Local Municipalities Eye Changes To Allow Earlier Sunday Alcohol Sales

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Jul 6, 2017
Local restaurants could see early alcohol sales on Sunday, as local municipalities look into changing ordinances to align with the state legislature’s Brunch Bill.
Local restaurants could be serving up cocktails and mimosas a little earlier on Sundays now that area municipalities are considering a change in ordinances to reflect the passing of Senate Bill 155.

The bill, known across the state as "the Brunch Bill,” was passed by the North Carolina legislature last week and signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper on June 30. Since then, the town of Carrboro became the first to allow alcohol sales at 10 a.m. Sundays. On Wednesday, the city of Raleigh and the town of Surf City joined in.

Previously, the earliest establishments could sell drinks was at noon on Sundays in the state.

According to Surf City Town Manager Larry Bergman, the Town Council unanimously approved an ordinance amendment at its regular meeting Wednesday night to allow early alcohol sales on Sundays.

Katherine Goldfaden, of LM Restaurants Inc., said the hospitality management group, which has locations across the state and in Wilmington, has been watching the bill very closely. Three LM locations within Raleigh city limits now have the ability to serve alcohol earlier on Sundays, she said.

“We are definitely excited and hoping Wilmington will be quick to follow suit,” Goldfaden said.

LM Restaurants Inc. manages Wilmington's Bluewater Waterfront Grill, Oceanic, Hops Supply Co. and Henry’s Restaurant and Bar.

“Henry’s, Hops Supply Co. and Oceanic have regular weekend brunch so clearly the brunch bill is in our favor, especially being in a tourist town. It’s just incremental revenue for us … and it catches us up to the 21st century,” Goldfaden said.

Locally, several other municipalities are considering a change in their ordinances to reflect the new law.

The Wrightsville Beach Board of Alderman will consider an ordinance to allow the sale of alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sundays at its next board meeting June 10, according to Wrightsville Beach Town Manager Tim Owens.

“A lot of coastal towns are picking up on it,” Owens said of the new law on Thursday.

If the ordinance is passed by the board, Wrightsville Beach-based Bluewater and Oceanic would be affected.

“We look forward to the passing of the brunch bill in Wrightsville Beach,” said Shang Skipper, director of operations for LM Restaurants’ coastal establishments, including Bluewater and Oceanic.

“This is a win-win not only for the restaurants but for our guests,” he added.

The town of Carolina Beach is set to discuss a change in its ordinance at the next council workshop scheduled for July 25, according to the town manager’s office. The public is invited to attend.

And while Wilmington City Council members have expressed interest in discussing the issue, city spokeswoman Malissa Talbert said no action has been taken yet on the new law.

“It would have to go through some level of staff scrutiny,” Talbert said of a potential ordinance change.

City staff and attorneys would have to look at the actual bill and how it would impact the current city ordinance regarding alcohol sales, she said. Council would then need to take action on any changes before the law would impact downtown business.

Talbert said that since Wilmington City Council agendas are already set for July, it's likely the city could not see any action on a potential ordinance change this month.

In New Hanover County, staff are reviewing a draft ordinance and plans to bring before county commissioners at a meeting in August, said Ruth Smith, chief communications officer for the county.
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