RALEIGH — A bill sponsored by a Richmond County lawmaker to allow restaurants to use outdoor grills has passed the state Senate and House.
The legislation — Senate Bill 24 — by Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, will allow licensed establishments to grill food outside without the expense of adding an indoor grill.
McInnis said the change should help businesses.
“I am very pleased that the General Assembly has removed another unnecessary regulation from small businesses with the passing of SB 24, outdoor grilling,” McInnis said in a statement. “This bill will allow small and large licensed food establishments to grill food on an outdoor grill which will increase traffic and profits.”
Under the bill, grills have to be stainless steel, on a concrete foundation, cleaned daily and supervised. Food preparation has to meet all sanitation requirements.
Supporters hope Gov. Roy Cooper will sign the legislation before Memorial Day.
“I look forward to this bill’s being signed into law by the governor and enjoying great steaks and ribs cooked on an outdoor grill just like we cook in our backyard,” McInnis said.
The second-term Senator told the Daily Journal in February that there are many mom and pop restaurants in rural North Carolina that can’t afford pricey fire-suppressant systems which could benefit from this legislation.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services regulations currently permit beverages to be prepared outdoors and allow outdoor cooking for temporary establishments.
While state regulations currently do not specifically prohibit outdoor grilling, he pointed out that its not permitted, either, adding that his bill brings clarity, especially when dealing with local health departments.
McInnis said at least one restaurant, Lefler’s Place in Montgomery County, has been grandfathered in because it started cooking outdoors before there were prohibitive regulations.
When the House unanimously approved the bill last week, House Speaker Tim Moore called it a “pro-jobs restaurant reform” measure.
“Republican reforms are getting government out of the way of business so North Carolina’s economy can thrive,” Moore said in a statement.
The N.C. Restaurant & Lodging Association, agreed and said the law would be beneficial.
“It will allow the state’s restaurants and hotels to use outdoor grills to better serve their patrons, especially during the approaching summer months,” association president Lynn Minges said in a news release. “Our members, and in turn their customers, will benefit from the added flexibility to grow their services while lowering overhead costs.”