By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Oxford visitors and residents will be able to have a glass of wine with their restaurant brunch or dinner on certain Sundays, starting with Mother’s Day.
Mayor George “Pat” Patterson received notice Monday afternoon that the Mississippi Department of Revenue has approved Oxford’s request to legalize restaurant sales of wine and liquor on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, the Sundays nearest University of Mississippi home football games and, when they fall on Sunday, Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve as well.
City officials, restaurateurs and residents debated for much of last year whether to allow Sunday drink sales after Starkville, Tupelo and several other North Mississippi cities adopted that option.
A task force recommended legalizing restaurant alcohol sales every Sunday, but opposition from some downtown residents and some critics of Oxford’s “culture of alcohol” prompted Patterson to push for the part-time measure instead.
“I think it’s a decent compromise that the town can live with,” he said.
Jerry Jordan, president of the Oxford Restaurant Association and owner of the 208 restaurant just off the Square, responded to the news with delight.
“I’m most pleased that the city fathers undertook the initiative and that the state commission saw the wisdom in our having local control of this issue. It will be most helpful to the restaurants in town,” he said.
The association initially had proposed a similar ordinance, asking that it be used as a test.
“People will inevitably make observations about how well it goes,” Jordan said. “If we can preserve the dignity of Sundays on these designated weekends, I would expect that Sunday sales would be approved in general at some point in time.”
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.