“They’ll come from Piedmont, from Heflin, from White Plains,” Lee said. “We get a lot of ‘Oh, thank God’s and that kind of stuff.”
Nearly a month-and-a-half after the City Council OK’d Sunday alcohol sales in Anniston, businesses across the Model City say they’re seeing boosts in traffic and revenue.
Terry Paschal, owner of the Wine Cellar on Quintard Avenue, now keeps his store open seven days per week.
“I’m getting more and more people in here as word gets out,” he said of his new Sunday hours.
Although the shopping window is smaller on Sundays — five hours as compared to eight on other days — sales on Sunday are on par with those on regular weekdays, and more customers find their way into his store each Sunday, he said.
The Peerless Grille & Saloon also began opening seven days a week beginning with the first legal Sunday on May 19.
Owner Kristy Farmer said the Peerless saw a large spike in business, particularly the first two Sundays, which has slowed a bit in advance of the Fourth of July holiday. Sunday business equates to what she normally sees on Mondays. The Peerless has maintained six new Sunday employees to accommodate the new business.
For restaurants that were already open on Sundays, the impact has been smaller but noticeable.
Juan Carlos Boyzo, manager of Los Arcos Mexican restaurant on McClellan Boulevard, said he’s seen an increase in business on Sundays, especially in the afternoons. He said the restaurant runs a draft beer special in the afternoons, which it now extends to Sundays. Although he hasn’t seen the numbers on Sunday sales yet, he expects the boost in business to be about 10 percent more than before the beer could flow seven days a week.
At Classic on Noble, owner David Mashburn said that when he last crunched the numbers two weeks ago, sales were up by 20 percent on Sundays.
“The sales of the alcohol has helped, but I feel like it’s pulling people who would not have come,” he said. Before the law change, Mashburn occasionally fielded phone inquiries about alcohol at Sunday brunch, and some customers chose to go elsewhere
Sunday was already one of Classic’s busiest days every week, but since Mashburn has been able to offer champagne and bloody Marys at his popular brunch, “every week it’s a little bit better.” For the past two Sundays, the restaurant has had to call in a second bartender to handle the additional orders.
The Sunday success hasn’t been universal, however. At the Chevron station at Wilmer Avenue and 13th Street, Jay Patel said he tried opening on two Sundays, but he didn’t really see any extra customers. He said since his store is in more of an office district, Sunday traffic wasn’t as good as during the work week.
But across town at the Golden Springs Chevron, increased alcohol sales have rippled out to other merchandise as well.
“It seems like our sales have gone up initially on Sunday with the other things,” Smith said, noting more purchases of soft drinks, cigarettes and gasoline. “It used to be a rather slow day, and now it’s not.”
With the implementation of Sunday sales having such an impact on business, Spirit of Anniston is looking to continue the trend.
Spirit director Dianna Michaels said the city now needs to look at changing policies to allow alcohol on downtown streets.
“I can foresee with really nice weather we would want to encourage restaurants to serve outdoors, cafe style,” she said. With new smoking regulations that force smokers out of bars and restaurants and onto patios or sidewalks, Michaels said the ability to serve alcoholic beverages on patios or on new sidewalk cafes would help downtown establishments.
And beyond the cafes and patios, Michaels sees the opportunity to successfully offer beer or other beverages outdoors at festivals and other downtown events.
Mayor Vaughn Stewart said he’s in favor of such steps. He said he expects such measures to be included in the city’s strategic plan along with other initiatives to improve business all over the city, not just in the downtown district.
“Certainly, Sunday sales is just the beginning,” he said. “I’m enthusiastic about the possibilities.”
Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.