Voters in Hall and many of its cities will have brunch on the ballot Nov. 6.
A state law, signed by Gov. Nathan Deal in May, gives cities and counties the option to allow restaurants to start selling alcohol at 11 a.m. Sundays, as long as local voters approve the change by a popular vote.
Hall County, along with the cities of Gainesville, Flowery Branch, Oakwood and Braselton, will have the referendum on ballots Nov. 6, the same day as the general election.
The bill, also known as the “brunch bill,” does not apply to grocery stores. Previous state law only allows restaurants to start serving alcohol at 12:30 p.m. Sundays.
Tina Roberts, co-owner of 2 Dog in downtown Gainesville, said moving alcohol sales earlier on Sundays could help her restaurant manage crowds.
“It will help the crowds equalize and we won’t have such a boost at one time. ... People can start coming in a little earlier,” Roberts said.
Taylor Sippy of Gainesville, having brunch at Avocados on the Gainesville square Sept. 30, said he usually arrives at brunch when Avocados starts serving at 11 a.m., so he would be in support of having alcohol available earlier on Sundays.
“I usually try to start my brunch around 11 anyways. ... It’s always good to have a mimosa, start your meal off,” he said.
And his brother, Lucas Sippy, agreed. He said someone who gets to brunch earlier would have to wait a while before ordering a drink, but after they eat, they might be ready to leave and may not even want that mimosa.
“Since they start brunch at 11 here, why not start the drinks if you want to have it? ... It makes sense to have that start at the same time that brunch starts, rather than to wait an hour and a half,” he said.
Alicia Webb, general manager of Avocados, said the restaurant goes through about six cases of champagne a week, and at least three to five of those are used for Sunday brunch. Passage of the referendum would definitely boost sales for the restaurant, she said.
Avocados brings in a bartender just to serve mimosas and bloody marys. He comes in at noon to start setting up, starts pouring drinks at 12:30 and leaves when brunch wraps up around 2 p.m.
“It is that busy. We bring him in just to make sure that our other customers don’t suffer because the servers are trying to get drinks ready, so we bring him in just for that,” Webb said.
Roberts said 2 Dog also has a bartender for Sunday brunch who stays during the whole brunch shift from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to work the register.
Regina Cochran of Gainesville, eating Sept. 30 at Avocados, said she was not entirely opposed to bumping up alcohol sales on Sundays, but it would be an adjustment.
“It’s a little harder for those of us who have grown up accustomed to alcohol not being sold until after church, but I think it would be very good for tourism,” Cochran said.
The ballot question will read: “Shall the governing authority of (name of municipality or county) be authorized to permit and regulate Sunday sales of distilled spirits or alcoholic beverages for beverage purposes by the drink from 11:00 A.M. to 12:30 P.M.?”
A “yes” vote would indicate approval of earlier Sunday sales.
Early voting begins Oct. 15. Tuesday, Oct. 9, is the deadline to register in time to vote Nov. 6.