Will bars in Savannah be open on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day? And what about other Sundays too?

January 16, 2014 13:00 pm

by Bill Dawers · 3 comments

St. Patrick’s Day, which is the culmination of a days-long party here in Savannah, falls on a Monday this year. That means big business for establishments that sell alcohol over the weekend leading up to the holiday.

Bars can’t be open on Sundays, however. Restaurants (i.e., establishments that do at least half their business in food service) are allowed to be open on Sunday — and most in the downtown area will be de facto bars on that night before St. Patrick’s Day.

In light of this obvious inequity (or, some would say, iniquity), Savannah city council members are now pushing for a change in state law to allow bars to be open on Sundays.

From the Savannah Morning News, Savannah proposing Sunday bar operations to state:

Alderman Tony Thomas said he wants to make sure restaurants and retail stores are not the only businesses able to profit during that time. In addition, Thomas said bars, as well as booths set up in City Market for the occasion, should be able to legally sell alcohol that Sunday.

Currently, state law requires restaurants to derive more than half of their annual revenue from food sales in order to sell alcohol on Sundays.

Nonprofits also have the ability to sell alcohol during occasions such as St. Patrick’s Day, as they have in the past, said Thomas. To be fair, the people who are purchasing alcohol licenses should also have that option, he said.

Alderman Van Johnson said the change is a legislative priority for him. The restriction no longer makes sense after Savannah’s voters approved a referendum in 2011 allowing Sunday alcohol sales at retail stores, he said.

I have no idea how this proposal will be seen by legislators from around the state who would have to sign off on it. And even if Savannah manages to loosen the Sunday restriction before St. Patrick’s, I don’t know if local citizens will embrace the idea of bars being open every Sunday.

But downtown Savannah’s famed to-go cups generate hugely positive press and big revenues for the city, and we’d certainly see even more visitor spending if bars could be open on Sundays.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

peachpundit (@peachpundit) January 16, 2014 at 1:00 pm

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Will Durant January 16, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Past rulings by the courts upholding Sunday Blue Laws are another area where legal and logical part ways, at least for this layman.

northside101 January 16, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Like Buckhead (the one in Atlanta, not the one off I-20 in Morgan County), Savannah has a fairly large population of Catholics and Episcopalians—two denominations that have never frowned merely on the use (as opposed to abuse) of alcohol. (Of course, it would be hard for both denominations to condemn the use of alcohol, given both have always used wine in their weekly Sunday Eucharisst.) I bet if both areas were given the opportunity to vote on Sunday bar sales, the answer easily would be “yes.” (Buckhead voted overwhelmingly, over 80 percent, for Sunday retail alcohol sales in 2011.) Also, anyone know what is the magic about establishments being able to serve alcohol after 1230 on Sunday? Is it a sin to buy it at 12:29?