New law allows for earlier liquor sales on Sundays

Kathie Zipp

Restaurants, bars can now serve at 11 a.m.

Liquor lovers can now get their Sunday Bloody Marys and Mimosas earlier. A new state law allows consumption of liquor and wine to begin at 11 a.m. instead of 1 p.m. on Sundays.

Many of the more than 8,000 restaurants, bars and carryouts around the state that have spent several years lobbying for an earlier start time welcomed the change.

Restaurants will now be able to compete with professional sports stadiums, airports and hotels that can serve before 1 p.m., said Mark Glasper, director of communications for the Ohio Restaurant Association.

Local businesses agree that being allowed to serve liquor earlier will be nice.

“We get lots of showers, parties and class reunions that come to our Sunday brunch, which starts at 11 a.m.,” said Kevin Long, owner of The Pufferbelly Ltd. Restaurant and Bar in downtown Kent. “We also always have a big turnout for Homecoming and Halloween, so it will be nice to serve the drinks people want.”

As some brunch, others get ready for Sunday football down the street at Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar. Manager Alex Brant said although most fans drink beer, there are always requests for liquor.

“People have left after we told them we couldn’t serve liquor or wine before 1 p.m.,” he said. “They thought it was just us, and they could get it somewhere else.”

Brant mentions the downside is stronger alcohol mixed with rowdy sports fans may necessitate increased security.

Doug Scoles, state executive director for Mothers Against Drunk Driving Ohio, said state legislators are too concerned about adding more drinking hours when they should be putting the same effort into drunk-driving laws and increased road safety.

The restriction on alcohol sales originates from a blue law, which is a law prohibiting certain types of activities on Sundays. Individual states and communities implemented blue laws throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. Supporters of blue laws believed Sundays should be spent worshiping God, so activities that tended to keep people from attending church had to be prevented.

Ohio implemented several blue laws, including one that prohibited alcohol sales on Sundays. Eventually, the Ohio government permitted alcohol sales after 1 p.m., a time when most church services had ended. In 2000, Ohio Gov. Bob Taft signed a law that permitted alcohol sales in sports arenas as early as 11 a.m. The newest change was included in the recently passed state budget bill.

The change does not affect beer sales, which are permitted to start at most establishments early Sunday morning.

Contact public affairs reporter Kathie Zipp at [email protected]