Waynesville brunch ordinance sends message
After two low-key meetings that saw no opposition, the Town of Waynesville Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance moving the start of alcohol sales on Sundays from noon to 10 a.m.
“A vote of ‘no’ says we are not as open to business,” said distillery owner Dave Angel Sept. 12.
Although Angel’s Elevated Mountain sits in Maggie Valley, Angel said that the vote was more about the town’s image and ability to compete for tourists than about giving drinkers a two-hour head start.
The brunch ordinance would, however, benefit Angel indirectly at restaurants that carry his spirits, including Hurricane Creek Vodka — the staple of many a brunch Bloody Mary.
The unanimous vote came after an Aug. 22 meeting during which Mayor Gavin Brown briefly discussed the issue and then called for a public hearing Sept. 12.
At that time, Aldermen seemed supportive of the idea, if not cautious.
Gary Caldwell said that both Angel and Waynesville’s American legion had asked him about allowing the earlier start. Aldermen Julia Boyd Freeman and Jon Feichter said they were looking forward to hearing from the community, and Alderman Leroy Roberson asked town staff to look into any adverse effects in the communities that had already passed such an ordinance.
When the public meeting was held Sept. 12, no one showed up to speak in opposition to the proposed ordinance; Angel, along with Boojum General Manager Chris Lowe and Bourbon Barrel owner Ashley Owens did, however.
“It’s about customer service,” Lowe said.
“I really would like to do brunch,” said Owens, who added that her restaurant had been open for six years and that she thought it would be lucrative.
“I don’t want religion to cross into the issue,” she said. “I’m simply looking for a better way to make money for my business.”
Owens’ case is unique in that the Bourbon Barrel isn’t currently open on Sundays, meaning that if she were to do brunch, the business would generate more revenue and workers would have the opportunity to earn more each week.
Alderman Freeman sad that since the Aug. 22 Town Board meeting, she’d heard “absolutely no public input whatsoever” opposing the ordinance. Alderman Caldwell said he’d similarly heard no opposition.
Feichter, however, produced the results of an informal poll he posted on his Facebook page.
“That post reached almost 5,000 people,” Feichter said, noting that number was around five times larger than anything else he’d posted. “There were 34 for it and three opposed. Needless to say, I am completely in favor.”
Roberson, too, was apparently satisfied with the resolution of his question posed weeks earlier.
“I see no reason why we can’t proceed with the vote now,” he said; the board didn’t have to consider the question that evening, but did so, and with a motion by Caldwell and a second by Feichter, it passed without opposition, meaning that restaurants (and bars, gas stations, grocery stores or any other licensed vendors) may now begin utilizing the expanded hours.
Local establishments were quick to respond to the news of the ordinance’s passage.
David Young owns Mad Anthony’s — the bar that got into a very public spat with town officials over its unlicensed food truck last year.
A lot has changed for Young’s establishment over the past year, including the location. So too, apparently has his disdain for town officials, who he lambasted last year during the prolonged hearings; Young and his supporters accused the town of being too closed-minded and anti-business when their adverse ruling came down.
“I think the aldermen made a great decision for Waynesville businesses, and Waynesville in general,” Young said. “We will be offering brunch, but we don’t have a specific timeline yet.”
Boojum Brewing Company in downtown Waynesville — an early backer of the ordinance — offered a similar response.
“We’re going to offer brunch, but we don’t have all the details worked out yet,” said Lowe. “We already open at 11:30, but we’re not sure if we will open earlier, or have specials, all of that. It’s just really about satisfying our customers.”