Happy Hour Advertising | Ralph Northam, John Bell

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and Del. John Bell (D-87th) greet each other in Herndon in June.

Virginia restaurants have long been prohibited from promoting happy hour specials as “Margarita Mondays” or “Wine Wednesdays.”

But beginning July 1, business owners will be able to test their creativity by advertising happy hours and drink specials after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed new legislation into law Monday. 

The ceremonial signing took place at Tatva Indian Cuisine in Herndon. Proponents of the new law say it will improve Virginia restaurant revenue  and shows support for small businesses. The signing amends Virginia Code 4.1-111 relating to Alcoholic Beverage Control.

“This is really going to be a game changer for us,” Tatva Indian Cuisine Co-Owner Sujith Maram said. “I believe it’s going to drive the business more and ultimately revenue for us.”

In January, Del. John Bell (D-87th) introduced House Bill 2073, which ultimately passed with a 90-4 vote. In the Senate, Sen. Ryan McDougle (R-4th) from the Mechanicsville area introduced a similar bill, which passed 37-3 the following month.

The bills will allow restaurants to advertise the prices of featured alcoholic beverages provided such techniques don't tend to induce over-consumption or consumption by minors.

“I think this is an example of where we can hear from businesses, get feedback, then go be responsive and make things better,” Bell said. “The best pieces of legislation I’ve been able to carry, and I think my colleagues would back me up, are when people come to us and say, ‘This is not working for me, what can we do to make this better?’ And this is an example of that.”

Happy Hour Advertising | Ralph Northam, John Bell, Ryan McDougle

From left, Del. John Bell (D-87th), Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and Sen. Ryan McDougle (R-4th) celebrate after Northam signed legislation lifting Virginia’s happy hour advertising restrictions.

With the restrictions being lifted, the impact is expected to be felt throughout the state and Loudoun County.

Loudoun Chamber Vice President of Membership and Government Affairs Grafton DeButts said in a prepared statement, “The removal of this long-time restrictive regulation against our local restaurant industry will be have huge implications. In no other industry is a top revenue generating promotion restricted from actually being shared publicly. This will lead to more open competition in the marketplace and the winners will be all of Loudoun’s residents that regularly patron our restaurants.”

Sterling-based Twinpanzee Brewing Company Chief Financial Officer Maha Majdoub, who has co-owned the brewery along with her husband since 2013, said at the ceremonial signing she is looking forward to rolling out new promotions starting next week.

“This allows us to be creative and put fun things out there to our customers," Majdoub said.

Ford Fish Shack restaurant owner Tony Stafford, who owns three locations in Loudoun County, said he is extremely happy with the new law.

Northam credited voters for bringing the idea to lawmakers, similar to how the smoking ban, which he pushed for in 2009, became law after Virginians raised health concerns.

“These ideas came from people -- and in this case restaurant owners -- and they just made the point to the legislators that it is important to be able to advertise their product and to do in a responsible way,” Northam said. “I think their message was heard … and this is the way Virginia moves forward.”

Happy Hour Advertising | Ralph Northam in Herndon

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is surrounded by lawmakers, business owners and local leaders after signing legislation aimed at transforming Virginia’s happy hour advertising restrictions.

(18) comments


Glad to see this advertising change! Thank the Republicans. And I don't like Northam at all, but I have to give credit that he didn't block this one. This ridiculous Puritanical law has been in effect way too long. whew!


Where does Guv Northam stand on post-birth abortion?

More Cowbell

Now if they'd only have a bill against texting and driving.....


The Governor says, let the liquor flow so we all forget about his racist history and refusal to step down.


Ralph Northam is a racist. Why has he not been removed from office?


Because hes a Democrat.


I don't care if he is a Grand Wizard of the KKK, You people knew or should have known when you elected him. He's a jerk, get over it, and be more careful on who you vote for next time. Be thankful the VA Constitution limits these yokels to one term.


Democrats are so wonderful...first Herring wants to legalize pot and now the klansman governor wants to push alcohol down the throats of Virginians...gambling magic mushrooms and tent cities coming to VA soon...


It passed the Republican controlled House 90-4 and the Republican controlled Senate, where the bill was introduced by a Republican, 37-3.

Chris McHale

L4T - The issue has always been a matter of free speech. I'm glad everyone involve finally woke up and honored the Constitution/Bill of Rights.


you have this all wrong - the change is to reduce gov't interference where it doesn't belong


Maybe it is just me, but I never seem to know/hear of a visit by high ranking officials (IE - Sens.,Gov. etc.) until they have left. Are their visits not publicized in advance or do I just miss them??

Chris McHale

Who doesn't know that Passion Fish in Reston and The Oyster Bar in Leesburg have great happy hours on Sunday, or the Velocity Wings in Sterling has a great happy hour with 1/2 price burgers on Monday, or the Bar Louie at One Loudoun has a great happy hour with half price burgers on Tuesday, or that Burtons in Sterling has 1/2 price bottles of Wine happy hour on Wednesdays, or that Match Box in One Loudoun has a great happy hour on Thursdays. Not sure what's going on on Friday and Saturday as I'm usually tired and there are too many drunks out there


Thanks! Didn't know about all those specials! But you are sooooo right about Fri and the drunks!


Mr. Censor;n When you take down a post nand put it back. PUT IT BACK WHERE IT WAS WHEN IT WAS POSTED. Half the time your placement changes the whole meaning of the post, the other half gives the impression you do not know how to perform then duties of chief censor.


Half the time my comments aren't even posted, and I'm a lot nicer than you!


I bet he has a bottle in his drawer, too.

David Dickinson

Virginia is for Drunks

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