“As soon as we turned on the sign and opened up the doors people started coming in,” said Kristy Farmer, owner of the restaurant. That doesn’t generally happen, she said.
The restaurant usually doesn’t open on Sundays but decided to give it a try after the city of Anniston legalized Sunday alcohol sales, Farmer said. Diners and shoppers across Anniston took advantage Sunday of the first legal opportunity to raise a glass to the new law, approved by the City Council on Tuesday after winning approval to do so from the Legislature this spring.
Farmer advertised specials on bloody marys and other mixed drinks and hired some more staff to cover the extra hours. She believes the rush may be because of the novelty of Sunday sales. But she has confidence that the people will keep coming and as long as they do, the Peerless will stay open on Sundays, she said.
The customers who would talk to a reporter were overwhelmingly supportive of the new law.
Jean Ann and Jerry Oglesby of Anniston came in for lunch just because of the new law and were enjoying a drink with their meals.
“We’re here because we can be,” Jean Ann Oglesby said.
They both applauded the move by the City Council to allow the sales as a revenue generator for local businesses. It will keep Annistonians from going to Birmingham or Atlanta for Sunday brunch, they said.
Anniston resident Kevin Pate, who was enjoying a beer with his lunch one booth down from the Oglesbys, said the availability of the drink did influence where he ate Sunday.
He “probably would have gone to Oxford,” without the new law, Pate said.
Valerie Naylor and Mark Dulkan of North Carolina were not drinking alcohol with their lunch but still thought the decision by the City Council was a good one.
Naylor, who is an independent contractor working on the Coldwater Mountain Bike Trails, said she believes the move would help revitalize the city. She said while Interstate 20 helped Oxford bring in strip malls and big box stores, Anniston with its still-intact historic charm, newly opened downtown brewery the mountain biking trails will bring in tourists who will spend money. A new ordinance to limit public smoking and the Sunday alcohol sales law will both help keep them coming back, Naylor and Dulkan said.
“With the trails, you’ve got mountain bikers coming in and they’re going to want a beer after their ride,” Dulkan said.
Some locals were out on a Sunday just to celebrate the new ordinance.
Jimmie Thompson and Jarred Driggers both of Anniston sat side by side at the Peerless’ bar enjoying drinks with their lunch.
Thompson said he goes out for lunch with his family every Sunday, but today headed to the Peerless with friends so that he could get his mimosa and meal.
“I wanted to come and celebrate,” Thompson said. “To promote this in spirit.”
Driggers said he usually stays home on Sundays and orders pizza. He has a fully-stocked bar, dartboard and television at home, Driggers said. But with the new ordinance, he decided to head to the Peerless for lunch.
“I got up at 11 o’clock on a Sunday morning to come here and have a drink,” Driggers said.
At the Classic on Noble restaurant, the buffet drew a crowd just as it always does, said owner Cathy Mashburn. The restaurant wasn’t advertising alcohol sales, but filling orders if it got one, she said. By 12:30 p.m. only one table had ordered any liquor, she said, adding there were still a couple hours to go before closing.
Next week though, the restaurant will have specials on mimosas and bloody marys at the brunch.
“We wanted to sort of get a feel for it,” Mashburn said.
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.