After a long and winding journey through the statehouse and city hall, Sunday brunch is finally coming to Charleston this weekend!
Generally, no alcohol may be sold in West Virginia before 1 pm on Sundays, a law that has been on the books for a least a handful of decades. However, this year, the legislature changed the law allowing Sunday alcohol sales by restaurants and other establishments to begin at 10 am. For two years, the restaurant and hospitality community had been making the case how much of a boon Sunday brunch would mean to their industry, especially in border counties and tourist destinations. As a compromise, the bill passed allowed each county to hold a local election to determine if on-premises alcohol consumption would be allowed as early as 10 am on Sundays. However, many municipalities, anxious to begin allowing establishments to serve alcohol at brunch on Sunday mornings, elected to not wait until the November election for the ballot measure, but to exercise their ability through municipal home rule to make local laws allowing for Sunday brunch. One by one, beginning this summer, cities across the state began sanctioning Sunday brunch.
The Charleston City Council proposal made its way through the municipal lawmaking process over the past couple weeks, and beginning August 6th, Charleston restaurants can serve alcohol to brunch patrons beginning at 10 am.
The Charleston restaurant scene couldn’t be happier to welcome Sunday brunch patrons. Every place you’d imagine would offer brunch is coming up with delectable breakfast specials and their own twist on accompanying beverages. And even some places you’d never guess would participate–like the Cold Spot. I kinda want to go there to check out their brunch out of curiosity.
The Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau has a page on their Facebook page called “Let’s Do Brunch” with a round-up of all the local establishments participating, and their specials. Now the hardest part is deciding where to go this Sunday.
I mentioned the Cold Spot. Their brunch special is wings, waffles and omlettes. Of course. Their wings are pretty solid.
Also in the category of gritty locals bars, Sam’s Uptown is bringing their A-game for Sunday brunch with a number of specials including bread pudding with braised pork belly, shrimp and grits and chicken and waffles, along with the usual breakfast choices like eggs, bacon and sausage. Each entree is $15, which also includes a choice of one Bloody Mary, mimosa or craft beer. If you follow them on Facebook and saw their Saturday brunch pics from last weekend, you know the food is legit.
If pizza is your thing, Lola’s is jumping in the brunch game with breakfast pizzas and drink specials.
Local favorite, Black Sheep Burrito, will feature organic blue corn johnny cakes with orange blossom whipped butter and choice of bacon or sausage. Black Sheep Burrito will also have $2 mimosas, bellinis and poinsettas.
Perhaps the most ardent supporter of Sunday brunch at the statehouse and the owner of Bluegrass Kitchen, Keeley Steele, plans to embrace Sunday brunch and add to the already-successful Saturday brunch at the establishment. Bluegrass will offer live music by the Carpenter Ants, a make-your-own mimosa station, and happy hour prices all day long.
Some surprising restaurants are getting in the brunch game like Little India and Su Tei. I don’t think of these places as having breakfast-y foods, but that’s not stopping them. Both will open at noon and offer specials. Su Tei will feature Singapore noodles and special sushi rolls.
Suffice it to say there are an abundance of Sunday brunch options. The economic impact to the communities that the proponents of the “brunch” bill touted are already being examined. West Virginia State University just completed an economic impact study that put the projected impact far above what anyone expected when the bill was being debated at the statehouse. I have no doubt local businesses will see a marked bump from what boils down to an extra three hours of alcohol sales one day out of the week, simply because the restaurant community in Charleston has so much support. Restaurants are already talking about having more servers scheduled on Sunday, even after brunch ends, simply to accommodate the additional butts in seats on Sunday as a result of brunch. Some are even talking about hiring more servers. This is great news. People are really excited about Sunday brunch. I expect the interest in Sunday brunch to continue through the fall, and hopefully into the holiday season. And let’s face it, our state has seen its share of recent economic set-backs, particularly south of the gasfields in the north-central part of the state. If there’s something out there that can bring a few more tourism and hospitality dollars into our local economy, let’s do it!
There was a great write-up in the Gazette by Elaina Sauber, detailing some of the local specials, what other municipalities are doing to bring Sunday brunch to their towns, and some interesting history of brunch.