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Voters approve sale of liquor in Leesburg

LEESBURG, Ga. -- Leesburg officials say a popular Mexican restaurant prompted the city to add two referendums to the election ballot Tuesday concerning alcoholic beverages.

Leesburg Mayor Jim Quinn said Wednesday the opening of San Joe's Mexican Restaurant in Leesburg and the popular consensus among the people of the small town that the restaurant should be able to serve distilled spirits by the drink prompted the council to add the referendums.

"You have to have margaritas at a Mexican restaurant," said the mayor. "The county had passed similar liquor laws years ago that was approved when Chili's came here but (the law) excluded Leesburg and Smithville."

Quinn said during a city council meeting the city's attorney suggested the council vote to put the referendums on the ballot needed to allow the Mexican restaurant to sell alcoholic beverages by the drink.

The first referendum on the ballot concerned the sale of distilled spirits by the drink for beverage purposes Monday through Saturday, while the second was asking voters to authorize the sale of alcoholic beverages by the drink Sunday.

According to election results from the Lee County Board of Elections, 67 percent of the voters approved the first referendum with 476 voting to approve the measure and 232 (32 percent) against it. The second referendum passed with 52 percent of the vote, or 371 votes in favor of Sunday sales and 341 of votes against it.

San Joe's had previously been granted a beer and wine license by the city but now that the referendums have passed, the restaurant can now serve margaritas, said Quinn.

"I think it will help (San Joe's) to do better business and help keep them in business," said the mayor who noted that three previous business at the 285 U.S. 19 location had moved on. "It's going to increase our tax base as well and will bring more revenue in for the restaurant."