HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- The Short Pump Town Center recently filed a request with the Virginia ABC for a commercial lifestyle center license, which would allow visitors 21 and older to carry open alcoholic beverages and consume them in the mall's common areas on both the upper and lower level.
"It’ll obviously be good for the restaurant scene here, that’s extra business and extra revenue that we’ll be able to capture, but more than that, it’s about enhancing the total experience at the mall and that’s what we’re excited about," said Kimberly Harrison with Housepatality Marketing, which oversees Casa del Barco and the Boathouse, two restaurants at the mall that serve alcohol.
Shoppers would only be allowed to carry and consume alcohol from participating restaurants on site. Restaurant participation is voluntary.
Per Virginia law, the beverages would have to be served in disposable cups that display the name of the restaurant they bought them from. Drinks would not be allowed to be carried to the parking lot.
Casa del Barco would likely offer specialty drinks to-go for shoppers, something bartender Mary Vietmeier said could offer new options for customers.
“Especially if you’re just here to window shop, or you just have one store in particular that you’re going to, especially because we’re right here on the outside of the mall, it’d be so easy to stop in, grab a drink, then go about your visit to the mall. Most people are here more than long enough that it’d be worth it," she said.
Though the possibility of mixed drinks at the mall is bringing in mixed reactions.
Marcus Walker, who visits the mall fairly often, said he supports the idea.
"I would be into it, shopping and having a little mojito is fine, it’s definitely fine with me. I’m into it. I think y’all should bring it," Walker said.
But others say it may be a safety hazard, citing the mall's busy parking lot and nearby roadways.
"It might not be that great with a lot of kids," one shopper from Glen Allen told CBS 6 Tuesday afternoon. "It's not that family-friendly, it's like being in a gigantic bar with a lot of kids walking around, depending on what time of the year it is."
"I do think, as a whole, we are generally responsible adults, so I do have a lot of faith that people will make good decisions, but I think it'll be a welcome change for people who come here, families included," Harrison said.
"It's still Short Pump. I don't think, for the most part, it would be an issue, but of course, you're still going to have the potential risk of a group of 20-something-year-old boys coming in and grabbing a bunch of margaritas and getting reckless on the mall," Vietmeier said. "But on the flip side of that, the mall security is really, really great about being on top of that stuff, so I feel like if that were to become a problem, it wouldn't take them long to get that under control."
The property hopes to receive an official decision on the license in the next three to six months. The perk would likely be available for shoppers by spring 2023.