Some North Carolina residents support a bipartisan bill that would allow them to sip mimosas and Bloody Marys before noon on Sundays, changing one of North Carolina’s best-known “blue laws.”
“I don’t see a downside, I only see an upside to it,” said Bethany Temple, who lives in Raleigh and was dining at Big Ed’s downtown on Sunday morning. “Bloody Mary at 11:30 in the morning? I would totally take advantage of that.”
Under Senate Bill 155, shoppers still couldn’t buy beer and wine at grocery and convenience stores on Sunday mornings. But if the bill becomes law – and if counties and cities decide to allow the change within their boundaries – restaurants could begin serving alcoholic beverages at 10 a.m. rather than waiting until noon.
On Sunday, people waiting in line at Big Ed’s, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, The Flying Biscuit and other popular brunch restaurants in Raleigh said they’re generally in favor of the bill.
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Jessica Murphrey said she’s gone out to breakfast on Sundays with friends who wanted to order a mimosa but couldn’t because of the blue laws.
“It would get friends together, and they would be able to try different drinks,” Murphrey, who lives in Raleigh, said. “It would be a social thing. I don’t think it would cause anything negative.”
That’s not the only reason for changing the law that diners offered Sunday morning.
“Raleigh has a lot of options during the night, but not so much during the day, especially on Sundays,” said Snigdha Peddireddy, who also lives in Raleigh. “I support it.”
Some said they were indifferent, as long as those consuming alcohol drank responsibly.
“It comes down to the individual ... being responsible,” said Roger Hines, who lives in Garner. “What’s the difference between 12 and 11? Someone is responsible at 12 but not at 11? I think time frame shouldn’t matter.”
The bill, filed last week, is sponsored by Republican Sen. Rick Gunn of Burlington, Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, a Raleigh Democrat, and Republican Sen. Kathy Harrington of Gastonia.
The N.C. Restaurant & Lodging Association supports the proposal.
“This ‘brunch bill’ will allow our North Carolina restaurants and hotels to meet their guests’ needs,” president and CEO Lynn Minges said last week. “With 55 million visitors to our state every year, this bill will be good for tourism and hospitality.”
However, the Rev. Mark Creech, director of the conservative Christian Action League, said that adding hours restaurants can sell alcohol on Sundays would lead to an increase in alcohol-related car accidents and other public health issues.
“We certainly don’t need to be adding additional hours to the sales of liquor,” Creech said last week. “This bill is asking for more social harm.”
On Sunday, some of those in favor of the bill said it could benefit the state’s economy and enhance social gatherings.
“From a business perspective, I don’t see why restaurants shouldn’t be allowed to sell drinks in the morning,” said Jennifer Boyd, a Salisbury resident who was dining at the Flying Biscuit in Cameron Village on Sunday. “They should take advantage of that. It would certainly help their sales and the economy.”
However, others said the blue laws should remain.
“I’m not much of a drinker, but at the same time, it just really does not feel right before 12 o’clock on a Sunday to be engaging in drinking alcohol,” said Allandria Sorrell, a Raleigh resident who does not support the bill. Sorrell was dining at Beasley’s Chicken + Honey on Sunday. “Why not wait until after hours to engage? You have the rest of the day to engage in alcohol.”
The bill’s other provisions would loosen the regulations governing North Carolina’s burgeoning craft distillery industry. If the bill passes, distilleries could get a permit to offer free liquor tastings at street festivals, trade shows and other special events and could offer tastings at ABC stores. Local breweries and wineries currently offer tastings at special events.
The state’s statute banning Sunday morning alcohol sales stems from an effort to limit drinking during times when churches are in session. A Change.org petition started two years ago calling for the “antiquated” statute’s repeal has gathered nearly 3,000 signatures.
Colin Campbell contributed to this report.
Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; @madisoniszler