This weekend, for the first time in over eighty years, New Yorkers can drink before noon at Sunday brunch. On Tuesday, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York State would overhaul “archaic blue laws" that had banned the sale of alcohol on Sunday mornings since 1934. Starting this weekend, New York City’s restaurants and bars can start serving booze at 10 a.m. on Sundays, a stark change from the restrictions that prevented sale of any alcohol between 4 a.m. and noon on Sundays. The rules are slightly different for businesses in the rest of the state, which are now allowed to serve alcohol as early as 8 a.m.
The change is welcome news to weekend brunch aficionados in New York City, so much so that the new law has been commonly referred as New York’s “brunch bill.” But the updated liquor laws are good for restaurateurs and waiters who work brunch, too. According to Governor Cuomo, the change in regulations is meant to, “roll back burdensome regulations to help New York's craft beverage industry thrive and create jobs,” as well as remove “artificial barriers for restaurants and small businesses” that have previously prevented otherwise profitable alcohol sales. As Nicolas Lorentz, the general manager of Manhattan's Lafayette, told the New York Post, “The brunch crowd is a drinking crowd. This is helpful to any brunch restaurant in New York City.”
New York isn’t the only state that has hung onto Prohibition-era blue laws for decades. Restaurants and bars in Arkansas, for example, cannot serve alcohol until 1 p.m. on Sundays. Minnesota also prohibits the sale of alcohol in all of the state’s liquor stores on Sunday; as recently as 2015, an attempt to change Minnesota’s strict liquor laws was foiled by the state government.
Hopefully for the thirsty brunchers in those states, this modernization of weekend liquor laws in New York will convince these other state governments that getting drunk on a Sunday can sometimes, in fact, be a good thing.