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Westport Makes Change to Sunday Liquor Rules

WESTPORT, Conn. – Beginning Labor Day weekend, Westport residents won’t have to go to out of town to enjoy late-night drinks on the Sunday before a federal holiday. The town’s legislative body Tuesday night approved a proposal to extend the hours restaurants can serve liquor on select Sundays.

The town’s liquor ordinance allows restaurants to serve alcohol from noon to 11 p.m. Sundays. The modification will extend liquor service until 1 a.m. the following Monday, but only when that Monday is a federal holiday. The change was approved by the Representative Town Meeting in a 26-2 vote.

“This helps our restaurants and it helps our community enjoy the restaurants that we have in town," RTM member Matthew Mandell, who submitted the proposal, told his colleagues.

The approved modification will also apply to Sundays before Independence Day when it falls on a Tuesday.

Mandell said he was contacted by several restaurateurs who said they lose business to restaurants in surrounding towns that follow state liquor times. State law allows liquor to be served from 11 a.m. Sunday to 1 a.m. Monday.

“They explained that people were not coming to their restaurants on [Sundays before holidays], or were leaving earlier to frequent a Fairfield or Norwalk establishment," he said.

Although there wasn’t much discussion, RTM member Richard Lowenstein, one of the two dissenting voters, questioned the appropriateness of applying this change to all Sundays before federal holidays.

For example, Lowenstein said he does not think it’s appropriate to allow restaurants to serve liquor until 1 a.m. on Christmas when it falls on a Monday. In response, Mandell said most, if not all, businesses close early on Christmas Eve, therefore, said "it's a nonissue."

After the meeting, Harry Brady and Bill O'Mahony, co-owners of Viva Zapata on Riverside Avenue, said they were pleased the town approved the change.

“Just last Sunday [Memorial Day], people were shocked when we told them we were closing at 11 p.m.,” said Brady. “This will absolutely help our business and all other restaurants in town.”

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