Included on the Presidential Preferential Primary Ballot for the March 3 election is a proposition that will enable residents in, and visitors to, Payne County the ability to order alcoholic beverages in restaurants and bars 365 days a year.
The state of Oklahoma has been among the most restrictive alcohol laws in the nation. On November 8, 2016 Oklahomans overwhelmingly approved State Question 792, which set into motion the modernization of state liquor laws that went into effect beginning October 1, 2018. The result of the state-wide changes created some unanticipated challenges for restaurants and bars on a county-by-county basis.
Prior to October 1, 2018, Payne County based restaurants and bars could not sell high-point beer and alcohol on Memorial Day (or, Declaration Day), 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. However, they could sell 3.2 beer on those holidays.
Now that there is no longer 3.2 beer in Oklahoma, Payne County based restaurants and bars cannot sell any alcoholic beverages on those five holidays, yet individuals can purchase alcohol in liquor or grocery stores.
Data from the Oklahoma ABLE Commission website indicates of the 77 Oklahoma counties, only 17 continue to have no sales on Sunday and only 19 continue to have no sales on specified holidays. Payne County is among the most restrictive by naming 5 holidays when several of the other counties name only one or two holidays.
Payne County restaurants and bars are currently at a disadvantage because their business is restricted 5 days out of the year. Payne County residents and visitors are also prohibited from their choice to order an alcoholic beverage with their lunch or dinner, which can certainly be challenging to explain to residents and visitors alike.
The progressive communities located within Payne County should enable their local dining and entertainment establishments the ability to conduct business in the same manner 365 days of the year. It is beneficial to economic expenditures and growth to provide residents reasons to keep local dollars within our Payne County communities, and give visitors incentive to spend more money while in our community.
In 2012, Visit Stillwater and local restaurant representatives and developers lead the initiative to modernize Payne County laws to enable restaurants and bars the ability to sell liquor and wine on Sundays – in addition to low point beer available at that time.
Now, local restaurants, bars, and Visit Stillwater urge voters to support the further modernization of Payne County liquor laws by voting “Yes” early on Thursday, February 27 or Friday, February 28 from 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., Saturday, February 29 from 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. or at your polling location on Tuesday, March 3 from 7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
For the most current and up-to-date information in regard to the Stillwater hospitality industry, go to VisitStillwaterOK.org, “Like” Visit Stillwater on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @VisitStillwater. You may even win one of our online contests throughout the year.