By Jesse Wood
The Boone Town Council passed the “brunch bill” last Thursday and local establishments began serving up mimosas and bloody Marys on Sunday morning. Now, all of the municipalities in Watauga County have approved the bill.
Council approved the measure in a 4-0 vote – with Councilwoman Lynn Mason recusing herself as a co-owner of Lost Province Brewery. As Boone’s Town Manager John Ward said, the only reason the council didn’t address the issue earlier was because it hadn’t had the opportunity to meet since the N.C. legislature amended its laws last month.
At the end of June, Gov. Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 155 into law. The new law states that counties and towns “may adopt an ordinance allowing for the sale of malt beverages, unfortified wine, fortified wine and mixed beverages” by ABC permit holders beginning at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
Previously, you couldn’t drink alcohol in establishments or purchase alcohol from a retailer before noon on Sunday. Now – assuming the local government has amended their laws – you can buy alcohol as early as 10 a.m. on Sunday in a town’s limits.
Last Thursday, Boone Saloon owner Skip Sinanian encouraged the council to pass the bill and Boone Chamber of Commerce President David Jackson penned a letter in support of the measure.
Sinanian said that previously the Boone Saloon opened at noon on Sundays and avoided any discrepancy with state alcohol laws on Sunday. If the council changed the law – as it did later in the council meeting – Sinanian said Boone Saloon would “definitely” open at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
“I think it would really help us out,” Sinanian told the council.
When the law passed, The Local on Howard Street messaged that now the “bartender won’t be swamped” with noon alcohol orders any longer. “We can get behind that for sure,” The Local’s Facebook post read, which included a smiley-face emoji.
In Avery County and with support from the Banner Elk Chamber, the Banner Elk Town Council was the first to pass the bill in the High Country – likely because it was one of the first local town councils to meet after the N.C. legislature gave local government’s authority to begin serving and selling alcohol earlier on Sundays.
Banner Elk Cafe, for example, sold plenty of bloody Marys on Sunday morning. Les Broussard, owner of Banner Elk Cafe, said the hours wouldn’t change in light of new law because his establishment already opens at 7 a.m. on Sunday. Although he wasn’t sure how many of his customers knew about the change in the law, he said the restaurant sold “lots” bloody Marys yesterday.
Sugar Mountain Council adopted the ordinance on July 18, and Seven Devils and Beech Mountain, which span Watauga and Avery counties, also adopted the bill earlier this month.
The Newland Town Council has yet to address this brunch bill, according to a staff member at town hall. It’s unclear if Newland will explore the brunch bill at its August meeting. Just a couple years ago, Newland faced the prospects of losing alcohol sales, which it acquired in 2009, all together, but residents voted to retain the sale of beer and wine by a 70 percent margin.