Changes could come to Sunday alcohol sales

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Sunday may be a day of rest for some, but not in the restaurant business.

"I couldn't ever imagine not wanting to be open on Sundays," said Ryan Fairman, manager of Lucy's Retired Surfer Bar and Restaurant. "It's done great for us."

Lucy's is one of the few businesses in Baton Rouge with permission to sell alcohol on the Sabbath.

Under current city parish laws, Sunday alcohol sales are restricted to restaurants and grocery stores after 11 a.m. Bars can't sell at all, except when holidays fall on Sunday.

However, that could soon change.

"I think people should take it upon themselves to decide when they want to buy alcohol, if they want to go to a bar," said District 11 Councilwoman Alison Gary. "Also, the business that would sell and be open, they should have that choice."

Gary is introducing a proposal that would make Sunday like any other day of the week in terms of alcohol sales, meaning there would no restrictions on businesses.

Fairman says the extra day for revenue could only help his business neighbors.

"Especially downtown, being able to open more places down around us where it would bring a little more attention around here on Sundays," Fairman explained.

Gary says the laws are outdated, but not everyone agrees.

"We work really hard to make sure that oversaturation of alcohol, alcohol outlets in urban communities do not move in the wrong direction," said District 10 Councilwoman Tara Wicker. "And, I think in particular that ordinance is going to have a negative impact on those communities."

Wicker worries more access to alcohol would hurt some of the city's communities that already struggle with crime and substance abuse. She has looked at studies from LSU that show a link between crime and easy access to alcohol.

"There is evidence that when you put all those things together, you will have a negative impact on a neighborhood," said Wicker.

Wicker also feels there should be a clearer definition about the difference between a grocery store and a liquor store, saying that distinction should be made before any restrictions are lifted.

The proposal will be presented to the Metro Council Wednesday night. Members are expected to vote on the issue October 10. Council members encourage to public weigh in on the issue by contacting their council representative.

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