Mon, May 20, 2024

A twist on Sunday bar openings?

Augusta bar owners were vocal in their displeasure with what Sunday they can be open this year, and commissioners listened.

Meeting in a special session on Monday, commissioners re-visited their decision last year to designate Super Bowl Sunday as the day. It followed complaints last week from bar owners unhappy they had to stay closed on New Year’s Eve.

By choosing Super Bowl Sunday, bar owners were not permitted to open for New Year’s Eve, and owners said it hurt them financially. Adrian Estrada, owner of The Loft, a nightclub on Broad Street, said Super Bowl Sunday is not as big a moneymaker.

“We want Cinco de Mayo,” he said. “For the most part, we want to be able to choose our own Sunday, but we have to get one. Right now, it’s just Cinco de Mayo seems like the better bet.”

A report by Womply, a local commerce platform that helps businesses with data, bears out Estrada’s opinion.

“Somewhat surprisingly, Super Bowl Sunday doesn’t appear to move the needle much for restaurants and bars nationwide, on average. For restaurants, total daily revenue is down, both compared to their average day and compared to an average Sunday. For bars, revenue compared to their typical day was up, but for a Sunday, it was slower than usual,” the report said.

Georgia’s blue laws restrict bars, those that do not serve food, to one Sunday each year they can be open for business. Local governments choose one Sunday each year for their municipality.

District 7 Commissioner, Sean Frantom brought the suggestion to the commission last week, but the board decided to survey bar owners before changing the Sunday bars can be open this year.

Brian Kepner, deputy director of the city’s Planning and Licensing Department, said there are 61 bars licensed in the city.

“We had 52 that have email addresses, and so those were sent the survey, and we also called the nine that only have phone numbers,” he explained. “We only received back 15 replies from the survey. Of that, 46% requested St. Patrick’s Day, which would be seven of them. And then 40%, which would be six, requested Super Bowl Sunday. And there were only two requests which would have been 13.33% for Cinco de Mayo.”

Although St. Patrick’s Day also falls on a Sunday this year, celebrations and the parade will be held on Saturday, March 16.

Commissioners decided to keep this year’s designated Sunday on Super Bowl Sunday.

Moving forward, District 1 Commissioner, Jordan Johnson said a way should be found to prevent a similar situation in the future.

“We need to get in front of these bar owners somehow,” he said. “Maybe there needs to be something public held, but just to set it without understanding that there are some folks who want a different date, we’re going to be right back in the situation.”

District 7 Commissioner, Sean Frantom, who brought the bar owners’ concerns to last week’s meeting, suggested putting the question to Augusta voters.

“Basically, put it on a referendum in November that the citizens would add all holidays, that would not fall on Monday, all holidays that can move around on the calendar to where they can be added to the alcohol license. Then this will never happen again in future years,” he recommended.

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