Voters approve Sunday alcohol sales

Retired school teacher Phyllis Elder doesn't care about going to a York County restaurant for a Sunday afternoon cocktail.

But she has friends who do, and that's why she voted yes for countywide Sunday alcohol sales for restaurants.

“I voted yes for our local restaurants who could use a little help with their Sunday business,” said Elder, who lives in Fort Mill. “And with this downturn in the economy, why not help our local businesses?”

Backers of Sunday sales say voters like Elder were a big reason why the referendum won with a whopping 63 percent to 37 percent in complete, unofficial vote totals late Tuesday night.

Sunday sales of beer and wine in Tega Cay convenience stores and groceries was also approved by a margin of 81 percent to 19 percent in a separate vote.

“I think that a big reason the (York) referendum was successful is because voters saw this in economic terms for York County instead of some kind of morality vote,” said David Mathein, co-owner of T-Bones on the Lake on Lake Wylie. He says his establishment has lost sales on Sundays to Mecklenburg County restaurants since T-Bones opened in 1994.

“We're open seven days a week and not being able to serve alcohol on Sunday really ate into our food sales, particularly during the summer and on NFL game days,” he said.

Another help for Tuesday's alcohol vote came in the 2006 election, when Rock Hill voters approved Sunday alcohol sales by a 61 percent margin, said Chet Miller.

He co-chairs the Citizens & Business for York County Committee, which helped promote Sunday sales.

“There was no increase in alcohol-related problems when Rock Hill restaurants started selling alcohol on Sunday,” said Miller.

“What happened is that overall Sunday sales of alcohol and food went up, but the percentage of alcohol sales remained fairly constant around 15 percent.”

Miller predicts Sunday alcohol sales will increase food and beverage sales at existing York County restaurants by 12 percent, or $1.5 million in new revenue.

It also means, he says, more in sales tax revenues. Sunday restaurant alcohol sales could begin as early as Nov. 23.

Mathein already has his plans made. He's hoping for sunny weather so he can seat up to 165 customers on his deck overlooking Lake Wylie or inside by the bar when the Panthers play the Falcons at 1 p.m.