2018-08-22 / Front Page

Brunch bill moves ahead

BY BILL WILLCOX
COURIER-TIMES STAFF WRITER

County commissioners took a step toward passing a brunch bill ordinance Monday morning during their regular meeting when they voted 4-1 in support of it.

The brunch bill would authorize the sale of alcoholic beverages on licensed premises beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays, instead of noon as currently allowed. As written it would apply to any ABC permit holder, which includes restaurants, hotels, bars and convenience stores, according to County Manager Heidi York.

If the vote Monday had been unanimous, the board could have adopted the ordinance immediately. But because it was a simple majority, it will come back to the next commissioners’ meeting Sept. 4 where it will need a majority vote to be enacted.

Two people expressed support for the bill during the citizen comment segment of the meeting.

Carter Lewis said he had just taken over a restaurant at Hyco Lake and named it Buoy’s Bar & Grill.

“I just want to see the restaurant be successful, make it another destination place,” he said. “As you know our restaurant selections are getting better and we just want to add onto that. We just want to do a Bloody Mary, mimosa, something like that, with their meal. It will give us another job shift for our people, our employees, give them more time, give them the opportunity to earn more money. It will give us another revenue stream to help our business grow and be more successful.”

Kirby McSherry, the chef at the restaurant, also spoke in support of the idea. He said he has already worked in some of the nicer restaurants in town, such as Heirloom and Brookland Eats.

“This bill will help bring customers in and give a reason for our local people to support the community, rather than driving to Durham, Hillsborough or Danville,” he said.

Board Chairman Tracey Kendrick also spoke in support of the measure, saying there would be increased sales tax revenue for the county if the bill passed.

One commissioner opposed

Commissioner Kyle Puryear made a motion for the vote but then Commissioner Jimmy Clayton announced he would not support the ordinance.

“Most of you were not on the board when they put liquor by the drink on the ballot,” he said. “I didn’t support that. I don’t think 10 o’clock or 12 o’clock is going to make a lot of difference. I’m still not interested in supporting it. If it was any day but Sunday and there was a problem with it, I wouldn’t mind extending the hours. I’m not going to make a big issue out of it, but I am not going to vote for it.”

If the ordinance passes next month, it will only apply to the unincorporated areas of the county.

The Roxboro City Council has already discussed adopting the brunch bill for the incorporated area of the city at a recent work session, but decided to table consideration of the matter until there was a demonstration of more community support.

Kyle Wilkerson, coowner of Heirloom Restaurant, originally asked the city to pass the brunch bill. He has been collecting signatures on a petition of support and had 109 as of Monday morning.

“It only makes sense,” Wilkerson said. “It would help make Roxboro a progressive city. Yanceyville and Oxford have already passed it.”

For City Councilman Mark Phillips, the broad language of the city’s proposed ordinance is a source of concern.

Phillips said the current statute would include bars.

“I did not like the way it was written and presented to us,” he said. “My concern was that it was too open ended and seemed to allow for more than restaurants to begin serving that early. I think that it was written to allow all ABC permit holders’ to begin serving or selling at that time. To me that is not a ‘brunch bill.’”

Mayor Pro Tem Tim Chandler expressed a similar concern.

“I would be open to a brunch bill written in a manner that would allow restaurants in the city limits to serve alcohol with brunch meals on Sunday mornings, beginning at 10 o’clock,” he said. “At present, I would not be in favor of a brunch bill written in a manner that would allow convenience stores, grocery stores, and so on, to begin selling alcohol on Sunday mornings.”

The city’s attorney is exploring options for restricting the ordinance to restaurants and will bring his findings back to the next city council meeting.

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