The Peerless Saloon & Grille, which currently closes on Sunday, is already set to open in time for the first legal Sunday — and with the works.
Owner Kristy Farmer said patrons who come to the Peerless for brunch this Sunday can enjoy a bloody mary, mimosa and screwdriver bar beginning at 11 a.m., when on-premises sales are allowed to begin under the new law. Both the grille and saloon sides of the establishment will remain open until midnight.
Beginning this weekend, the Peerless will offer live music in the Saloon at 2 p.m., with Keitha Williams playing the inaugural Sunday afternoon show.
Previously, Farmer has opened on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Super Bowl Sunday, but for the long-term, she’s hiring at least six new employees to keep the Peerless open an extra day.
Farmer said she’s not sure how much Sunday alcohol sales will affect revenue or draw in out-of-town customers.
“I guess we’ll know after Sunday,” she said. “I think you’re going to see it more from locals than you will from people driving in.”
In other Alabama cities that have legalized Sunday alcohol sales, restaurants have seen an initial spike in business that eventually slows after the newness of the measure wears off, said Larry Fidel, president of the Alabama Restaurant Association.
“It will have an impact immediately because it’s like the new toy on the block,” he said. The boost in business, he added, should continue as average sales are likely to increase on Sunday, which is generally the third-highest sales day for restaurants after the weekend rush on Friday and Saturday.
Dianna Michaels, the executive director of Spirit of Anniston, said the measure not only gives local businesses an extra day of revenue, but “it gives the Spirit of Anniston, the board of directors and those working on our behalf that extra tool in the tool box that isn’t offered within a certain radius” as they work to recruit new businesses to town.
Many restaurant owners were caught by surprise at how quickly the Sunday sales measures came into effect: The City Council approved the measure two weeks after Gov. Robert Bentley signed enabling legislation into law.
Mayor Vaughn Stewart said the members of the City Council didn’t need to spend much time negotiating the specifics of the ordinance, and City Attorney Bruce Downey was able to draft it much sooner than the council expected.
Owners at the Victoria Restaurant, Thai One On, Damn Yankees and Lil’ Dixie’s all say they are considering opening their restaurants on future Sundays but couldn’t make arrangements quickly enough for this first weekend.
“We definitely have to get staff first,” said chef Sam Sutchaleo, who owns Thai One On with his wife Patty. “We’re already working seven days a week.”
Kristen Dulaney, owner of Lil’ Dixie’s Cue & Grill on Noble Street, said she plans to add Sunday hours beginning next week, offering an afternoon darts tournament and possible Sunday specials to draw in customers.
The Victoria Restaurant currently operates a champagne brunch on Saturday, which chef and owner Alan Martin said he may extend to Sunday.
“We would definitely look at that as an opportunity,” he said. Martin said that add-ons — items like appetizers, desserts and beverages added to a meal — typically drive revenue increases for restaurants. Selling alcohol on Sundays offers a larger pool of revenue for those who choose to open.
“I think it’s a good thing for business, and it’ll be a good thing for the Anniston economy,” he said, “because if it’s exclusive to Anniston in this area, people will come.”
Staff Writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.