ELIZABETHTOWN — Diners wanting alcohol on Sunday mornings in Elizabethtown will be able to get it earlier.
Recently, Town Council members, at the behest of Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery owner Alex Munroe, passed an ordinance allowing for the sale of alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sundays, two hours earlier than was previously allowed.
“It’s only two additional hours,” commented Mayor Sylvia Campbell. “Alex has requested it, and it will help him in his business.”
Not everyone was on board, however. Councilman Dicky Glenn pointed out that revising the ordinances would only affect three restaurants in town. He questioned whether any of the establishments would move back their opening time just because of the passing of the ordinance, adding that he didn’t want to anger churches for something restaurants wouldn’t take advantage of anyway, as he believed the request from Munroe centered around other provisions in S.B 155.
“I’ll vote against liquor being sold at 10 in the morning,” Glenn added.
“Just because we pass this, I don’t think restaurants are going to open 1½ hours earlier, in my opinion,” commented Councilman Paula Greene.
“(Munroe) has brunches every so often, and weddings may require brunches,” countered Councilman Ricky Leinwand.
When it came to a vote, Leinwand, Greene and Clark voted for approval, and there were no negative votes cast, so the measure passed.
Earlier this summer, the North Carolina General Assembly passed Senate Bill 155, an omnibus proposal known as the “Brunch Bill.” Among other things, the bill increases the cap on the number of bottles of spirits distilleries are allowed to sell annually to their customers from one to five, allows distilleries to offer one-ounce samples at places like malls and festivals, and enables distilleries to store their spirits off site. It also gives municipal and county governments the freedom to push back the starting time for the sale of alcohol on Sundays, prompting Monday’s decision by the Council.
Munroe has said the bill as a whole means big changes for his business, especially the provision that allows for the sale of five bottles of alcohol instead of just one annually.
“It’s a pretty dramatic increase, and it would really give us the opportunity to showcase our products,” he said. “We have several different moonshines, for example — apple, blueberry, cinnamon — so if a person comes in, instead of being just limited to blueberry, they can try all our varieties. Otherwise, it’s like walking in an ice cream parlor and all they have is vanilla.”
He also said the simplified distribution that would arise from the freedom to store his spirits at the same site from which he ships could mean expanding and adding 10 more jobs to his business.
“North Carolina is still behind the curve when it comes to alcohol, but this legislation is a step in the right direction,” Munroe remarked.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.