WESTPORT, Conn. – Patrons of Westport restaurants and bars may be able to order drinks after 11 p.m. on Sundays before federal holidays if the town’s legislative body approves a proposed change to the town's liquor ordinance.
“The whole concept is to allow Westport restaurants to stay open later on the Sunday of a three-day weekend to match what’s going on in communities around us,” said Representative Town Meeting member Matthew Mandell, who submitted the proposal.
Current town law allows restaurants and similar places of business to serve liquor from noon to 11 p.m. on Sundays. The proposal seeks to amend the ordinance to allow these establishments to serve liquor from noon on Sundays to 1 a.m. Monday — but only on Sundays before a federal holiday.
Because restaurants and bars must stop serving food an hour before a bar closes, Mandell said the proposal, if approved, would allow these businesses to not only serve liquor later but serve food later as well.
Mandell, a District 1 representative, said he was prompted to submit the proposed modification after he was contacted by restaurant owners in his district who said they lose business to restaurants in surrounding towns that stay open later on Sundays.
“Our neighboring towns of Norwalk and Fairfield stay open until 1 a.m. on Sundays, so they reap the benefit of Westport's early closing time,” Harry Brady, co-owner of Viva Zapata on Riverside Avenue, wrote in a March letter to Mandell. “It's not just about liquor sales; we lose considerable dinning revenue as well.”
State law allows liquor to be served until 1 a.m. every Monday. Despite this, the restaurant owners who contacted Mandell are rallying for extended hours on Sundays of three-day weekends only, because these Sundays are the equivalent of a Saturday on a normal weekend.
“Holiday weekends are a much needed and anticipated boost in business, especially during these difficult economic times,” Peter Aitkin, owner of the Black Duck Café, wrote in a letter to Mandell.
Westport Police Chief Dale Call, in a recent letter to Mandell, said he does not think a change in the ordinance would hurt the town.
Although the change would directly benefit restaurants, Mandell said it would help the entire community. “I think it’s a win-win for restaurants and for the community, without any adverse impact at all.”
The RTM will discuss and vote on the proposed modification Tuesday at 8 p.m. during a public meeting in the Town Hall auditorium. Residents are welcome to share their opinions on the issue during the meeting.