Debating the Issue of Sunday Alcohol Sales

A new ruling is blocking restaurants from becoming private clubs on Sundays so they can sell alcohol.

It is a typical Sunday at Beef o' Brady's in Dothan, when patrons gather to get a meal, cheer on their favorite team and drink a beer or two if they like.

However, a new ruling from the head of Alabama Beverage Control says restaurants can no longer become private clubs just on Sundays, meaning no more avoiding blue laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol on the Sabbath.

" We don't really know the answer to that. But certainly ABC has the authority to make these changes," said Mark Culver, Chairman of Houston County Commission.

Mayor Pat Thomas "I think we are fixing a system that is not broken. There were limited Sunday sales and I think it was a level the community was happy with."

Both Mayor Thomas and Chairman Culver believe the new ruling will mean the loss of sales tax money. Culver says neither the city nor county was looking for any sale expansion...just to continue doing what had been done for around 20-years.

News 4 contacted several managers of restaurants that sell alcohol on Sundays. Many chose not to comment but one manager says this ruling is going to have a tremendous negative impact.

That manager went on to say the ruling is unfair to businesses already suffering and will hurt the city in employment and revenue. Plus the manager says residents should have the right to have a drink on Sunday if they choose.

Officials are concerned about suddenly changing the current system.

"Olive Garden, Fridays and all these other place came knowing that this is the way it is operated. On Sunday's you could get a private club license, but now for it to be changed midstream is a little alarming," said Culver.

The move affects places like Houston and Shelby counties areas that have not approved the sale of alcohol on Sundays.

City and county officials are currently collaborating on what can be done.

"This was not an action of a legislative body. This was an administrative ruling that may or may not be legal, may or may not be binding. And all the groups are looking into it right now," said Mayor Thomas.

Culver says right now they will stick with a wait and see attitude and Mayor Thomas says an alcohol sales referendum could come in the future. Each club will now have to become a private club if they want to have their licenses renewed.

At this time, bars and clubs are not being impacted by this decision.

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