Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau Explains the “Brunch Bill”
Since many people do not fully understand Senate Bill 298 – commonly referred to as the “Brunch Bill”, we asked Cara Rose, the Director of the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, to explain just what that bill does and does not do, and how it will affect Pocahontas County’s economy.
Cara explains just how the Brunch bill came to be on our local ballot in the upcoming election.
“The ‘Brunch Bill’ is a Tourism bill, it’s an economic bill” said Cara. “The State legislature passed the legislation in the last session and made the referendum available to local votes. So essentially what that means is the State did not pass the law as a blanket law. Across the state, each individual county has the ability to put the “Brunch bill” –Senate Bill 298 –on the ballot and voters can then choose whether they want to implement this change in the Sunday alcohol purchase time.”
Cara explains the direct economic impact of the “Brunch Bill” would have for the employees of the restaurants which would be allowed to extend their Sunday alcohol hours into the brunch time if the bill passes..
“We have a lot of guests who are travelling from metropolitan and urban areas and they are very accustomed to going out for Sunday brunch” said Cara. “So this is an amenity that our guests are asking for. It will generate additional economic impact. It will generate dollars to restaurants, it will equate to higher wages for restaurant servers in not only hourly wages, but also tips as well.”
Cara points out that the “Brunch Bill” only involves adding 3 extra hours on Sundays only that restaurants can serve alcohol.
“The Brunch Bill does only affect Sunday hours” said Cara. “Currently, restaurants in West Virginia –and specifically in Pocahontas County –can serve alcohol in their restaurants to their guests beginning at one p.m. All other days of the week, restaurants can serve alcohol beginning at 7 a.m. So this bill will permit restaurants only –not convenience stores or other retail operations- to begin serving light alcoholic beverages beginning at 10 a.m. –what would be the traditional Sunday brunch time period.”
Cara explains how important tourism is to Pocahontas County’s economy.
Pocahontas County’s primary driver is tourism today” Cara says. “I think it is important that people understand just how much tourism affects the economy. If people will think back not even a year ago, in December, when we didn’t have any snow. Skiers were not travelling through our communities. Typically on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday, in the Town of Marlinton, if you stopped by the IGA grocery store, the parking lot’s full. Some of those are going to be local customers, but a huge portion of those customers are going to be visitors –skiers in particular going to snowshoe. This past winter, if you stopped by the IGA the parking lot was empty. Some people may not even attach the grocery store to the tourism industry, but in fact they are greatly impacted by the tourism industry. People need to understand that it is not just lodging facilities that make up the tourism industry. It’s not just an attraction like Cass Scenic Railroad who see visitors. It’s not just Snowshoe Mountain Resort; it is every single business in Pocahontas County. It is a big impact to our community, so I point out these things because it is important that we do everything we possibly can to enhance our tourism product. And the ‘Brunch Bill’ does do that. It’s not just snowshoe Mountain Resort restaurants either, a number of restaurants around the County could benefit from the passing of the ‘Brunch Bill’.”
Cara said she has heard people worry that tourists drinking alcohol on Sunday mornings could cause drunk driving accidents, but Cara pointed out we see hardly any of that on the other six days when alcohol is served beginning at 7 a.m., and it is unusual for people to over use alcohol during brunch.