “prices, use creative terms, promote the time span of their happy hour, list specific drink types and brands, and promote drink specials in advertisements, flyers, social media, and their website.”
For Scott Parker, who owns various Arlington establishments such as Don Titos and A-Town Bar and Grill, the change is long-overdue and allows Arlington bars to properly compete with spots who were unaffected by this rule in DC.
“It’s been crazy that all of these years, we haven’t been able to do this,” Parker says.
Virginia ABC still prohibits happy hours between 9 PM and 2 AM, along with the advertising of bottomless drinks and two-for-one specials. (Sorry, mimosa lovers).