You can now order a mimosa in Raleigh before noon on Sunday.
The Raleigh City Council on Wednesday voted 7-1 to allow alcohol sales after 10 a.m. on Sundays, effective immediately. The move comes less than a week after Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law Senate Bill 155, known as the “Brunch Bill,” which allows alcohol to be sold in restaurants and stores before noon on Sundays if local governments approve.
Restaurant owners cheered the change, saying it could boost local business revenues, while critics said they feared Sunday-morning alcohol sales could interrupt hours traditionally reserved for quiet contemplation and religious worship.
Angie Holder, who owns The Remedy Diner on Hargett Street downtown, expects to see an immediate difference. Remedy, which is relocating later this year, opens at 11 a.m. every day. But on Sundays, she said, the crowds don’t show up until after noon.
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“You don’t want to sit there for an hour and not drink,” said Holder, 42. “I’m excited.”
City Councilman Dickie Thompson, who represents central Raleigh in District A, cast the lone vote against the change. The hours before noon Sunday are a “reverent time,” he said.
“It’s a moral thing for me,” Thompson said. “I’m not against alcohol sales. I just don’t feel like they should be during church hours on Sunday. I know we’re in a changing world. But some of those values, in my way of thinking, shouldn’t change.”
Wednesday’s vote was a relatively easy victory for Raleigh restaurant owners who had to adjust two years ago to stricter dining rules the City Council imposed to temper the downtown nightlife crowds. Facing pushback, the council loosened those rules last summer.
Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin described the change this week as a commonsense effort to help local businesses.
“Our service industry will benefit, workers will have the opportunity to earn more money, and people who want to have a mimosa with brunch can,” Baldwin said.
Raleigh is the second Triangle city to adapt to the new law. Carrboro leaders called a special meeting Monday to approve new rules allowing alcohol sales after 10 a.m. on Sundays. Chapel Hill and Durham leaders plan to act soon.
“It didn’t make sense for us to deny our restaurant owners the opportunity to realize what I think will be a real benefit over the summer,” said Damon Seils, Carrboro’s mayor pro tem.
Raleigh residents contacted Mayor Nancy McFarlane with a similar sense of urgency. The City Council’s agenda for Wednesday didn’t mention Sunday alcohol sales. Nonetheless, city staff drafted new rules that the council voted on shortly after the meeting started at 1 p.m.
“I think I got more inquiries about that than anything else on the agenda,” McFarlane said.
Joey Stansbury, a Raleigh resident who serves on the Dix Park Advisory Committee, said the issue deserved more study. The council didn’t hold a hearing or consider potential side effects of 10 a.m. alcohol sales, he noted.
The “feverish rush by local governments to get drinks on Sunday morning reeks of alcoholism,” Stansbury said.
Elizabeth Friend contributed to this report