Serving alcohol before noon on a Sunday is prohibited by state law, and some people would like to see that changed.
Other individuals, however, would like to see the restriction stay.
As the County Legislature worked through the agenda at Wednesday’s meeting, a motion followed encouraging the state to disband its law that restricts the sale of alcohol before noon on Sunday. The motion, sponsored by county legislators George Borrello, R-Irving, and Bob Bankoski, D-Dunkirk, came about with legislation sitting in the Assembly to fix the law.
“It’s holding (businesses) back until noon on Sunday to open up wine tasting or craft brew sales,” Bankoski said.
The motion, garnering 12 yes votes, failed with four legislators voting no and two abstaining. Thirteen votes were needed to send the motion to state representatives in Albany.
New Yorkers can walk into the grocery store on Sunday at 8 a.m. to purchase a case of beer, but having a mimosa or Bloody Mary at a restaurant for brunch is disallowed, Borrello said. With a host of wineries, a craft brewery and various bars, Borrello said businesses throughout Chautauqua County would benefit with an increase in revenue.
“The server minimum wage is going to increase,” he said. “We’re telling the owners in our area that they need to pay higher wages for people, yet we’re going to restrict their ability to increase revenues by telling them they cannot serve an alcoholic beverage at a Sunday brunch. It’s truly unfair and should be corrected.”
Voting against the resolution, Terry Niebel, R-Sheridan, said state legislation could effect the one dry town in the county in Clymer. At the same time, Niebel said county legislators didn’t receive any input from the town and believes negative social impacts would resonate if the state Legislature eliminated the restriction. Chairman Jay Gould, R-Ashville, represents the town of Clymer and voted against the motion. John Hemmer, R-Westfield, and Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia also voted no.
Elisabeth Rankin, R-Jamestown, and Lisa Vanstrom, R-West Ellicott, abstained and cited their affiliations with Assemblyman Andy Goodell and state Sen. Cathy Young as the main reason.
James Knowlton spent Thursday afternoon bartending at The Pub and said antiquated laws should not be governing the state in 2016.
“If Erie County can sell alcohol to college students until 4 a.m., then there’s no reason why we can’t have a bloody Mary for breakfast,” he said.
Katelyn Carlson sat at the bar for lunch and a drink Thursday afternoon. Carlson, a restaurant worker, said eliminating the old, religious law will only help business.
“I don’t think it’s the government’s job to get into our lives in that venue,” she said. “Government is suppose to work for the people.”
Legislation sponsored by Assemblymembers Dan Quart, D-Manhattan, and Thomas O’Mara, R-Big Flats, is taking aim at the beverage control law to change the times in which a person can be served alcohol. A similar bill is sponsored in the Senate by Pat Gallivan, R-Elma.
One local business owner in the alcohol industry said a change in the law would increase business in some areas, but Sunday should be a day for relaxation and going to church.
“There are six other days in the week where they could open whenever they want.”