Will Albany serve alcohol on Sundays? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Will Albany serve alcohol on Sundays?

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September 29, 2002

Albany- Voters rejected Sunday liquor sales in 1991, but now the issue will be back on the ballots in November. This time supporters say they have a stronger case.

Former Chamber Chair Emily McAfee says alcohol free Sundays are hurting the local economy. "There are instances where restaurants have special brunch meals; there's certainly an influence in the number of conventions and business meetings that will come or not want to come to the city because of this issue," she says.

McAfee isn't the only one that believes dry Sundays are stifling Albany businesses. Colby Lazare, general manager of Carino's says Sunday alcohol sales could boost his profits 20 to 25 percent. But more than that alcohol is one of the keys to Italian dining.

"It intensifies the dining experience for the guests, them being able to come into an Italian restaurant, listen to Italian music -- it's a pretty romantic atmosphere, and to have a glass of wine with that would be much better," he says.

Most days the restaurant bar is full, but Sunday it was empty. Until the vote takes place, costumers will have to settle for sodas. But soft drink sales aren't what drive restaurants like Boxers Bar and Grill, which is almost empty on a football Sunday.

"Of course a lot of people travel to Dothan, Tallahassee, and even Macon to go watch football and drink alcohol, so those cities are getting that revenue we could be getting right now," admits Boxers bartender Tony Downs.

City Commissioner Bo Dorough is one of the major players who fought to put the issue back on ballots. He says a yes vote will give Albany an edge surrounding areas don't have. "Albany and Dougherty County is competing for retail and business establishments with Lee County. Being able to sell alcohol on Sunday would be one of the major incentives that might persuade restaurants to open in Albany rather than Lee County," says Dorough.

He also says people should at least have a choice to drink -- something they don't have now. "It's just an opportunity for people if they choose to go to a restaurant and have alcohol served, if they choose, but I'm sure there will be a lot of people with iced tea and coffee," adds McAfee.

If approved, only restaurants which generate 50% of their profits from food can sale alcohol on Sunday.

Posted at 6:35 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com