County may allow alcohol sales earlier on Sundays

OKEECHOBEE — Want to enjoy a Mimosa with Sunday brunch? At the Nov. 26 meeting, Okeechobee County Commissioners appeared to favor allowing restaurants to serve alcoholic beverages earlier on Sundays.

An ordinance to allow on-premises consumption of alcohol in restaurants after 10 a.m. on Sunday will be advertised for public hearings.

Community Development Director Bill Royce explained state statute sets hours of operation for cities and counties that do not set their own.

He said Okeechobee County, years ago, established their own hours. Currently bars can stay open until 2 a.m. Sunday, and then alcohol sales resume at 1 p.m.

He said OK Corral has weekend brunches and would like to sell traditional cocktails such as Mimosas and Bloody Marys at the brunch, starting at 10 a.m.

“Retail sales is a little different than what is served at a brunch,” said Commissioner Bryant Culpepper.

“Personally, I feel this should be allowed. I think a couple hours is inconsequential in this case.”

Commissioner Brad Goodbread said other restaurant owners he spoke to would also like to be able to serve alcoholic beverages with Sunday brunch or lunch.

“Right now they open at noon or 1 p.m. on Sunday for that reason,” he said. “They would be able to open a little earlier. They would get more of a lunch crowd, if they were able to open at 11 a.m.”

Commissioner Kelly Owens noted restaurants within the city limits would not be included in the county ordinance. The City of Okeechobee has it’s own ordinance in regard to alcohol sales within the city limits.

Commission Chair Terry Burroughs said in surrounding areas, over on the coast, the restaurants can sell alcoholic beverages at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m.

“I don’t have a problem with moving forward with ordinance to allow restaurants to open and serve, but package stores need to stay where it is,” he said.

Commissioner David Hazellief noted the ordinance change will be advertised for public hearings. He said the public will have a chance to express their support or opposition to the change before the commission votes on the proposed change.

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