By Sandra Tan
BUFFALO, New York (The Buffalo News) — If you need to make a wine or liquor run before a Sunday afternoon Buffalo Bills game, you won’t have to wait until noon any longer.
Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the bill adopted by the State Legislature that allows liquor stores to open at 10 a.m. instead of noon on Sundays.
The stores can also remain open until 10 p.m., instead of 9 p.m.
“With the extra two hours, that’s huge,” said Tyler Mulone, general manager of Addy’s Fine Wine and Spirits in Amherst. “Once football starts, no one’s out.”
In addition, the state provision barring grocery stores and retailers from selling beer between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Sundays has been repealed. Until now, beer could be sold 24 hours a day, except for Sunday.
It was probably too soon for some liquor stores to suddenly change their staffing plans and opening times last weekend, but they aren’t restricted by state law any longer. The changes are part of a series of laws signed by the governor that are aimed at boosting the alcoholic beverage industry in New York State and relaxing some alcohol sales restrictions that were derided by bill supporters as “antiquated” Prohibition-era “blue laws” that should not burden a growing alcoholic beverage industry.
“Across New York, breweries, distilleries and other alcoholic beverage businesses are creating jobs and expanding economic opportunity,” Hochul said in a statement. “I’m proud to sign this legislation that will modernize the laws governing the sales of alcoholic beverages in New York.”
The ability for liquor stores to open on Sundays has existed in New York State for 20 years, but the hours were limited from noon to 9 p.m.
With NFL football season underway, Mulone and other liquor store managers said they are better able to capitalize on alcohol sales earlier in the day, when people may be out grocery shopping and running other errands.
When Buffalo Bills games start at 1 p.m. Sundays, liquor stores have less than an hour to capitalize on customer traffic because people want to make their purchase and get home before the game starts.
“You have, really, a 30-minute window,” Mulone said.
Jon Notarius, manager for the Premier Wine and Spirits in Amherst, said while the expanded Sunday hours won’t make or break a liquor store, it will be a boost during both Bills season and during the holiday season in November and December.
When the state laws were relaxed to allow groceries and retailers to sell beer as early as 10 a.m. on Sundays, some people wrongly assumed that liquor stores could sell alcohol that early, too, he said.
“It’s definitely something that clears up a lot of confusion with the customers,” Notarius said.
The expanded Sunday liquor store hours are not the only alcohol-related laws signed by Hochul on Saturday.
Other changes will now:
– Expand the validity of a brewer’s license from one year to three years. – Allow liquor stores to sell complementary gift and promotional items related to wine and liquor sales. – Permit restaurants and bars to dispense alcoholic drinks through pressurized mixing and dispensing machines. – Relaxes land restrictions so that manufacturers/wholesalers and retailers can more easily share a liquor license.
A push to have wine sold at grocery stores was rebuffed by the State Legislature.
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