Wine bar co-owner requests ‘social district’ in Manteo

By on February 16, 2023

Proposal would allow alcoholic beverages on certain streets

NouVines co-owner Garret Cameron brought his social district idea to the Manteo Commissioners.

If town commissioners take up the idea, lawfully walking around downtown Manteo with open containers of alcohol could become a reality.

The co-owner of a Manteo wine bar gave a presentation to the Town of Manteo Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, Feb. 15 about the benefits of creating a downtown “social district”—a specific area where alcoholic beverages in designated containers are permitted on the street.

Twenty-one cities and towns in North Carolina already have social districts, according to presentation documents Garret Cameron, co-owner of NouVines with his wife Lori Wilkinson, shared with commissioners. Places with social districts range from major cities like Charlotte and Raleigh to smaller towns like Selma and Sylva.

“These are a list where you can talk to your fellow commissioners,” Cameron said, noting that those locales “have already introduced this and are already working with this program and are having tremendous success.”

To create a social district, the town must determine the exact geographic area of downtown to include in the social district and file with the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Commission, among other requirements, according to Cameron’s presentation.

While Cameron’s presentation is a preliminary step in the creation of a social district, Manteo Town Manager Melissa Dickerson said the idea is one that the Town’s Mainstreet Advisory Council has discussed, adding that officials have reached out to a local Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) agent about Cameron’s proposal. If the commissioners indicate an interest in moving forward, Dickerson explained that the town would solicit community input and present a plan to the board at a later date.

In his presentation, Cameron touted the economic benefits of a social district, asserting that in other states that have them—including Louisiana, Georgia and Nevada—as well as in North Carolina, some trends have become clear.

“Virtually every district reports an increase in both taxes and merchant revenue,” he said.

Social districts increase tourism, make the downtown area a destination, provide “a broad social and cultural experience for residents and visitors” and create revenue opportunities for existing and new bars and restaurants through offering drinks to go, according to Cameron’s presentation.

“One of the more interesting facts that I found in studying the places where this already exists…is people drink more responsibly when they are on the move versus sitting down at a bar and being static,” Cameron said. The creation of social districts in other states and in North Carolina has not spurred an increase in criminal activity, he asserted.

“In fact, in most places, they’re recording a decrease in crime because people are drinking more responsibly, and there’s more people out there,” Cameron said. He noted that when “people get stupid…they get recorded now. It’s not just the cameras that are in cities, so all of these things help.”

Cameron made his presentation following conversations he said that he and other local business owners have had with ALE officers during their recent inspections.

“A large number of us all got inspected roughly at the same time, and In every case, an ALE officer brought up this,” he said of social districts.

Cameron said an ALE officer was in downtown Manteo on New Year’s Day and told him there were people with open cups, noting “at least 2,000 infractions” the officer could have charged for related to that. In such cases, ALE charges both the individual with the open container and the business from which they bought the alcohol, he added.

“ALE has given us, what I feel, a warning,” he said.

During public comment, resident Michael Basnight called both the social district idea and the idea of connecting Manteo with other area towns like Elizabeth City and Edenton with passenger ferries—another presentation given at the meeting— “interesting” and “encouraging.”


Barnhill Contracting Company will receive sealed proposals for Manns Harbor – EMS/Fire Facility (EMS-8), Kitty Hawk – EMS/Fire Facility (EMS-9), Manteo – Youth Center on January 09, 2024. Times to be given on via addendum #01. See the following SCOPE OF WORK: BP 100 – General Trades, BP 105 – Final Cleaning, BP 205 – Demolition, BP 390 – Turnkey Concrete, BP 400 – Turnkey Masonry, BP 500 – Turnkey Structural Steel & Misc. Steel, BP 505 – Light Gauge Metal Trusses, BP 740 – Roofing, BP750 – Siding, BP 790 – Caulking/Sealants, BP 800 – Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware/Toilet Specialties/Accessories/Division 10, BP 840 – Curtainwall/Storefront/Glass/Glazing, BP 925 – Drywall/Framing, BP 960 – Resilient Flooring/Carpet/Base/Epoxy, BP 980 – Acoustical Ceilings, BP 990 – Painting and Wall Coverings, BP 1230 – Finish Carpentry and Casework, BP 1250 – Window Treatments, BP 2100 – Fire Protection, BP 2200 – Plumbing, BP 2300 – HVAC, BP 2600 – Electrical, BP 3100 – Earthwork/Turnkey Site, BP 3213- Site Concrete, BP 3290 – Landscaping. Scopes of work may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager.

Bid Location and Time: Bid opening will be held in the Barnhill Contracting Rocky Mount Training & GPS Technology Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Time is as follows: January 09, 2024 at 10:00am and 2:00pm. Times per packages to be given on via addendum #01.

Barnhill Contracting Company will receive, open, and read publicly all bids received in person in the Training & GPS Technology Room at the main office and listed with the virtual viewing at the link to be posted on Barnhill’s Plan Room.

Bids will not be accepted from bidders that are not pre-qualified. No facsimile or email submissions are permitted. Sealed bids are to be hand delivered to the bid opening location noted above or mailed Sealed Bids can be delivered before 9:00am the day of the bid to the Barnhill Contracting Company Office at 800 Tiffany Blvd., Suite 200 Rocky Mount, NC 27804. Attention “Clint Hardison.”

The pre-bid meeting will be held in Person & Zoom Meeting on December 06, 2023 at 10:00 am at the Barnhill Contracting’s Rocky Mount Main Conference Room: 800 Tiffany Bvld, Rocky Mount, NC 27804.

The pre-bid meeting link can be located on Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room ( and below. A preferred brand alternates meeting will be held via the same link at the end of the Prebid meeting.

Bid Documents can be viewed or downloaded through Barnhill’s online Building Division Plan Room ( after 12/04/2023.

All Bidders are strongly encouraged to include opportunities for HUB participation wherever possible in their respective Bid submission.  HUB participation is a part of this contract and must comply with all requirements set forth in the Bid Documents.

The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to add pre-qualified bidders. The Construction Manager and Owner reserve the right to reject any and all bids. Should you require additional direction, please call Barnhill Contracting Company, (Clint Hardison – 252-802-0740).

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  • Dr Lynn Duffy

    So for the $ the small town with a family atmosphere would yield to the $ alcohol may bring? Don’t think as a counselor, I want to take my family to a town that encourages open container and open air alcohol drinking. There is a reason for pubs, taverns and controlled events. If this town enables this, think our family and friends will go elsewhere. We don’t want our children exposed to this.

    Friday, Feb 17 @ 11:55 pm
  • one for the road

    Let’s make “one for the road” legal

    Saturday, Feb 18 @ 7:30 am
  • Another mom

    Please honor and promote the OBX as a “family first” destination. A family atmosphere is what attracts vacationers to the OBX. Most families would be agreeable to the occasional sip and stroll event after 9 pm, but not all day and every day.

    Saturday, Feb 18 @ 10:38 am
  • The Captain

    I’ve read some of the comments thus far. One thing stands out that the Owner of the Wine Store is all about increasing business. Don’t let him fool you about Social Connection and Coming into a new age or progress. The Wine store is small and the few other establishments selling alcohol are small or limited to Restaurant consumption. The Bar Trade in Manteo is low. I say put it up to a Town Vote. Don’t be swayed by Vacationers and non Residents.

    Sunday, Feb 19 @ 7:43 am