Marion City Council to consider ‘brunch bill’ ordinance

The so-called “brunch bill” will come before the Marion City Council on Tuesday. And local officials are saying that there is a considerable interest among restaurants and stores for the sale of alcoholic beverages before noon on Sundays.

At Tuesday’s regular meeting, the City Council will consider allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages before noon on Sundays. That applies to restaurants, bars and retail stores.

The council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the City Hall.

Last month, Gov. Roy Cooper signed what was known as the “brunch bill” into law. This new law makes it legal for bars, restaurants and retail stores to sell alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sundays, two hours earlier than previously allowed. But each county and city government in the state has to decide if they want early alcohol sales in their communities and local ordinances may be changed too.

Since Cooper’s signing, numerous cities, counties and towns across North Carolina have approved ordinances allowing for this change. They include the nearby cities of Asheville, Black Mountain, Banner Elk, Boone, Blowing Rock, Charlotte, Hendersonville, Morganton, Newton, Statesville and Lenoir among numerous other local governments in North Carolina, according to the website www.ncbrunchbill.com.

The Morganton City Council voted 3-1 to approve their ordinance on Monday, Aug. 7. Mecklenburg County adopted its ordinance and Buncombe County is scheduled to hold a second vote on the matter, where it is expected to pass.

The city of Marion allows for alcohol sales at retail stores and the serving of beer, wine and mixed drinks at bars and restaurants. But Marion officials said last month they would take a “wait and see” approach before approving any new ordinances to allow for alcohol sales starting at 10 a.m. on Sundays.

On Friday, City Manager Bob Boyette said 80 cities and counties, including many in western North Carolina, have adopted the “brunch bill” ordinance with approximately 36 more cities and counties considering such ordinances in the next month. He said these numbers were according to the website for the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association.

“I have worked with Chamber Executive Director Steve Bush and determined that there are 43 active ABC permits in the city of Marion,” said Boyette. “Steve Bush has contacted restaurants and determined considerable interest in allowing sales before noon on Sunday.”

Officials with the McDowell Chamber of Commerce have determined that almost all of the retail, grocery and convenience stores with ABC permits are open on Sundays and will also take advantage of the additional sales hours, according to Boyette.

Of the 43 active ABC permits in Marion, they are broken down into 17 convenience stores, 13 restaurants, seven retail stores, four grocery stores, one meadery and one tap room, according to the chamber.

“We feel that the local convenient stores, retail stores, and grocery stores will follow suit with the city’s decision, if approved, for the sale of alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sundays,” said Bush. “We contacted the 13 restaurants and found that, if passed, the general consensus would be to take advantage of the ordinance change as needed. Most restaurants feel that a two-hour change will not make that big of a difference but feel that maybe a brunch special might be a good menu enhancement.”

“Given the strong demand and interest for sales before noon on Sunday and the fact that many cities and counties in the region have adopted brunch bill ordinances, an ordinance will be presented to City Council on Tuesday to consider allowing sales before noon on Sunday,” he added.