Sunday alcohol sales do have an impact

Published 11:41pm Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dallas County residents have two more days before heading to the polls to vote. One of the more controversial issues on Tuesday’s ballot is the referendum regarding the legal sale of alcohol on Sundays.

Tuscaloosa County residents were faced with a ballot that held a similar issue in February 2011. The legalization of Sunday alcohol sales in Tuscaloosa County passed with overwhelming support.

Donny Jones, chief operating officer of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama said as of November 2012, it hasn’t been long enough since Sunday alcohol sales were approved to comment on the impact its passage has had on the county.

“Right now we don’t have any concrete numbers if it’s produced anything for the community other than just the sales of alcohol, but as far as businesses and it’s attractiveness to new market, we don’t know,” Jones said.

Tuscaloosa city clerk, Tracy Croom agreed.

“As far as the number of [new] businesses [coming to Tuscaloosa] after Sunday alcohol sales passed] we have seen some annexations that are coming in because of Sunday alcohol sales, however now that Northport has passed it, it’s not as important as it was before,” Croom said.

Economically speaking, when it comes to food sales, “Sunday is the number three day in restaurant sales behind the weekend,” Lawrence Fidel, president of the Alabama Restaurant Association said. “The addition of having the option of having alcohol only improves those sales.”

Fidel said that restaurants looking for locations to open take into consideration whether or not the county allows Sunday alcohol sales.

“It has been [a factor]. In fact, some of the chain restaurants, when they look at site selection they look at alcohol laws in the local jurisdiction to make sure that they can meet their sales goals, and certainly Sunday is one of their big sales days too,” Fidel said. “They have in the past avoided some areas that have not offered Sunday sales. I do know that in those areas that have added Sunday sales in the state of Alabama over the years, that revenues have dramatically gone up on those Sundays.”

Sunday sales supporter Steve South, general manager of Bama Budweiser said there’s not much he’s planning to do in an effort to express his thoughts on Sunday alcohol sales between now and Tuesday.

“We helped get the word out there; that’s about as much as we can do. It’s up to the people now [to decide] if they want it or they don’t,” South said. “Everybody’s aware of it. The city, our company and the community needs it, so it’s up to the voters.”

While everyone may be aware of the referendum on Tuesday’s ballot, some are still undecided.

Bob Kelley, owner of Tally-Ho Restaurant said he’s not sure how the vote will affect his business.

“I haven’t thought an awful lot about it,” Kelley said. “I’m not sure what we’re going to do.”

Tally-Ho, which is open six days a week, is closed on Sundays, meaning the passage of alcohol sales on Sunday won’t impact his business as is.

“As it stands now, if we don’t open on Sunday [passage of Sunday alcohol sales] wouldn’t affect [us] one way or the other, I don’t think,” Kelley said.

Kelley noted that if the referendum passed it could be a contributing factor to open Tally-Ho’s doors on Sundays if he ever wanted to — a decision he said he is not currently considering.

“I know it would give us the opportunity to do that, which of course could be a positive thing in our game plan, maybe if not right now, in the future. I’m not sure I would change it, but I guess it could give us opportunity if we ever wanted to.” he said. “On the other hand, we are also deep in the south, and there are some strong feelings against alcohol sales on Sunday, even though they are available anyway at private clubs and so forth.”

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