Westchester Not Yet Full on Cuomo's Brunch Bill

Earlier this month, New York State passed legislation that does away with a Prohibition-era blue law banning restaurants and bars from serving alcohol before noon on Sundays, in addition to relaxing burdensome fees and regulations on alchohol retailers and manufacturers. The overarching intent behind Governor Cuomo’s so-called “Brunch Bill” was to modernize our nearly century-old Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Law and further support one of the state’s booming economic sectors.

None of which means the legislation has translated to an immediate, dramatic sales boost for brunch-serving eateries here in Westchester. Robert Gaurino, CEO of 5 Napkin Burger, which has a location within Yonkers’ Ridge Hill mall, remarks that the bill “does not have a huge impact on our business.” Part of this has to do with the fact that 5 Napkin had already been serving brunch at 11 am, meaning there was only one hour during which they couldn’t sell alcohol. Still, Guarino concedes, “The new law certainly makes more sense,” before cannily adding, “We are pleased that we will be able to offer our Sunday morning guests their signature 5 Napkin Bloody Mary or mimosas between 11 and noon the same way we do all of the other days and times we are open.”

There were already more than enough reasons to hit 5 Napkin for Sunday brunch.

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Photo courtesy of 5 Napkin burger

The same can be said for many other brunch spots in the area, like Emma’s Ale House in White Plains, which also already opened its kitchen by 11 am on Sundays.  Then there’s locations like Xaviars X20 on the Hudson in Yonkers, which will continue seating Sunday brunch at noon as it’s done in the past.

Regardless of whether Cuomo’s legislation lives up to its catchy nickname, the ABC Law’s secondary updates are multifaceted and perhaps going overlooked. For example, where once small alcohol-beverage wholesalers had to pay fees equal to those of larger wholesalers (potentially ranging from $1,460 for a one-year beer license to $27,280 for a three-year liquor license), that’s been slashed to $125 a year.

It will also streamline licensing paperwork for craft  beer and liquor manufacturers, and allows for the sale of gift-wrapped liquor bottles and wine growlers. A la the brunch spots, it remains to be seen how quickly word of mouth about the bill will spread and trickle down to other affected small business. Perhaps a more suitable nickname might have been “Reduced Fees for Small Wholesalers Bill,” though that probably doesn’t have the same ring to it. 

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