Ocean City, NJ Rejects BYOB Initiative – For Now

A recent initiative to bring BYOB (bring your own booze) into New Jersey’s Ocean City restaurants was struck down on the last day of August this year. The Committee of Petitioners for the initiative unanimously decided to withdraw their petition to allow voters to decide the issue this November. But why?


They cited a New Jersey state statute that does not allow restaurants to regulate how much alcohol their guests are allowed to bring in to the location.


Instead, the committee now aims to get the statute changed, then (hopefully) put the BYOB issue to test with the voters in 2012.


Ocean City currently has no bars and no liquor stores. It also does not allow alcohol sales at its restaurants.


Opposition to the BYOB Initiative


Many restaurant owners who are happy with the city’s no-liquor-sales ordinance, are ironically also pro-BYOB. They claim that alcohol use is a personal choice that would help many of their patrons to enjoy the restaurant experience even more.


There are other residents of the town, however, who are afraid a bring-your-own-booze ordinance would damage the city’s family-friendly reputation. Opponents argue that, just as with a gated community, new residents of Ocean City know the restrictions when they move in.


The town has been “dry” since it was founded in the 1879. With miles of guarded beaches, a two-and-a-half mile boardwalk, and a historic-style downtown shopping area, Ocean City has been known as a safe and family-friendly location for over 100 years.


One City Councilman stated that, “I certainly do [drink] and the town could float a battleship just with the booze that’s in the lockers in the homes,” but that many homeowners buy in Ocean City because alcohol is not publicly sold nor served.


Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian, a stout critic of the BYOB initiative, is not ruling it out 100%. Instead, she is recommending it be put to a vote by the city’s residents. If the BYOB petitioners have their way, residents will get just that chance come next fall.



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