Alex Orocz, left, and Liz Tracy sip beers at Trophy Brewing & Taproom in Raleigh on Sunday, July 9, in celebration of North Carolina’s new Brunch Bill. The Chapel Hill Town Council voted Monday, July 10, to allow local restaurants and bars to serve alcohol on Sunday mornings. Travis Long tlong@newsobserver.com
Alex Orocz, left, and Liz Tracy sip beers at Trophy Brewing & Taproom in Raleigh on Sunday, July 9, in celebration of North Carolina’s new Brunch Bill. The Chapel Hill Town Council voted Monday, July 10, to allow local restaurants and bars to serve alcohol on Sunday mornings. Travis Long tlong@newsobserver.com

Orange County

Chapel Hill businessman helps bring alcohol to Sunday brunch

By Tammy Grubb

tgrubb@heraldsun.com

July 11, 2017 08:00 AM

CHAPEL HILL

A local Brunch Bill rule will not only let more people drink at Sunday brunch, but create jobs and more tax money for the town, a local restauranteur said.

Scott Maitland, owner of TOPO Distillery and Top of the Hill restaurant, said he was still savoring the brunch he had with his family Sunday morning at Acme in Carrboro.

The restaurant was “packed to the gills,” he said, and the Acme staff applauded when he stopped by the kitchen to say thanks. They thanked him for making Sunday mornings more profitable for the restaurant, he said.

As president of the Distillers Association of North Carolina, Maitland was heavily involved in lobbying for the change. The North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association has estimated it could generate $25,000 in additional revenue each year for restaurants and bars.

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Scott Maitland

The majority of those sales will be food, said Maitland, who expects at least a 4 percent sales bump at Top of the Hill.

“It’s not like we’re lining up shots and people are buying alcohol – it just becomes a thing – let’s go have a mimosa, let’s have a bloody Mary,” he said. “So, what this does is it allows the Acme, Top of the Hill, Carolina Inn, the Il Palio, all these folks, to market this and to lean into what is rapidly turning into (a local amenity).”

Gov. Roy Cooper signed the “Brunch Bill” law June 30, allowing restaurants and stores to sell alcohol before noon on Sundays with local government approval.

The law also allows alcohol distillers to sell up to five bottles per person at their facilities. It’s changed the way he thinks about the business – a line of syrups and bitters is in the works – and has created two jobs, Maitland said. He expects distillery sales to grow 5 percent.

Chapel Hill joined Carrboro and Raleigh in allowing Sunday morning alcohol sales following a discussion Monday that lasted less than nine minutes. The Town Council vote was unanimous.

Nancy Oates

“I think it’s important that, given as Carrboro passed this already, then we want to be able to pass this in Chapel Hill before people get into a tradition of going to Carrboro for their Sunday brunch, because we do have some options in Chapel Hill,” council member Nancy Oates said. “And we would like to make sure we start a tradition in Chapel Hill.”

The council stopped short, however, of allowing local stores to sell alcohol before noon. That discussion will be held in September so the Campus and Community Coalition to Reduce the Negative Impacts of High Risk Drinking can weigh in.

Sunday morning sales shouldn’t create a public safety issue, Maitland said, or affect the worship hour at local churches. He faced opposition from the Rev. Mark Creech and the Christian Action League at the state level. No one raised religious concerns at Monday’s meeting.

“A majority of Christians worship on Sunday, and most of them don’t have a problem with alcohol,” Maitland said. “Jewish and Seventh-day Adventists worship on Saturday. Obviously, they would like to go out.”

The Durham City Council plans to discuss its local ordinance at a July 27 work session.