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Free the mimosa: Restaurant industry pushing Sunday morning liquor bill

Posted May 2
Updated June 28

— North Carolina's restaurant industry is launching a major push to move legislation that would change Sunday alcohol laws.

Using the hashtag #FreeTheMimosa, the state Restaurant and Lodging Association wants to uncork Senate Bill 155, which has been bottled up in committee for more than a month.

Among its provisions, the measure, which has been dubbed the "Brunch Bill" by supporters, would give cities and counties the option of allowing local restaurants to begin serving alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sundays. State law currently prohibits any alcohol sales before noon on Sundays.

"The reality is we live in an age where people drink alcohol, and there’s no logical reason not to serve it earlier if consumers are demanding it," said Lynn Minges, president and chief executive, of the group, which represents 18,000 restaurants statewide.

Minges said those extra two hours of alcohol sales each week could mean about $25,000 in additional revenue for the average restaurant, based on the impact of changes to similar laws in other states.

"That’s dollars that translates to tax revenue for state and local government as well as jobs for people who make a living in this industry," she said. "I really can’t imagine why anyone is against it."

Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, said wider accessibility to alcohol will create problems as well as revenue.

"There are plenty of studies that reveal, if you roll back prohibition on alcohol sales on Sunday as much as just two hours, it does cause a spike in dangerous consumption rates and alcohol-related problems," Creech said.

"All of this I see as a tacit disrespect for churches," he said. "Churches work very hard to minister to people whose lives are harmed by and ruined by alcohol abuse. There’s something disrespectful about that [changing the law]. It’s indicative of our times, but it’s still not right."

The Station restaurant on Person Street in Raleigh advertises $4 Bloody Marys and mimosas on Sundays, but general manager Steve Chiarello, has to advise customers that the drinks aren't available before noon. If the law changes, he says, the restaurant might open earlier than 11 a.m.

"I think it would be much more profitable for us," Chiarello said. "I think it will increase business greatly."

Many customers said they are ready for the change.

"If I wanted a drink early on Sunday, I would think I could go in and order it, (and) they’d bring it out without question," said K’Charias Drewery, who is from Tampa, Fla., and was visiting relatives in Raleigh.

"I think it's probably about time," customer Lee Ratcliffe said.

Because alcohol sales generate revenue for the state, Senate Bill 155 isn't subject to the legislature's "crossover" deadline that killed off scores of bills last week.

Creech said he also worries about other provisions in the bill, including allowing free liquor tastings at state Alcoholic Beverage Control stores. Another provision would let distilleries to sell five bottles of alcohol directly to each person who takes a tour every year rather than going through an ABC store. Currently, that limit is one bottle per person.

5 Comments

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  • John Branch May 3, 9:39 a.m.
    user avatar

    I am perfectly fine with people believing whatever they want to believe in regards to their religion. However, when it infringes on me as a nonbeliever, its taking things way too far. If you don't want to drink alcohol at certain times, more power to you. But why infringe on the times I drink?

  • Nathaniel Lincoln May 3, 7:14 a.m.
    user avatar

    Wow these comments are pretty extreme and hateful over something so minor as early morning drinking 1 day a week. I'm not opposed to this law being changed but also not losing sleep over it. Wouldn't call the state hateful or smear the clergy over it either. There's plenty of other states that are more liberal (and crime ridden) for you to go live in if you hate NC so much. Don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you.

  • Donna Gale May 2, 10:42 p.m.
    user avatar

    NC is so backwards compared to other states. No doesn't mean no, now this. Now the churches will try to put a stop to it. They should be more concerned with no doesn't mean no law. Brunch isn't brunch if you can't have a mimosa at 11:00 am.

  • Victor Cruz-Saez May 2, 8:28 p.m.
    user avatar

    Because we all know just how well prohibition has worked.

  • Dan Ratka May 2, 8:10 p.m.
    user avatar

    Rev. Creech says access to alcohol on Sunday will create problems as well as revenue. Come on. Tell the truth. The only revenue he is worried about is the revenue that may not go in his pocket on Sunday because the state may allow people to drink in restaurants a little earlier. Why is it any different for any non-christian holy day.