Fort Mill Times

Leaders back Sunday alcohol sales in York County

About a half-dozen business leaders from Fort Mill, Lake Wylie and Rock Hill gathered Friday at the Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce last week to declare their support for the Nov. 4 referendum on Sunday alcohol sales countywide.

"It has a huge economic impact," Chet Miller, campaign co-chairman for Citizens and Business for York County, said of countywide Sunday sales. "Needless to say, it generates more jobs."

Opponents still aren't swayed by the possible economic benefits of Sunday sales.

"We just don't believe anything that promotes alcohol consumption is a good thing," said Mike O'Dell, director of missions for the York Baptist Association.

Amy Bovender, owner of Six Pence Pub in Fort Mill and an organizer of the recent petition drive, said three weeks ago, her restaurant had four tables walk out on Sunday brunch after learning no alcohol was allowed.

The two-year process to get the issue on the ballot required supporters to gather 7,500 signatures.

The group gathered 9,000 signatures touting increased tax revenue, decreased unemployment, recruiting of national restaurants and personal choice.

In the City of Tega Cay, customers already can order alcohol at restaurants on Sunday. In Nov. 4, city residents will also have a chance to vote in a referendum that asks them to decide whether or not the city should allow takeout sales of alcohol as well.

Jeff Brown, managing partner at Outback Steakhouse in Rock Hill, said his business is a testament to the need for change.

After years of not being allowed Sunday sales, Outback began serving alcohol when Rock Hill passed a similar rule allowing the practice. While Sunday once was the least busy day of the week, now it ranks behind only Saturday and Friday, Brown said.

Business leaders Friday were optimistic that, after previous failed attempts to change the Sunday alcohol law, a new day will come.

But there's likely to be strong opposition.

"Our pastors will definitely ask their people to oppose it," said O'Dell of the Baptist Association. "That's just a given."