Wednesday, March 07, 2001

Covington beer debate put on hold

Sunday sales decision April 3

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Sports fans will have to wait until April 3 to learn if they'll be able to buy a beer in a Covington restaurant or bar before a Sunday Reds or Bengals game.

        That's when Covington City Commission expects to decide whether to move Sunday beer sales up two hours — from 1 p.m. to 11 a.m. The proposed change would not apply to sales of wine and mixed drinks, which are regulated by Kentucky law.

        For years, Covington restaurant owners have complained about losing business to Cincinnati bars and restaurants, which can sell beer as early as 5:30 a.m. on Sundays.

        But after hearing 10 business owners and residents express divided opinions at a public hearing Tuesday, city commissioners decided they needed more information before taking a vote.

        Among their questions:

        Could the earlier Sunday beer sales be limited to restaurants that rely on beer sales to draw tourists? Or would the proposed legislation have to include all Covington restaurants, bars and carryouts?

        Also, would the earlier Sunday beer sales pose a threat to the public safety or welfare?

        Joyce Dehner of East 17th Street, thinks it would.

        Ms. Dehner, who said police repeatedly have dealt with young adults who throw beer bottles in her street, said that earlier Sunday beer sales would create more problems for residents. She gave commissioners a petition with signatures of 34 people who oppose the change.

        “Instead of moving (beer sales) up to 11 o'clock, why not do it round the clock and call this Beer City?” Ms. Dehner said. “Anybody that needs a beer at 11 a.m. needs to stay home.”

        But others disagreed.

        Jim Gilliece, owner of Chez Nora's restaurant in Covington's MainStrasse neighborhood, said that he doesn't see how public safety would be compromised if Sunday beer sales were moved up two hours.

        “If we do have problems, they tend to occur on Friday and Saturday nights,” said Mr. Gilliece, who said that earlier Sunday beer sales should be allowed throughout Covington. “I don't see the problem in letting someone have a beer with their brunch on Sundays.”

        “We are not interested in having alcohol free-for-alls before games,” said Kelly Napier of Jack Quinn's Restaurant and Irish Pub. “But we think that to compete evenly with people across the river, we should be able to sell beer with our food before a game.”

        According to city records, Covington's 1 p.m. Sunday beer sales date to 1947, soon after when local governments were given authority to regulate beer sales.


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