POSTED: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 10:19pm
UPDATED: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 6:07pm
Baton Rouge, LA (NBC33) — Word spread quickly Wednesday evening after the East Baton Rouge Metropolitan Council voted to allow bars to open on Sunday and extend sales hours for retailers.
As soon as the vote took place, bar patrons could be heard saying, "'did you hear it passed? Did you hear it passed?'" said Remi Dematteo, general manager of The Bulldog. "Cell phones starting ringing a lot, and there was a lot of excitement."
The decision was especially pleasing for local businessmen.
"We have an opportunity to capture some revenue on a Sunday," Dematteo said. "That's a dream. Especially with the market being as it is right now, the slight downturn, any little bit of revenue helps us all right now. It's really a godsend for us, we're really excited."
At the council meeting, citizens spoke passionately during the public comment section, mostly in favor of the change.
"This is not just about bar owners making a little more profit or the city making a little more tax revenue on alcohol sales alone. This is about being taken seriously as a major city," said Dez Crawford.
Others pointed out the fact that its blue laws put East Baton Rouge on an economic island.
"West Baton Rouge Parish and Ascension Parish, they can sell alcohol on Sunday," said Lucas Kazanis. "And I live in East Baton Rouge Parish and I really feel like it would stimulate the economy."
While residents get increased freedom with the amended law, the biggest beneficiaries are local bars, particularly since Sunday sales will take effect during football season. The New Orleans Saints will play at least eight Sunday games before the season ends.
But it is a result they did not think they would see.
"Tell you the truth, we obviously pay attention to it, and we saw the ebb and flow of how these meetings were going, and I didn't think it was going to happen," Dematteo said. "I just think it says a lot for Baton Rouge that we got this law done and passed, allowing us to generate some revenue and taxes for the citizens of Baton Rouge."
Bars' hours will not be the same on Sunday as every other day of the week, but Dematteo believes closing at midnight could prove to be a good thing.
"Look," he said, "I'm not used to being open on Sunday, anyway. That means I get to get in bed at a decent time."