City, county residents will vote on 'brunch bill' in November

Liz Marino/Douglas County Sentinel

Burke's Grill owners Dwight and Peggy Burke stand beside the sign that shares the mission of their eight-year-old restaurant on Chapel Hill Road. Dwight Burke spoke at Monday's Douglas County Board of Commissioners work session, asking that they vote for a resolution putting the "brunch bill" on the November ballot.

Residents out for a Sunday brunch may no longer have to wait until12:30 to order a Bloody Mary or Mimosa if Douglasville and Douglas County voters decide on Nov. 6 to allow Sunday sales of alcohol by the drink from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Both the Douglas County Board of Commissioners and the Douglasville City Council have passed resolutions to put the measure on the Nov. 6 ballot and let the voters decide if they would like to have Sunday brunch alcohol sales begin and hour and a half earlier.

While the votes aren't binding, if voters decide in favor of changing the respective alcohol ordinances, that would give the BOC and council, respectively, authoritization to amend their ordinances — which they would likely do.

The BOC voted to approve a “Sunday Brunch Bill” resolution Tuesday to put it on the November ballot which would authorize Douglas County to permit and regulate Sunday sales of distilled spirits or alcoholic by the drink from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. if the voters approve.

Dwight Burke, owner of Burke's Grill with his wife, Peggy, spoke in favor of putting the "Brunch Bill" resolution on the Nov. 6 ballot during Monday's BOC work session. He said that there are only eight restaurants outside the city of Douglasville and he wants the county "to be on a level playing field" with city restaurants.

"Our goal was filling the need for some place local for people to bring their family," Burke said. "We try to do more for our county than we take back."

He said that by the county passing a resolution to put the Brunch Bill on the ballot, it makes it a level playing field with restaurants in the city of Douglasville.

"Even if we served just one Mimosa," Burke said, "it will go back into the community. Now it is in the hands of Douglas County voters and in the hands of voters to make sure its fair."

According to the Georgia Restaurant Association, in order to have this bill on the November ballot, the resolution or ordinance needs to be passed by the city or county by July 31 at the latest.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 17 on May 8 so residents in each city and county throughout Georgia can now decide whether to allow the sale of alcohol at restaurants in their communities on Sundays beginning at 11 a.m. via a local referendum.

During this year's state legislative session, both District 30 Senator Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton and District 35 Senator Donzella James, D-Atlanta voted in favor of the measure, while all of the Douglas County state representatives except District 62 Rep. William Boddie, D-Atlanta, voted against the bill.

While SB 17 allows restaurants to serve alcohol on Sundays starting at 11 a.m. rather than 12:30 p.m., the new law does not permit Georgia consumers to purchase alcohol before the current 12:30 p.m. from grocery or liquor stores.

The new law should have a significant impact on the bottom lines of thousands of Georgia restaurants, the Georgia Restaurant Association said.

The association reported that each restaurant that can sell alcohol will generate approximately an extra $25,000 a year (extra $480.77 on Sundays). There are about 4,000 restaurants in Georgia that could benefit which would mean a total of $100 million extra in revenue and at 11 percent total taxes, $11 million more in tax revenue.

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