OXFORD – The president of the Oxford Restaurant Association said the city’s prohibition on all Sunday alcohol sales is costing both tax revenue and the chance to have a more competitive tourism industry.
Jerry Jordan, owner of “208,” proposed an experimental process to test whether restaurants can serve alcohol with meals while retaining “the dignity that characterizes Sundays in Oxford.”
Jordan said restaurants – and the city’s tourism industry as a whole – are at a competitive disadvantage to Tupelo, Starkville and several other towns that have legalized Sunday alcohol sales.
“It is not viable for our restaurants to be open without their full food and beverage menu. We wonder why our Convention Center is in the red, but we are not doing what other cities in Mississippi are doing to promote tourism,” he said.
The restaurateurs’ proposal starts with petitioning Mississippi Alcoholic Beverage Control to allow Sunday sales during limited hours this year on July 4 and all University of Mississippi home football game weekends.
Next, the city would seek a local-and-private state law granting Oxford more control over alcohol sales, similar to one in Flowood.
A final step would be adoption of new ordinances to limit Sunday alcohol sale hours to 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and to require at least 60 percent of restaurants’ sales to come from food.
Fearing an up-or-down vote by aldermen on Tuesday might result in the same rejection that Sunday sales have gotten in the past, Jordan asked that a public hearing on the issue be announced for the next meeting.
Mayor Pat Patterson, who has often publicly opposed Sunday alcohol sales, seemed to have several of his concerns answered.
“We’re certainly solidly on legal ground to go to ABC” with the request, he said. “We’ll discuss it and take a vote of this board.”
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal