Massive protests took place in Raleigh on Wednesday morning, all with the same message: free our brunches. Demonstrations were held in multiple locations, as citizens of all ages, races (but mainly Caucasian), and genders came together in support of ending brunch inequality.
“We’re all in this together. It’s not about party lines, it’s about brunch lines,” said Kelly Iredell, who helped organize the protests by creating a Facebook event.
The protesters were supporting SB155, also known as the “Brunch Bill”, which would let local governments allow restaurants to serve alcohol starting at 10 a.m. on Sundays. By statute, North Carolina currently allows alcohol sales statewide from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day, except Sundays, when alcohol service cannot begin until noon.
SB155 was referred to the House ABC Committee, projected to meet this week, which is most likely why so many protests sprung up on Wednesday morning.
Protesters chained themselves to tables and bicycle racks outside of popular brunch spots like Capital Club 16, Poole’s, NOFO, and Beasley’s Chicken + Honey.
“The mimosa has sat imprisoned until noon every Sunday for decades. I don’t want to be dramatic, but we might as well call it the “Nelson Mimosa” at this point,” commented Esther August, a barista at a local fair trade coffee pop-up wheelbarrow (it’s similar to a pop-up food truck, but it’s a wheelbarrow.)
“It’s normal to have a crowd of dozens of women and bearded guys, both dressed in plaid shirts and selvage denim, waiting for us to open so they can be the first to Instagram their food before discussing a thing they heard on a podcast for the duration of their meal,” said an anonymous Beasley’s employee. “But once they started chanting “Sunday Bloody Mary Sunday” (a parody of a U2 song) we knew they were serious,” she added.
“We’ve suffered long enough. We’re live tweeting the protest, hoping it will get national attention. Trust me, I work at Br&nd & Br@nd (a local digital marketing firm) I know how to leverage social media to amplify our key messaging,” said Leona Jordan, who considers herself an influencer despite having only 423 followers on Instagram.
The protests seemed to die down at Capital Club 16 once supporters finished dining on French Toast and cheese grit cake, universally known as the best French Toast inside the beltline. “I honestly forgot what we were protesting. I could crush a Netflix nap right now,” said Davis Russell, who manages an Airbnb.
It wasn’t just the downtown Raleigh crowd that came out in support of craft cocktails before noon. Over in Cameron Village, college-aged students formed a pastel colored wall of solidarity at the entrances to Harris Teeter, refusing to let anyone in.
“If we can’t buy beer and champagne for our Glowmosas before noon, then no one can buy any groceries ever,” said Thomas Meyer Williams III, who added that he was “hungover AF” from the previous night’s band party at Delta Sig.
It seems that the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association (NCRLA) has been effective in mobilizing support for the bill. They called on community leaders, industry professionals, restaurateurs and patrons alike to learn more about the benefits of the NC Brunch Bill. A petition at ncbrunchbill.com has over 6,200 signatures.
They’ve been posting about the impact of the bill across their social channels on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, encouraging supporters to use #FreeTheMimosa. Here are some examples of a coaster and social media ad that was created to spread the word.
NCRLA believes the change will increase tax revenue, benefitting both local and state governments. They also expect that, with more venues offering brunch on Sunday morning, the NC Brunch Bill will serve as a vehicle for job creation for people in the restaurant industry.
“We’ll keep an eye on the results of the House ABC Committee meeting,” promised Jordan. “Well, unless any more details come out about the Bachelor in Paradise investigation, then I’m totes gonna drop what I’m doing to follow that.”