By Jesse Wood
A new law passed in the N.C. General Assembly and signed by Gov. Roy Cooper gives authority to local governments on whether or not to allow the purchase of alcohol at restaurants and retailers at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
Prior to Senate Bill 155 going into effect last week, you couldn’t drink a mimosa at a restaurant or buy a 12-pack at the grocery store in the state prior to noon on Sunday.
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.
This matter will likely be on the upcoming agendas of the local town councils over the next couple months, and it might depend on whether or not local establishments or individuals reach out to their elected representatives or town officials
“Nobody has contacted me, and I don’t know if anybody has contacted any of the governing body or not. To our knowledge there is nobody waiting in the wings to take advantage of this,” Blowing Rock Town Manager Ed Evans said on Wednesday. “Maybe they haven’t come forward. I don’t know if [the Blowing Rock Town Council] will make a decision before somebody inquires or not.”
Over in Avery County, Banner Elk Town Manager Rick Owen said that this matter will be on the Banner Elk Town Council’s agenda for its regularly scheduled meeting next Monday.
“We have been contacted by the Chamber of Commerce and asked to consider adopting an ordinance to allow for the earlier hours,” Owen said in an email on Thursday.
Boone town staff will inform the Boone Town Council of the new law at their next meeting in late July and the Beech Mountain Town Council will consider the bill if business owners advocate for it, according to the Watauga Democrat.
Peabody’s Wine and Beer Merchants, currently opens at noon on Sundays but 9 a.m. on the other days of the week. Jeff Collins, co-owner of the retailer, stated that he would certainly bring it up to council members if they don’t take any action.
“All the other towns are going to do it. If the town doesn’t adopt that rule, it will just be another step toward not letting us compete with regional businesses,” Collins said.
John Pepper, general manager of Pepper’s Restaurant and a co-founder of Boone Independent Restaurants, a nonprofit formed to help independent restaurants compete with national chains, said that the “brunch bill,” as it’s known, won’t affect the bottom line much because it’s only an extra hour with Pepper’s opening at 11 a.m.
“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal – not enough to make a meaningful impact to our business … I know Boone Saloon stands to gain from it and some of the other places that have more of a booze-y brunch,” Pepper said. “Either way, it’s long over due.”