The New North Carolina “Brunch Bill”

At the end of June of this year, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed a new law allowing alcohol to be sold on Sunday mornings. The so called "brunch bill" (Senate Bill 155) allows restaurants and retail establishments to begin selling alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sundays instead of noon. Local governments can now decide to adjust Sunday restaurant hours to earlier if they so choose. 

According to Lynn Minges, president and CEO of the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association, "The passage of S.B. 155 will help restaurants to better meet the needs of their guests, particularly where tourism drives businesses or where local residents demand more choices. In cities and counties that elect this option, restaurants will be able to meet customer demands, grow their businesses, create jobs, increase tax revenue, and bring patrons into business districts earlier in the day."

Senate Bill 155 also allows people who tour distilleries to buy up to 5 bottles per year instead of the current regulation of 1 bottle per year. The new bill also permits distillers to offer 1/4-ounce samples at events and festivals. In all likelihood, these new provisions will increase the state's already fast-growing distillery business and substantially increase on-site customers. Distillers are eager to expand their hours in tasting rooms and gift shops, helping them market their products to increase sales at state-run ABC stores. 

Although the bill initially faced opposition from conservative groups like the Christian Action League, this piece of legislation received substantial bipartisan support. Republican Sen. Rick Gunn of Alamance and Randolph counties is one of the bill's authors and says it's "good policy" that will help North Carolina's tourism and hospitality industry. "We've got some entrepreneurs that are doing these distilleries and doing craft brewing and it is a very rapidly growing industry," Gunn said. "And anything we can do legislatively and still keep control with the ABC commission but we can help move their needle up a little bit so that they can grow their companies and create jobs and tax base is something I believe we are all for in North Carolina."

Local governments have quickly allowed Sunday morning alcohol sales following the legislature's passage of the bill last month. Charlotte City Council unanimously approved the expansion of alcohol sales on July 24th, with the change going into effect the following Sunday. Charlotte City Council member Kenny Smith called it, "brunch freedom." Local restaurants immediately adjusted their Sunday hours once the bill passed. Brian Bruce, executive chef at Killington's Restaurant and Pub in Huntersville, North Carolina, just outside of Charlotte, said that, "overall, it seems like a long time coming."

Take advantage of S.B. 155 by heading out early for a relaxing Sunday brunch. Enjoy a glass of champagne or a bloody mary at a local eatery, or head to your favorite distillery to stock up. If you are going to enjoy an adult beverage, do so safely and designate a driver to bring you home. If you overindulge, call Uber for a safe ride home. As a AAA member, you receive $20 off your first ride. 

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