RALEIGH — Sen. Tom McInnis’ office announced Wednesday afternoon that his “grill bill” was signed by Gov. Roy Cooper.
The new law allows licensed establishments to grill food outside without the expense of adding an indoor grill — something he said should bolster business.
“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, R-Richmond, 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 law, grills have to be stainless steel, on a concrete foundation, cleaned daily and supervised. Food preparation has to meet all sanitation requirements.
The bill passed unanimously in both chambers, clearing the state House 113-0 on May 11 and the Senate 46-0 May 18.
Earlier this week, McInnis and other supporters were hoping for Cooper’s approval before Memorial Day weekend.
“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 previously.
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.”
However, another bill that alter the state’s blue laws and allow the sale of alcoholic beverages before on noon on Sundays — as long as local governments approve — isn’t moving through as quickly.
State records show it has been stuck in the Senate finance committee since March 30, after spending nearly a month in the rules committee — which is joked as being the place bills go to die.
A Wilson Times editorial recently promoted that bill’s passage.
“Folks who believe Sunday mornings should be reserved for church and family could simply vote with their wallets and steer clear of boozy brunches,” the editorial reads. “Instead, many want to continue imposing their personal views on fellow North Carolinians and deny them the choice of ordering that morning mimosa.”