Andrew Dys

Restaurant owners say it's time for Sunday sales

FORT MILL -- Nick Economos goes to work in his Fort Mill Township restaurant, Fishbone Grille, on Gold Hill Road just south of the state line, on Sundays. After he has gone to church.

Sometimes, he gets to watch his own exodus.

People will sit down and a waitress who works on Sunday to make those tips that buy the milk and pay the tithes, will ask, "Can I get you something to drink first?"

If that person asks for a glass of wine or an icy beer, the waitress has to say, "Not here. Not on Sunday."

The people like Economos who are advocating alcohol sales in York County's unincorporated areas are again attempting to get the 7,500 signatures to get a countywide vote on Sunday sales on the ballot. Until then, the waitress will explain that York County's unincorporated areas are dry on Sundays.

No wine, no beer, no how.

Not all customers, but some, balk.

"They just pull the chairs back, get up and leave," Economos said.

Economos doesn't know where those people who leave go, but those people are still hungry and thirsty.

They could go toward Interstate 77 on S.C. 160 and turn right into the fairy-tale land that is Baxter Village. Baxter is so perfect the sun shines even when it rains. Whoops, almost perfect. There is a British-themed restaurant and pub in Baxter called Six Pence. On Sunday, there is no pub beer.

The other way on S.C. 160, the road soon turns into N.C. 160. At N.C. 49 those people can turn left and pull into The Gridiron, which sells alcohol on Sunday. On football Sundays, so many people from Fort Mill and Tega Cay pack The Gridiron that they could have neighborhood association meetings.

Farther south on N.C. 49 is the Buster Boyd Bridge, which crosses Lake Wylie back into York County. There is T-Bones restaurant, accessible by road and water.

On Sundays, it's dry as a bone.

All those roads pass churches. Where fine people have found what they seek for so long. Church on Sunday is important to people here, has been since the place was settled. Many say, rightly, that church is a vital root in York County.

Economos is one of them. He still wants Sunday alcohol sales for restaurants.

Paul Lindemann, who represents the Fort Mill area on the York County Council, said he is for Sunday sales and has talked to several businesses and residents who want it. He said he is even is willing to help work to get it passed.

People who don't want to drink on Sunday don't have to or can choose another spot to eat if they don't want to go to a place that serves alcohol, Lindemann said.

Tom Smith, the York County Councilman who represents Lake Wylie, said he hasn't had any calls for or against Sunday sales and hasn't taken a position.

Rock Hill voters recently passed Sunday sales, overwhelmingly, despite objections from many in the religious community. Cops said they haven't seen a spike in rowdiness or DUIs. The city has had no problem cashing checks for an estimated $75,000 in fees from businesses that the city will collect for licenses to sell alcohol on Sunday.

Rock Hill owners who sell alcohol on Sunday said Sunday business has spiked, Lindemann said.

And then there is fairness. York County on Jan. 1 started a 2 percent hospitality tax on prepared food and drinks, for mainly unincorporated areas. More than $325,000 has been collected so far, from businesses that can sell booze and food six days a week but have a muzzle on the beer taps on Sunday.

Tell the waitress who saw the tips walk out on Sunday that is hospitality.

Economos has tried Sunday specials. Fishbone cooks will not prepare All You Can Eat Crab legs anymore, once used to try and bring people in on Sunday and have them stay. Economos said the price of crab legs has clawed higher than the price of gasoline.

Economos estimates that he would raise total sales on Sunday, made up of at least 80 percent food, by about $500 if he could sell alcohol, too.

Fifty-two Sundays -- that's better than 25 grand. Fifteen percent of that, a normal tip percentage, is around $4,000, round figures.

Any waitress who has to work on Sunday could use four grand.

Sunday customers eat, drink and pay. Waitresses and busboys, who tithe, and buy clothes for their kids, prefer cash.

Do you think York County should allow Sunday alcohol sales at bars and restaurants? Come to community.heraldonline.com to vote in our online poll.

WEB EXTRA

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