Barry Saunders

Sorry, Durham, no early Sunday drinking for you – yet

Guests enjoy brunch at Beasley’s Chicken + Honey in downtown Raleigh in March. They can drink alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sundays now. But residents can’t – at least not yet.
Guests enjoy brunch at Beasley’s Chicken + Honey in downtown Raleigh in March. They can drink alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sundays now. But residents can’t – at least not yet. newsobserver.com

Kris Kristofferson, the second-greatest songwriter alive – after Smokey – wrote:

Well, I woke up Sunday morning with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt.

And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad, so I had one more for dessert.

We know one thing for sure: He wasn’t in a Durham restaurant when he had that Sunday morning beer for dessert.

While restaurateurs in Raleigh and Carrboro sing “Happy Days Are Here Again” to the accompaniment of ringing cash registers Sunday, their Durham counterparts and visitors boo-hoo to “How Dry I Am.”

The new “brunch bill” – Senate Bill 155 that Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law last month – turned on the booze spigot. Restaurants in municipalities that approve can serve alcoholic beverages beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays, as opposed to the noon starting time that existed before the bill was signed.

With agility and alacrity that would make Olympic gymnast Simone Biles envious, Raleigh and Carrboro officials passed ordinances allowing brunchers to wash down their omelets with an Ohrangarita, their pancakes with a pilsner or Pisano, their bacon-wrapped salmon with a Bacardi. Not only that, you can also go to the grocery store and buy wine and beer before noon!

Is this a great country or what?

Not, apparently, in Durham.

Anxious to figure out why the Bull City, usually at the forefront of social progressivism, is lagging in the right to get buzzed at brunch, I called City Attorney Patrick Baker.

Baker was out last week, but senior city attorney Don O’Toole explained why, for now, Durham has been left off the Sunday morning booze bandwagon.

“The bill just passed,” he explained, “and the city council would have to vote on it” before it could go into effect.

“The city council does not meet in July,” he said. “The next meeting isn’t until Aug. 7.”

The council has a work session scheduled for July 27, and I’ll bet you a PBR to a Heineken that Sunday morning drankin’ will be on the agenda.

Was any thought given, I asked O’Toole, to holding a special council session so we alone wouldn’t be left up the creek without a cocktail?

O’Toole said he didn’t know. Carrboro’s board of aldermen, though, seized the champagne flute by the throat and immediately called a special session, even though two members were out of town and the police chief had to fill in as acting town manager.

Now, that’s a town board that knows what’s important.

Don’t weep in our beer, Argentina. We Durhamites will be fine, though.

How do I know?

Dig this: One of the most embarrassing moments of my many failed runs for political office occurred when I ran for president of the student government in college. During those Victorian times, open dorms – the period during which you could have a member of the opposite sex visiting in your dorm room – lasted until 10 p.m.

I stood onstage and loftily proclaimed, “If elected, I promise to make it so you can stay in Sweet Thang’s room until midnight.”

Someone yelled out from the audience, “We already do that.”

I was, of course, hooted off the stage and ended up finishing third. The only reason I didn’t finish fourth is that there were only three of us running.

While some may bemoan Durham residents’ inability to drink breakfast before noon on Sundays, those who know what’s up and where to sup – where, for instance, to get a pig’s foot and a bottle of beer at 5 a.m. – will certainly shout “We already do that.”

When the city council meets next month and votes on it, we’ll even be able to do it legally. First person I’m calling?

Kris Kristofferson. Can you think of anything cooler than sharing a pig’s foot and a bottle of beer with that dude?

Barry Saunders: 919-836-2811, @BarrySaunders9

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