Purchasing beer and wine on Sunday in Lula may soon become a reality.
Thanks to a Hall County Board of Elections’ approval placing two referendums on the Nov. 3 ballot, the city’s residents will have the option of voting for sales of malt beverages and wine by the drink, as well as package sales of malt beverages and wine by retailers on Sundays between 12:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
The resolutions for the referendums were previously approved by the Lula City Council.
Lula Mayor Jim Grier said the main businesses that would be affected by this change are Lula Grocery and At The Tracks, both of which sell wine and beer and are open on Sundays.
“The intention was to give them extra help in being able to compete with other establishments outside the city,” he said. “We’re trying to help our businesses as much as we can. It has been something requested, and the council felt it was wise to let the city have this.”
Sunday Chaudhary, manager of Lula Grocery, said she approves of the referendums and encourages people to vote in favor of them. On many occasions, Chaudhary said she has been forced to turn customers away because of the beer and wine restrictions.
“Of course we really want to sell alcohol on Sunday because we have people come in, and we have to send them the other way,” she said. “We’re the only grocery store in Lula in the city limits.”
Kim Johnson, owner of At The Tracks, said she welcomes the opportunity to offer beer and wine on Sundays at her restaurant.
“We have a lot of people traveling through who see us on Google, and stop in on a Sunday,” she said. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, you can't sell alcohol, but Hall County can.’”
After examining her total sales from last year, Johnson said only 2.3% of the amount came from alcohol. If the two referendums pass, the restaurant owner said it won’t have a large effect on her business.
“We’re not begging to sell it, but if we’re allowed to, we will,” she said.
Several churches reside within the city’s limits, including Assembly of Praise on Carter Street. Adam Reynolds, the congregation’s pastor, said he strongly opposes of the referendums and thinks it will feed the community's problems with alcohol addiction.
While he believes in U.S. citizens’ freedom to choose, he said he also believes the country was built upon Christian principles.
“To take the very day designated as the Lord’s day and then quote-on-quote legalize the selling of alcohol on that day, is a slap in the face to God,” Reynolds said.
Josh Griffin, co-owner of Griffin Auto Service in downtown Lula, said even without the referendums passing, if locals want to purchase alcohol, they’ll do it.
Residents can easily drive out of the city limits on Sunday and pick up alcohol elsewhere in Hall.
“People are going to get it wherever they’re going to get it,” he said. “Might as well spend the money local.”
Amanda Browning, owner of Amanda’s Farm to Fork, has never sold alcohol in her restaurant. Even if the business was open on weekends, Browning said she would not serve wine and beer.
Having built many connections with people in Lula, Browning said she doesn’t think the referendums are in the community’s best interest.
“As far as the majority of people in the area, I think they like knowing that our small town is sticking to the same principal of not having alcohol,” she said.
Browning said she also cherishes her relationship with the church members who congregate at her restaurant on Friday nights and other days. By providing alcohol at her restaurant, she fears she could deter most of her customer base.
“I’d much rather not have alcohol and know I’d have their influence coming in all the time,” she said. “We’re family-run, and we have our children here. We are just not geared toward having alcohol.”