Huntington businesses, bartenders prepare for busy Sundays

Sunday mornings in Huntington have just become a bit busier, after Huntington voted to allow the sale of alcohol on Sunday mornings. Restaurants will now be able to serve alcohol at 10 a.m. on Sundays, where the original time was 1 p.m.

This past March, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin passed senate bill 298, which allowed the earlier sale of alcohol, but required a county vote. This past election had the brunch bill on the ballot.

The intent of the bill is to bring tourism and revenue into West Virginia, and, for many businesses in Pullman, this could mean a lot more customers.

“I think that was the whole idea of it to start with, to change the law was to bring more business,” said bartender Andrew Browne, “and I think it will do that because, like I said, what’s going to happen is you’re going to have people from surrounding areas come downtown to brunch.”

This past January, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted a similar ban on the early sale of alcohol on Sunday mornings for New Yorkers. “The Times Union,” a news outlet from Albany, New York, said their version of the brunch bill would allow more of an opportunity for the craft brew industry and restaurants to grow.

Cuomo was quoted as saying, “This agreement to overhaul this state’s archaic blue laws (Sunday alcohol sales) will build upon these ongoing efforts by knocking down artificial barriers for restaurants and small businesses and helping this industry grow even stronger.”

For many Huntington bartenders, the feeling of the old law being outdated was mutual.

“The reason it was so controversial probably had a lot to do with the religion,” said bartender Amanda Mullins. “A lot of church-goers come in on Sunday morning. There is like three different lunch rushes on Sunday, the ‘brunch rush,’ and it lasts usually from one to three.”

There hasn’t been enough time to see in New York the economic benefits to passing their brunch bill, but the hope for much of downtown Huntington’s business owners is that it will create a stronger connection between Marshall University and the City of Huntington.

“When you give people a reason to come downtown, they check it out, they might have brunch, they might walk over to Pullman, they might have coffee,” said Browne. “If they do, you know it brings them downtown, gets them downtown, then they’ll keep coming back.”

Tom Jenkins can be contacted at [email protected].