Marietta residents may soon be able to sip mimosas with their eggs Benedict when eating out on Sunday mornings.
The city is set to join a growing list of municipalities across Cobb County and Georgia asking voters this November whether to approve earlier Sunday alcohol sales at restaurants and bars.
State law prohibits restaurants from serving alcohol before 12:30 p.m. on Sundays now, but the “Brunch Bill” that passed the General Assembly this year allows the residents of Georgia’s cities and counties to decide whether they should be able to dive into their bloody Marys as soon as 11 a.m.
Marietta City Council members at their work session Thursday voted 6-1 to approve the resolution, which comes back to the council for one final vote next Wednesday, according to City Manager Bill Bruton. Councilman Reggie Copeland cast the lone vote against the measure, but refused to explain why when asked after the meeting.
If approved next week, Marietta will join Acworth as Cobb’s only cities to pass the referendum so far.
Dave Reardon, owner of Shillings on the Square, called the legislation long overdue, estimating he loses out on anywhere between $20,000 and $30,000 annually as his Sunday brunchers wait for 12:30 to roll around.
“It would impact us a lot,” said Reardon, who recently discovered Tennessee did away with a similar law about four years ago. “I didn’t realize we were so backwards.”
The Georgia Restaurant Association has long advocated for the reform of what it has called the state’s outdated laws, arguing moving up Sunday drinking times would create more revenue for Georgia while leveling the playing field among the state’s businesses.
Reardon said many of his customers don’t even bother to show up at the restaurant before half past noon.
“They say they’ll be in at 12:30, that there’s no reason to come at 11,” said Reardon, who doesn’t see the difference between 11:30 a.m. on a Saturday, when his bartenders can pour a stiff drink, and 11:30 a.m. on a Sunday, when they can’t. “Why, because people go to church on Sunday? It’s a non-issue.”
County commissioners are expected to vote on a resolution at their meeting on Tuesday.
Other Cobb cities such as Smyrna and Kennesaw are expected to wait to see how the county votes before taking up the matter.
Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler said any jurisdiction hoping to include a referendum on the November ballot needs to approve its resolution and notify her office no later than Friday, July 27.
The mayors of Austell and Powder Springs have expressed interest in putting the question up to voters, but have made no definite plans to bring a resolution before their respective council members yet.
If Marietta residents vote in favor of the referendum Nov. 6, the city’s Sunday alcohol restrictions would be lifted Nov. 18.