This week marks the tenth anniversary of legal alcohol sales in the City of Cullman. On November 2nd, 2010, Cullman voters went to the polls to determine if they wanted the City of Cullman to sell alcohol legally. Fifty-two percent of the ballots cast favored legalizing the sale of alcohol by a difference of 234 votes.
Local convenience stores and restaurants throughout the City of Cullman immediately started applying for their liquor license with the Alabama ABC Board. On February 15th, 2011, the Catoma Mart on Highway 157 was the first to receive their liquor license and legally sell alcohol. Customers were lined throughout the store to get their hands on a case of beer. Alcohol drinkers were excited to purchase their beverages in Cullman instead of traveling to nearby cities such as Decatur and Warrior.
Fast forward ten years, the City of Cullman has grown tremendously, especially in the food industry. Chain restaurants such as Applebee’s and Logan’s and several local restaurants started popping up throughout the city. Cullman now has multiple local options also such as 412 Public House, Dreher’s, Grumpy’s, Carlton’s, and the Downtown Grill for your drinking pleasure. In recent years, restaurant sales have increased roughly twenty percent, leading to revenue growth for the City of Cullman.
The legalization of alcohol sales in Cullman certainly sparked growth. Growth in any community also means an increase in crime. Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper said, “the City of Cullman has grown tremendously over the last ten years, and with growth, you can expect the call volume with the police department to rise, but we have not seen any increase in crime numbers that are directly contributed to the sale of alcohol.”
Stephen Gannon, co-owner of 412 Public House, is among those who credit the sale of alcohol for a large portion of their business success. “The opportunity to open a true ‘gastropub’ type restaurant and bar with my partners in Cullman would never have been possible without the ability to sell beers, wines, and premium cocktails,” said Gannon. “Our bar is in fact the centerpiece of our dining room and provides a wonderful draw to everyone visiting our little corner of Cullman. The change in the city laws to allow alcohol sales has truly enabled us and others to substantially enhance the restaurant scene for patrons from all over the area.”
One figure that shows recent progress in Cullman City is an ever-growing annual budget. Over the last 7 years, the Cullman City budget has increased from 28.4 million dollars in 2015 to 93.4 million in 2021, an increase of more than 70%. For comparison, the neighboring city of Hartselle who just recently legalized the sale of alcohol, has a budget of 13.3 million annually.