Lawsuit Dropped After Virginia Changes Happy Hour Advertising Laws

The owner of Chef Geoff's dropped a lawsuit challenging Virginia's rules banning creative marketing of happy hour deals

What to Know

  • Geoff Tracy, the owner of three Chef Geoff's restaurants, is dropped a lawsuit against Virginia ABC over happy hour advertisement laws.
  • Starting this summer, Virginia bars and restaurants can use creative marketing and advertise the prices of drink specials.

This summer, Virginia's happy hour advertisements can get a little spicier.

Bars and restaurants can use promotions like "Wine Down Wednesday" and advertise the prices of their drinks as long as it doesn't promote excessive or underage drinking under new rules that take effect July 1, 2019.

Previously, neither creative marketing techniques nor listing the prices of drink specials were allowed. Businesses could advertise only two phrases: happy hour or drink special. Customers would have to go inside to find out how much their beer, margarita or wine would cost.

The reform prompted a prominent D.C.-area restauranteur to drop a lawsuit challenging the old happy hour rules, the Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority said in a statement.

Geoff Tracy, who owns several restaurants including Chef Geoff's Tysons Corner, filed a suit saying the former restrictions on happy hour advertising violated his free-speech rights and hurt his business.

Now, he can advertise at his Virginia locations the same way he advertises in Maryland or D.C.

Virginia ABC was supportive of the changes, the statement said.

Other regulations around happy hours haven't changed: Two-for-one drink specials are still outlawed and happy hours aren't allowed after 9 p.m.

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