Savannah bars fight to open Sunday before St. Patrick's Day - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Savannah bars fight to open Sunday before St. Patrick's Day

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

For many bars in Savannah, they are used to being closed on Sundays if they don't serve food.

When you add in the biggest celebration of the year, it's a whole new story. Some bar owners are looking ahead and see the green of St. Patrick's Day festivities falling on a Sunday in 2014.

While others will enjoy possibly a four day business boom, they'll be dark lights out with no business the eve of St. Patrick's Day.

Some of the bar owners are hoping to get the city to work with them to come up with a solution, but the bottom line is until the state changes its Sunday sales law for alcohol for bars, the city's hands are most likely tied.

Sean Brandon with the City of Savannah told WTOC they will talk to bar owners as they get ready for the festival.

"We want them to be a part of the conversation and we realize certain parts of this they may not think are fair and certain things we can control and others we can't," Brandon said, "We want to help where ever we can."

"The whole Sundays sales thing doesn't make any sense because, number one, we would like to be open on every Sunday," Melissa "Swanny" Swanson, co-owner of the Rail Pub, told WTOC. "You can buy a keg from a package store on a Sunday but you can't buy a beer from my Rail Pub? My employees have bar cards, are trained. We are responsible."

Melissa Swanson is just one of many bar owners who don't sell food, so they don't open on Sundays. Come St. Patrick's Day weekend and the festival, they'll be open Friday, Saturday and Monday for the day of the parade and celebration but closed on the Sunday in the middle.

Bars like The Rail Pub, Bay Street Blues and others are hoping for a special permit to be able to be open on that Sunday, but the city says state law won't allow it. It's not the city, Brandon says.

Swanson says it may be time for state law to change.

"My main thing is we should be open every Sunday. We should be open on Superbowl Sunday. We would make a lot of money for the city, and from what I understand the way the economy is these days, you'd want as much tax money as you can get in. So my little bar would bring in a lot of money for the city. I can imagine what some of the bigger bars would bring in on St. Patrick's Day or Superbowl Sunday, so it is a revenue thing really," Swanson said.

State Senator Lester Jackson said he'd be in favor of the city allowing a special permit to allow the bars to open on Sunday for St. Patrick's Day festival if they serve food.

If Savannah has a sudden baby boom or 150 people suddenly move here, bars could open on Sundays under state law, as there is a provision written in, at the time for Atlanta, which specifies cities with 400,000 people or more can have bars open on Sundays.

The other option is for lawmakers to push for the law to be changed. There has been some movement in this direction, but Senator Jackson says that will likely not happen this year, if ever.

It may mean revenue, he said, but it also could mean accidents and increased DUI numbers, which he said was a catch-22.

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