By Timothy Boone
Advocate business writer
November 02, 2012
Local bar owners applauded a vote by the Metro Council to relax blue laws and allow bars to open Sundays.
“We are going to open on Sundays as soon as we are allowed to,” said Remi DeMatteo, general manager of The Bulldog, a Southdowns beer bar.
DeMatteo said he plans to hire up to 10 more employees to work behind the bar and in the kitchen to cover Sunday shifts.
The Bulldog’s three sister bars in metro New Orleans are open Sundays, and DeMatteo said those taverns do “really, really well” because of people looking for a place to watch Saints games and have a drink.
“We think we should do a little more business than the New Orleans locations, because this is the biggest bar out of all of them,” he said.
Ariana Burr and her husband, Bunker, who were at the Bulldog for happy hour Thursday, said they were pleased bars will be able to open on Sundays soon.
The couple, who come from New York and Boston, moved to Baton Rouge about two years ago.
“It seems a little odd that bars couldn’t open on Sundays. Of course, it seems a little odd that you can buy vodka at Target,” she said. “It’s 2013.”
Burr said because she works in retail and her husband works in the restaurant industry, they rarely have Sundays off, so they like to go out on their free days.
“It seems like the only place that’s open on Sundays is Mug Shots, where he works,” Burr said. “And you don’t want to go on your day off to a place where you work.”
The Metro Council voted Wednesday to allow bars to serve alcohol between 11 a.m. and midnight on Sundays. Under the old law, bars could only be open on certain Sundays, such as the Super Bowl or when New Year’s Eve fell on that day. Restaurants that made more than half of their gross monthly revenue from food sales were allowed to sell alcohol after 11 a.m. on Sundays.
The new law will take effect once Mayor-President Kip Holden signs the bill. If 12 days passes without his signature it automatically becomes law.
Asked if the mayor planned to sign off on the law change early, Scott Dyer, an aide to the Mayor’s Office, said it generally takes a few days for the council administrator’s office to get the documents ready for the mayor’s signature.
“We will let you know when he signs it,” Dyer said.
Patrick Fewell, general manager of Big Heads Tavern on Millerville Road, said the change in the law will allow his bar to better compete with chains such as Hooters and Buffalo Wild Wings.
“That’s the big thing, for NFL games people had to go to those places instead of their local tavern,” Fewell said. “We’re very, very happy about this.”
Marc Fraioli, who owns Fred’s, a Tigerland bar, said he plans to open on Sundays but doesn’t expect the day to be “big cash-wise” other than for holiday weekends or spillover from LSU baseball games.
He said most of the LSU students who make up the clientele at Fred’s are spending their Sundays catching up on classwork. “I think it will be more laid back, with people coming in and hanging out on the patio, enjoying the view out there,” he said. “There won’t be much wildness.”
Fraioli, who said he normally spends Sundays doing payroll and placing orders at the bar, said he expects most bar owners to test the waters and try opening on Sundays. But he said some bars may find they don’t draw viable business that day. “When we open for the Super Bowl, we don’t do gangbuster business,” he said.
Angel Vance, bartender/manager at Herson’s Private Club, said she expects her MidCity bar will do good business on Sundays and plans to offer drink specials along with pro football games. “Watching a game at home is one thing, but watching it with a bunch of people at a bar is another,” she said.
Chris Cranford, director of the East Baton Rouge Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control, said he doesn’t know when Holden will sign the law. Cranford said mid-Thursday afternoon he hadn’t received the first call from a bar owner asking for clarification about the change.
Advocate staff writer
Rebekah Allen contributed
to this article.