Proposal to ban cashless businesses in Atlanta put on hold

How do you like to pay? Do you use cash or card at a retailer or restaurant?

Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Lewis has been seeking to guarantee consumers will have a choice.

His colleagues on the finance committee took up the measure on Wednesday and urged caution.

"What I am struggling with is what happened at The Standard," said Councilman Antonio Lewis, referring to the murder of a bar employee by thieves going after cash.

John Henderson, a popular Grant Park bartender, was shot in the head and instantly killed during a robbery at the Standard Food and Spirits in January 2009. An alleged gang member would later be arrested.

A similar incident happened in 2017 at the Barcelona Wine Bar in West Midtown. There, police say, four men stormed in the business, all dressed in black hoodies, and forced the manager, 29-year-old Chelsea Beller, into the upstairs office, where they made her open the safe before they mercilessly shot her.

Another member of the council, Marci Collier Overstreet, says she has also heard from business owners who say the primary reason they went to a card only policy is for safety.

Lewis offered the other side. He noted that teenagers who do not have bank accounts are unable to easily shop at many locations where dollars are not accepted.

He also mentioned seniors who may have a preference to keep cash and not credit cards.

Amber A. Robinson, the deputy city attorney, advised all the members that it is the state, not the city that has the final say.

The council members following a 30-minute debate voted to hold the Lewis measure.