What You Need to Know About Raleigh’s Social District

ICYMI, Raleigh is getting its first social district (!). And Raleigh is super thrilled about it—a game-changer for the area and just the first step in making Fayetteville Street more attractive to bars, restaurants and consumers, and bringing more foot traffic to the area. The pilot program gives the city a chance to gather feedback and assess what is and isn’t working—and could lead to additional social districts throughout the city. But beyond all the brouhaha are a slew of lingering questions about the rules, what areas are included in the district, etc., so we talked to Raleigh City Council Member Jonathan Melton to get to the bottom of it all. Read on for what you need to know. Then, we’ll see you on the streets—designated to-go cup in hand, natch—starting Aug. 15! 

What is a social district?

Specified areas where “people just walk around with a glass of wine or a beer, going into a store, sitting on a bench, etc.,” says Melton.

Where will Raleigh’s first social district be?

Fayetteville Street District—specifically Fayetteville Street from Capitol Building to Duke Energy Center, including Red Hat Amphitheater and City Market (borders = South, Blount, Morgan, Dawson), plus Warehouse District from Dawson to Union Station. 

Fayetteville street social district

What are the rules?

  • The social district will be effective Aug. 15, seven days a week, from the hours of 11am–10pm. 
  • You will only be able to carry a max 16 oz. designated cup (you cannot carry around a cup from home).
  • No glass is allowed. 

What’s included?

Several bars and restaurants are included in the designated social district, as well as Red Hat Amphitheater and Duke Energy Center. “An idea for the social district is that folks could go to dinner before a show, get a drink to go, and then walk down to the venue and finish the beverage before entering inside,” says Melton.

Why aren’t parks included?

Moore Square and Nash Square are NOT included in the social district at this time, based on city staff’s recommendation, says Melton. “I think they preferred we take an incremental approach to the social district and avoid areas that might be conducive to folks trying to bring their own alcohol into the social district, which isn’t allowed under the state law,” he expands.  “Moore Square also already has its own ABC permit associated with the Square Burger on site. It’s a pilot program though, so we will continue to gather feedback and examine the boundaries over the next few months.” According to Melton, the city would have to construct a barrier to separate Square Burger from the rest of the park due to social district rules and the permit.

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About the Author

Angela Brown
Angela Brown is the author of our Business & Economy section.