Karen Bremer Headshot

Karen Bremer, Exec. Director Georgia Restaurant Association

Georgia has been touted as the number one state to do business. A thriving restaurant industry will continue to provide jobs for thousands of Georgians, generate tax revenue for the state and allow Georgia to stay economically competitive. Yet, sometimes our laws and regulations hinder Georgia’s economic success. In the state of Georgia, state-owned facilities such as the Georgia World Congress Center, Lake Lanier Islands, golf courses and many other private clubs are allowed to sell alcohol at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays, while restaurants are forced to wait until 12:30 p.m. The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) is fighting to level the playing for all businesses.

House Bill 535, also known as the Brunch Bill, would allow for municipalities to opt in to permit their restaurants to start serving alcohol at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. With earlier alcohol sales on Sundays, restaurants will have higher food and beverage sales, generating more tax revenue and more jobs. In Georgia, there are over 17,000 restaurants and over 10,000 full-service restaurants in the Atlanta area. The additional 2 hours of alcohol sales on Sundays would generate increased sales of an average of $480.00 per restaurant, or an extra guest count of 40 customers at a customer average of $12.00 per person. This would mean an additional $25,000 in sales in a year. 4,000 restaurants in the state would greatly benefit from the passing of this bill, generating $100 million in additional revenue for the two hours. At an 11% tax rate, this would mean $11 million in added tax revenue for the state. Industry labor costs are traditionally 30% of gross revenue, so restaurants have the potential to create an extra $30 million in payroll revenue on which state income tax is paid. These changes will help drive jobs, tourism and economic growth in our state. Furthermore, Georgia is failing to compete with surrounding states that serve at earlier times on Sundays, taking away valuable tourism revenue from our state.

HB 535 was introduced during the 2015 legislative session and was the fastest bill to make it through the legislative process in a record three days. The GRA worked closely with state representatives, particularly Representative Brett Harrell, to support and sponsor the bill. However the bill was halted in the Senate Rules Committee and therefore wasn’t allowed to be voted on the floor. The bill was recommitted in the Senate for the 2016 legislative session and is now in the Senate Rules and Regulated Industries Committees.

Unfortunately, there is one Senator that is blocking the vote from happening. He made a pact to halt any additional legislation regarding earlier alcohol sales in the state. He is “strongly against House Bill 535” he states, “the restaurant industry does not need more revenue. The industry is doing fine without this bill.” Out of the over 17,000 restaurants in Georgia, 12,000 of them are considered small businesses. Our elected officials ran on a platform vowing to protect small businesses, yet their actions may show that their interests are elsewhere.

Georgia’s restaurants and farm wineries need your help leveling the playing field, as the Brunch Bill is close to the finish line. We urge you to contact powerful legislators to help

the bill be voted on. We have written letters for people to send to elected officials, but we encourage people to write their own versions. The letters can be found at http://p2a.co/CbrqwAc. Once the Brunch Bill is voted on and passed, local communities can decide to allow their restaurants to serve alcoholic drinks and farm wineries to serve wine on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. Business should have the freedom to decide when they will offer their products to consumers, and customers should have the right to choose if they would like to consume alcohol earlier on Sundays. Also, feel free to share our campaign on social media using the hashtag #GABrunchBill to gain more awareness across the state.

As the nation’s second-largest private sector employer, legislation that positively impacts the foodservice industry will have a positive economic impact. Passing HB 535 would be an important step for restaurants and small businesses in Georgia and it would continue to make Georgia a state where small businesses can thrive. Show your support and let’s band our voices together to be heard.

For additional questions or information about how you can help, contact the GRA at 404.467.9000 or info@garestaurants.org.


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