Brunch Bill boosts biz

Harvest Moon Cafe on Broad Street is using social media to get the word out about being able to serve alcoholic drinks during Sunday brunch at 11 a.m. for the first time Sunday in its Dark Side Bar with the passage of the Brunch Bill Referendum in Rome during the recent city election.

Harvest Moon Cafe on Broad Street declared “Prohibition is OVER!” on its Facebook page Friday as it invited customers to come by Sunday for a crafted bloody mary or bottomless mimosas during its Sunday Brunch “as early as 11 a.m.!”

“This should be a great thing for downtown Rome,” Harvest Moon General Manager Steve Smith said Friday. “We’re certainly very optimistic about it boosting business. We’ve been preparing our Dark Side Bar for a couple of months now.”

Rome voters approved the “Brunch Bill” referendum by a 65.39% margin in the recent city election, allowing establishments to begin serving drinks on Sundays at 11 a.m. — instead of waiting until 12:30 p.m.

The measure will take effect this Sunday.

Support for the bill was strongest in Town Rome with 78.8% of voters in that precinct giving it a thumbs up. It had the least amount of enthusiasm in Mt. Alto North, where 55.8% of voters approved.

The referendum was born out of legislation by the Georgia General Assembly in March of last year, allowing local communities to decide through local elections whether to push back pour times by 90 minutes on Sundays. The law does not apply to liquor stores or other package sales.

Although many local business owners were lukewarm on the bill when the idea was first introduced, doubting it would significantly increase traffic for them, Smith has a different attitude.

“The Georgia Restaurant Association has stated restaurants can expect as much as $25,000 annually in sales as a result,” Smith said. “We had very, very low alcoholic beverage sales on Sundays altogether, but have noticed that with the opening up of the Dark Side Bar, we’ve seen an uptick in sales after 12:30.

“We think that’s only going to continue to improve with the new start time since we’ll be getting the brunch crowd that appreciates a good bloody mary or mimosa or even Irish coffee. Before when we couldn’t sell until 12:30, most folks already had moved on to someplace else.”

Smith also believes tourists coming to Rome for various events will especially appreciate the kind of Sunday brunch they are used to in their home towns.

“Many people coming from out of town were shocked to find out they couldn’t have a drink during brunch until basically brunch was over,” he said. “We’re within walking distance of the Marriott and Hawthorne Suites, so we’re excited to be able to capture that crowd that’s maybe in Rome for tennis tournaments or whatnot.”

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