Local Politics

Raleigh OKs Sunday morning alcohol sales

The City Council voted Wednesday to allow Sunday morning alcohol sales in Raleigh, starting this weekend.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The City Council voted Wednesday to allow Sunday morning alcohol sales in Raleigh, starting this weekend.
Raleigh is at least the second North Carolina municipality to approve restaurants and hotels to sell mixed drinks and stores to sell beer and wine as early as 10 a.m. Sundays after state legislation allowing local decisions on the issue was signed into law last Friday. The Carrboro Town Council voted in favor of the move on Monday.

Councilman Dickie Thompson was the lone vote against Raleigh's switch from sales starting at noon on Sundays to 10 a.m. He said society is rapidly becoming more secular and that Sunday should be kept separate from the rest of the week.

Otherwise, there was no debate on the issue.

The unexpected vote – the issue wasn't even on the council's agenda Wednesday – was good news for the city's booming hospitality industry. Hotel and restaurant owners have been lobbying hard for the law's passage.

Joel Fuller, general manager at the downtown Marriott, said Sunday morning brunch is always busy, with both locals and travelers lining up. It gets old, he said, having to explain to people why they can't have a Bloody Mary or a mimosa until noon.

"Obviously, we have a lot of people that travel from outside of the state, so they don't understand the 'brunch bill' or our timing on a Sunday. They'll be very happy," Fuller said.

Logan Beam, manager of bu·ku, on Davie Street in downtown Raleigh, said customers have been asking about drinks at brunch ever since state lawmakers began debating the issue a few months ago.

"Last Sunday, especially, everyone was asking if we had any idea when Raleigh was going to jump on board, and I just said, 'We're waiting for it to happen,'" Beam said.

The change could mean an earlier start for bu·ku's Sunday morning crowds, she said.

"I think it'll bring more people out for brunch at the earlier times because, as of now, kind of before 12, it's a little slower," she said. "So, we're expecting it to really increase our volume and our sales."

Wednesday's vote affects only businesses within Raleigh's city limits. The other 11 municipalities in Wake County will have to hold their own votes on the issue, as well the county Board of Commissioners for unincorporated areas.

The so-called "brunch bill" also includes provisions to benefit craft brewers, vintners and distilleries across North Carolina, from allowing free tastings at festivals to auctioning high-end wines to raising the limit on the number of bottles distillers can sell visitors from one to five per year.


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