STILLWATER, Okla. —
Before voters in Stillwater’s Payne County voted last year to let restaurants and bars serve liquor by the drink on Sundays, several restaurants passed up an opportunity to set up shop there.
It’s a common line told by supporters of both that liquor law and a similar proposal on Garfield County’s ballot Tuesday.
Stillwater’s economic development director said the city has received several second looks since the Sunday liquor ordinance passed. But in the 11 months since the law passed, just one of those businesses has made significant advances toward opening.
“Hopefully, in the spring we’re going to have another bar-grill open up that really wasn’t interested until that law was changed,” said Angela McLaughlin.
She declined to name that business, but said a deal to acquire a building is nearing completion.
“We’ve attracted a lot of people without that change, but we continue to grow,” McLaughlin said. “If they’re looking at 15 different communities and you’re the only community that doesn’t serve alcohol on Sunday, you can be taken off that list pretty easily. That’s the nature of the game.”
Garfield County’s new ordinance would allow liquor-by-the-drink sales during certain hours on Sundays. It also allows liquor sales on Memorial Day, Labor Day and the Fourth of July.
Some churches and religious officials in Enid are opposed to the law and are pushing for its defeat. One church, Gospel Light Baptist, made its stance known on its marquee. Its pastor could not be reached Thursday. Other opponents contend that alcohol-related crime like DUIs could increase.
A spokesman with Stillwater Police Department declined to discuss the matter, because there was no data available to show whether there was an increase in crime attributable to the change of law. McLaughlin, though, said she hasn’t seen any of those predictions come true.
“We need to remember that if somebody really wants to go get intoxicated, they can go into Walmart and buy a 24-pack of beer, take it home and get well on their way without going into a restaurant,” she said.