A coalition of downtown Dayton businesses and the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce are putting together a campaign to urge voters in one downtown precinct to allow bars and restaurants in that precinct to start serving alcohol at 10 a.m. instead of 11 a.m. on Sundays.
The issue — which supporters have dubbed the “brunch bill,” and which will appear as Local Issue 11 on the ballot — will be decided by voters in Precinct 1-B in downtown Dayton. There are about 1,100 registered voters in precinct 1-B, which includes the business strip of the Oregon District on East Fifth Street as well as the area around the Cannery and part of the Water Street development. It does not include the residential neighborhood just south of the Oregon District strip on East Fifth Street, which is part of another precinct.
“The pendulum for downtown Dayton is on the upswing right now, and we want to keep that momentum going,” said Chris Kershner, vice president of public policy and economic development for the Dayton chamber.
Kershner said several downtown Dayton restaurants approached chamber officials about seeking the change, and the chamber spearheaded the petition drive to place the issue on the fall ballot. A “yes” vote will allow the one-hour-earlier start time only at those alcohol-permit holders in precinct 1-B, and would have no impact on other restaurants and bars outside of the precinct.
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Kershner said supporters are concerned about the ballot language as written by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, because it doesn’t make clear that a “yes” vote would simply move the start time for Sunday alcohol sales from the current 11 a.m. state-mandated start time to 10 a.m. Some voters may read the language and think the measure would allow Sunday alcohol sales for the first time, Kershner said.
Here’s how Issue 11 will appear on the ballot of voters in precinct 1-B:
“Shall the sale of intoxicating liquor, of the same type as may be legally sold in this precinct on other days of the week, be permitted in this Dayton 1-B Precinct for consumption on premises where sold between the hours of 10 a.m. and midnight on Sunday?”
The “vote yes” campaign will focus on education rather than advocacy, Kershner said, to make sure voters know a “yes” vote simply allows for the one-hour-earlier start time on Sundays.
Steve Tieber, owner of the Dublin Pub at East Fifth Street and Wayne Avenue, said Sunday sales are important to his restaurant and to many other alcohol-permit holders in downtown Dayton.
“Sunday is our third-busiest day,” behind only Friday and Saturday, Tieber said of the Dublin Pub. And most of the pub’s Sunday sales are related to its brunch service.
Restaurant owners told chamber officials it is frustrating to be forced to refuse customer orders of brunch cocktails such as Bloody Marys and mimosas during what for some is the first hour of their brunch service. The change will give restaurants more flexibility, boost sales and ultimately create and preserve jobs, Tieber said.
The precinct has about 1,100 voters. Kershner and Tieber are helping to put together a grass-roots campaign led by retailers and other “brunch bill” coalition members, which number about 20 and include the Downtown Dayton Partnership and the chamber.
“We’ll do mailings, yard signs, banners — anything to get the word out,” Kershner said.