New eateries hope to change local liquor rules to offer boozy Sunday meals

Posted at 6:41 AM, Aug 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-05 14:16:49-04

If you cast a ballot in the city of Wyoming this fall, you just might be rewarded with a mimosa or Bloody Mary.

In order to serve up a boozy weekend brunch, the owners of Tela Bar + Kitchen, a Wyoming restaurant, will have to ask voters to approve liquor sales at the restaurant on Sundays.

In some parts of Hamilton County – including the precinct in Wyoming where Tela opened two years ago – liquor laws remain so outdated that restaurants are unable to serve alcohol on Sundays. State laws require local voters to lift rules that keep local districts dry on Sundays. 

L.R. Hunley’s bottomless mimosa dreams were crushed just before he and business partner Doug Nawrocki opened Tela in 2015 when the pair found out their liquor license wouldn’t be valid on Sundays.

“We had to scratch our plan to open with brunch,” Hunley said. “Who wants to go out Sunday and not have a Bloody Mary or mimosa?”

Hunley said the restaurant opted to stay closed on Sundays and, instead, open on Mondays – typically a less attractive day of the week for diners. The owners wanted to take time focusing on opening the restaurant before launching a campaign to change the liquor law. 

After depriving hungry Wyomingites of Sunday brunch for two years, Tela is finally taking the issue to the voters, who must agree to allow the restaurant to serve wine and liquor on that day of the week.

The Tela crew has until Aug. 9 to collect the 280 signatures required to get the issue on the ballot in November. Only those living within Precinct D in Wyoming can offer up their signature. The restaurant is holding a happy hour event Tuesday called “Sign the Petition.” Registered voters living in the district will get discounted drinks during the event.

“I can’t think of another word besides ridiculous,” Hunley said of the process to allow Sunday liquor sales. “All I can do is laugh and try to get it done.”

Owners of The Birch, Terrace Park's only sit-down restaurant, also hope voters in the village will agree: A good meal deserves a good cocktail -- even on Sunday. The Birch opened this spring but the owners have held off on offering a Sunday menu because of the liquor law. Owner Aaron Tritsch estimates the restaurant has missed out on thousands of dollars in Sunday sales since opening. 

"It kind of took us by surprise," she said. 

Tritsch plans to put together a campaign for the issue on social media as well as pass out fliers to diners ahead of the November vote. 

"My hope is that it being a neighborhood spot, we're going to get a lot of people walking up or riding their bikes to enjoy a quick lunch or early dinner ... and a couple of drinks," Tritsch said.  

The Birch in Terrace Park

Wyoming City Manager Lynn Tetley said she believes the precinct where Tela is located is the last one in the city where voters haven’t voted on Sunday liquor sales. The vote could have an impact on more than just one restaurant, as city officials work to lure more restaurants to that location on Springfield Pike.

“We’ve been really focusing on the opportunities for re-development in that area,” Tetley said. “Requests from our residents for additional places to dine out always rise to the top of the list.”

Neither the state nor the Hamilton County Board of Elections keeps track of how many precincts remain dry on Sundays. The elections board checks eligibility for Sunday liquor sales when business owners submit applications to the state.