State legislators propose 'Brunch Bill' to allow alcohol sales before noon on Sunday

The bill would also allow permits for free liquor tastings at events.

Senate Bill 155, also called the “Brunch Bill,” was introduced by N.C. Senators Rick Gunn, R-Alamance, Kathy Harrington, R-Gaston and Dan Blue, D-Wake.

Gunn said the bill’s primary purpose is to support craft distilleries.

“We have two industries that are booming in the state of North Carolina. One of them is the distillery, the craft beer and the wine industry, and the second industry that is booming is travel and tourism,” Gunn said. “This is a great way to help them grow their business, thus creating jobs and helping the whole economy.”

The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association released a statement in support of the bill, which would allow restaurants to serve alcohol Sundays before noon.

“This ‘brunch bill’ will allow our North Carolina restaurants and hotels to meet their guests’ needs,” Lynn Minges, president and CEO, said in the statement. “With 55 million visitors to our state every year, this bill will be good for tourism and hospitality.”

Scott Maitland, founder and proprietor of Chapel Hill’s Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery and Top of the Hill Organic Spirits, said he helped develop the content of the bill as president of the Distillers Association of North Carolina.

“Sunday brunch is one of the most popular dining and drinking times of the week, and it should generate a lot of business and in turn, drop a lot of tax money,” Maitland said. “(Restaurants) are very excited to be able to run brunch like any other state in the union.”

The bill partially responds to market growth, as well as the market’s impact on tourism, Gunn said.

“I’m not sure we realized just how dramatically and quickly the wineries and breweries and craft distilleries were going to grow,” Gunn said. “Now we’re realizing how extremely viable these businesses are, and we’re looking at how we can help them grow their businesses.”

Because of the investments in capital and employment, the bill would help municipalities around the state, he said.

“These local distilleries are hiring local talent and using local produce,” he said.

If passed, special permits could be obtained to have free liquor tastings at events ranging from balloon races to local fundraisers and ABC stores.

“I believe this bill goes a long way in giving distilleries a lot of the same rights that breweries and wineries that have made them such a big part of our economy,” Maitland said.

state@dailytarheel.com

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