Voters in Lancaster County will decide Sunday alcohol sales proposition

joverman@fortmilltimes.comOctober 2, 2012 

— On Nov. 6 Lancaster County residents will have a chance to vote on a referendum that has been several years in the making.

Voters will decide whether on-premise alcohol sales should be allowed on Sundays. Elissa Boyet started the push toward on-premise Sunday alcohol sales in 2010 when she grew frustrated with the lack of dining options on Sundays in her home community of Indian Land. Many restaurants in the county close on Sunday because they can’t offer alcohol, she said.

“They have to pay their employees and overhead, but they don’t make enough money because they can’t serve alcohol. They need to have that choice,” she said.

Boyet began with a petition that aimed to get enough signatures from registered voters in the county to trigger a referendum. All that’s left now, she said, is to get residents to vote “yes.”

Danny LaFranca, one of the owners of Carolina Bistro in Indian Land, said his restaurant would open on Sundays if they were allowed to serve alcohol. Until then, the restaurant will remain closed on Sundays, he said.

“It complements the food and the concept we have here, with the TVs and the sports atmosphere,” LaFranca said.

“We definitely encourage the referendum.”

LaFranca and Boyet agree that Sunday alcohol sales in restaurants will bring in revenue to the county and prevent residents from crossing the state line to dine in nearby Ballantyne, N.C., on Sundays.

LaFranca said he also thinks that more restaurants will be willing to locate in the county if Sunday alcohol sales are allowed.

“It’s definitely a major thing. A Chili’s, an O’Charley’s, or any type of chain would definitely come over to the 521 corridor if they could sell alcohol on Sundays. That’s probably why they don’t,” he said.

More restaurants in the county would mean more jobs for the residents, Boyet added. Right now, Lancaster County has 12.7 percent unemployment rate.

“When restaurants come, we might be able to get other retailers in here, too, because we don’t want to just be a restaurant row. And bring jobs to the people unemployed in the county, too, because that’s important,” Boyet said.

Boyet said that she has faced some opposition to the referendum from people who don’t believe alcohol should be consumed on Sundays.

But it’s not about drinking on Sundays, she said.

“We’re not trying to change people’s minds. That’s your opinion and that’s fine. No one is trying to change that. You don’t have to drink on Sunday. No one is forcing anyone to drink. It’s about choice and more restaurants and that leads to other things, jobs, bringing in more businesses to the area,” Boyet said.

“No one is trying to change anyone’s opinion on whether you should have a glass of wine on Sunday or not,” she added. “It’s just economics.”

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