Wine lover Kristy Gomez was elated when she learned that Atlanta is expanding the hours licensed stores can sell packaged alcohol on Sunday.
The change adds two more hours to the current 11-hour window when Sunday restrictions on alcohol sales are lifted. This means sales can occur from 11 a.m. to midnight on Sundays instead of 12:30 to 11:30 p.m.
Voters approved the ballot measure earlier this month, the latest effort to chip away at Georgia’s “Blue Laws” that prohibit certain activities on what the state once observed as a religious day of rest. Four years ago, city residents also approved the so-called Brunch Bill, which allowed restaurants and bars to serve alcohol beginning at 11 a.m. on Sundays instead of 12:30 p.m.
“It allows grown people to make grown folks’ choices about what they want to do,” Gomez said of the newly expanded hours, as she browsed through bottles inside 3 Parks Wine Shop, a Black-owned store in Glenwood Park.
Gomez was among the 81.2% of Atlanta voters who cast their ballots in favor of widening the time frame when packaged alcohol can be sold by licensed grocers, wine shops, and liquor stores.
It’s unclear exactly when the change to the city’s law takes effect. Multiple local news outlets have said the change will take place in 2023. The city law department says the new law took effect after election results were certified, according to the office of Atlanta City Council member Alex Wan. Wan introduced the ordinance that led to the ballot referendum. Council members in May approved putting the measure on the ballot.
It wasn’t a huge public outcry that motivated Wan to draft the legislation, according to his chief of staff, Lance Orchid — Wan simply sought to ensure that Atlanta’s alcohol sales laws aligned with the state’s.
Georgia lawmakers previously voted to allow localities to expand Sunday packaged alcohol sales hours. Gwinnett County followed suit in March. Orchid said local alcohol retailers have voiced their approval for the new sales hours.
“Any sort of package store or beer, wine, spirit manufacturer is probably pretty happy about it,” he said.
Alphonzo Cross is the co-owner of Quintessential, the parent company for Parlor, a cocktail bar in Castleberry Hill. Parlor doesn’t sell packaged alcohol, but Cross said he supported the ballot measure anyway.
It’s just one less challenge with which Black business owners like him have to contend.
“It’s hard enough operating a small business without time constraints,” Cross told Capital B Atlanta. “The least amount of time constraints on a business, such as food and beverage, allows the operation to be as successful as possible.”
The same goes for patrons like Gomez.
“If people want to have more time to [drink] on the weekends or the weekdays, then they should be allowed to,” she said. “As long as they’re of age, then I don’t think there should be limits to it.”