Atlantans are one step closer to sipping mimosas starting at 11 a.m. on Sundays, the AJC reports. On Monday, the Georgia House voted 97-64 to pass Senate Bill 17 (SB 17). It now heads to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature (hopefully) before the proposed law is voted on by the public.
The bill would allow restaurants to serve alcohol on Sundays beginning at 11 a.m. rather than 12:30 p.m. However, this latest version does not permit Georgia consumers to purchase alcohol before 12:30 p.m. from grocery or liquor stores.
SB 17 has taken nearly two years to get to this point in the process. But, this is the first time there’s actual hope of seeing it become law, having now passed both the state senate and house. The last brunch bill (HB 535) to go to the Georgia General Assembly was in 2016. It passed the House but was stopped by the Senate Rules Committee.
While Atlanta’s brunchers are eager to see this bill pass, restaurants who rely on a brisk weekend brunch business believe the new proposed law could positively impact their bottom line.
“This will help boost sales for small businesses in Atlanta,” says Jenn Streck, co-owner of popular brunch spots Cypress Street Pint & Plate and Hampton + Hudson. “A lot of people wait until 12:30 to meet for brunch. This will definitely help attract customers to come in earlier.”
In 2015, the Georgia Restaurant Association estimated allowing Sunday morning alcohol sales could generate an average of $25,000 per year for the state’s restaurants, many of whom are small, independently-owned businesses.
“I think this is a great move for Georgia, as a whole, whether you drink alcohol or not,” 8Arm general manager and beverage director Joshua Fryer says. “I am happy this incremental change will most certainly benefit not only 8Arm and other restaurants’ sales, but will also increase tax income for the state to use on infrastructure improvements, education, and other public services.”
“There are statistics out there about how much the bill would add in new taxes to the state budget, multiplying increased sales by the thousands,” Johnson explains. “There are real people at each restaurant immediately affected by the passage of this bill. I believe it could net servers an extra $20 to $30 in tips each Sunday for the same number of hours of work. That’s a several dollar an hour raise.”
In other words, the passing of SB 17 could mean more than simply sipping mimosas earlier during Sunday brunch, it could provide the economic boost many Georgians working within the restaurant industry are seeking.
“That [extra tips] nearly pays for their share of health insurance premiums or goes towards savings or for car repairs to assure they have transportation to work,” adds Johnson. “It’s meaningful, and they deserve it.”