'Mimosa mandate' would expand Sunday morning alcohol sales

If you have ever gone to brunch on a Sunday morning and tried to order a drink, you know you cannot get one until 12:30 p.m.

State lawmakers have proposed a bill, however, that could soon change that.

"The culture of society has changed and I think the old 'blue laws' have to change with it," explained Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, the bill's primary sponsor. 

The "mimosa mandate" would give local governments the power to expand Sunday alcohol sales in restaurants to as early as 10:30 a.m.  Unterman said that would fix "unfairness" in the state law, which currently allows state-owned entities like the Georgia World Congress Center to serve drinks beginning at 10:30 a.m.

"It's what customers want," said Ben Johnson, who owns West Egg Cafe and several other Atlanta restaurants with his wife, Jennifer.  "Every Sunday before 12:30 we get people who want to order a mimosa with their brunch or bloody Mary and it's hard for them to understand why not." 

According to the Georgia Restaurant Association, the bill would net restaurants an average of about $480 each Sunday, or $25,000 per year.  If you multiply that by the estimated 4,000 restaurants across the state that could benefit, the total impact could be $100 million each year.  That would add $11 million in new taxes to the state budget.

"We talk about it at this very high level, but I really want people to realize that there are real people that are affected by this," said Jennifer Johnson, who believes the bill would net servers an extra $20 to $30 in tips each Sunday.

The Johnsons believe the issue is not only about economics, but about hospitality. 

"It's an awkward position when we have a cocktail menu, we have drinks that are available and we can't give it to them," explained Ben Johnson.

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