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Shepherdstown first with Sunday morning alcohol

Journal photo by Katiann Marshall Sherry Sturman and Donna Blauser sit and enjoy mimosas during brunch at the Blue Moon Cafe in Shepherdstown Sunday.
Journal photo by Katiann Marshall
Sherry Sturman and Donna Blauser sit and enjoy mimosas during brunch at the Blue Moon Cafe in Shepherdstown Sunday.

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Sunday morning brunch-goers were able to enjoy a mid-morning drink for the first time in the state’s history, thanks to an ordinance passed in Shepherdstown allowing alcohol sales in restaurants beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Shepherdstown is the first city in West Virginia to allow alcohol sales in restaurants on Sunday mornings and local patrons are enjoying every bit of it.

Dave and Debbie Welch enjoyed food and drinks at the Press Room in Shepherdstown on Sunday, and said they are thrilled about the law changing because brunch is their favorite meal time.

“It makes for a nice Sunday. We don’t have to go back home (after church), we don’t have to wait (until 1 p.m.) and we can just have a nice afternoon,” Debbie said.

“When you work Monday through Friday and you only have 48 hours off, you just want to enjoy yourself and I think it’s great, especially for the businesses,” she added.

Sherry Sturman and her mother, Donna Blauser, went to the Blue Moon Cafe in Shepherdstown to enjoy mimosas with brunch.

“I think a Sunday brunch is a perfect time to bring (alcohol sales) in earlier,” Sturman said. “It does help the businesses and plus, in a restaurant, you’d just have all these people come in at one o’clock just to enjoy something that they couldn’t have enjoyed five minutes earlier. It was silly. I think it’s a long overdue change.”

“And drinking shouldn’t be based on time,” Blauser added.

The ordinance was passed during the Shepherdstown Town Council’s special meeting Thursday evening. Previously, the law did not allow alcohol to be served before 1 p.m.

Because of the passage of the “Brunch Bill” in the 2016 legislative session, county commissions are allowed to put the issue up for a voter referendum.

Shepherdstown, on the other hand, became a home rule municipality back in April, which allowed the town to create the alcohol ordinance and implement it without presenting before their residents for a vote.

Brian Albert has worked in the service industry for over 25 years and has been employed at the Press Room for nearly 10 of those years. Albert said the law will be a game-changer for the restaurant’s business and ones like it in town.

“If today is any indication, it behooves the entire state to follow,” said Albert.

Albert said he usually bartends on Sunday and there is usually a rush at 1 p.m., but yesterday was different.

“There is always a rush at one o’clock. I may get some stragglers before but today I had people standing at the door at 10:30 waiting for us to open and my bar has been full from 11 o’clock on, and it’s not just more drinks that we are serving, it’s more food as well. Everyone is coming in to get brunch, get something to eat and enjoy a bloody mary, mimosa or a glass of wine with it,” Albert said.

Breanna Gladden has worked at Bistro 112 in Shepherdstown for four years, and said this will help to eliminate customer dissatisfaction that used to loom over the old law.

“We open at noon, so it has always been difficult for us because that first hour you get people that come in and they are expecting to get a drink. Sometimes they are from out of town or out of state and they aren’t familiar with the law and they get frustrated that they can’t have a beverage,” Gladden said.

“And even though we only open at noon, not 10 or 11, it helps us out dramatically because now we don’t have to tell people no and countdown on on the clock and say, ‘well, in 30 minutes I can make that drink for you,’ which also eliminates that one o’clock rush that tends to happen as well. So, it is really beneficial and really just makes everyone a lot happier,” Gladden added.

Shepherdstown Mayor Jim Auxer said he is happy people are pleased with the decision and that he supported the change because he believed it would be a positive one.

Auxer said he is proud the town is the first to make the change and that he wants the town to be a trendsetter.

Auxer believes this will also help tourism of the city.

“I also think it will help not just the restaurants, but the retail businesses too. People will be able to enjoy brunch and then do some shopping after, stop at the Vistors Center, visit the museum, tour the campus, or just enjoy the historical ambiance of Shepherdstown,” Auxer said.

“And this will help us compete with surrounding cities for business,” Auxer added.

Although most are happy about the change, it only affects the businesses within the city limits. Auxer said the town itself is made up of about 800 residents, not including Shepherd University students, and while the city is small there are a lot of business that fall within that small area.

Unfortunately for the Bavarian Inn, it isn’t one of them that is. Part-owner Christian Azam said they are hoping to become part of the trend come November.

“While we are excited for our friends in the business downtown, we are mourning the fact that we are not a part of it,” Azam said.

The Bavarian Inn is located off of Shepherd Grade Road along the Potomac River, which falls just short of the corporate limit.

Jefferson County Commissioners and the Berkeley County Council, on the other hand, must seek a referendum on the issue, which is expected to be on the Nov. 8 general election ballot in both counties. Both Martinsburg and Ranson are using their home rule status to draft ordinances to approved Sunday sales.

-Staff Writer Katiann Marshall can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 182 or at

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