Drinking in Oxford is not a Sunday thing, it’s a sports thing.
Residents who want a full-fledged sports bar experience on NFL Sundays and for college sports now can avoid hours of travel to and from Memphis. Instead, they can spend their going-out money in their hometown.
On Jan. 18, the Board of Alderman passed an ordinance that will allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays in restaurants and bars from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on all Sundays. The change is effective March 23.
At the Rib Cage, owner Buck Walden was already open on Sundays till 2 p.m. for lunch. He expects to extend hours starting March 13, the first official day of Sunday alcohol sales on premises in Oxford.
“It will be well worth staying open,” Walden said.
Proud Larry’s already serves brunch on Sundays, and owner Scott Caradine doesn’t expect any major changes. He is considering keeping the grill open until the early evening hours.
The Blind Pig owner Jim Moore has remained closed on past Sundays, but will be open starting in March from 11 a.m. till 9 p.m.
When asked if he was excited, Moore quickly replied, “Not really, I enjoyed my day off,” while laughing. Moore added that the extra business will be nice.
Frank & Marlee’s is also now closed on Sundays, but owner Todd Lynch plans to try out Sunday hours for a few weeks.
“It’s great that we can now have the option,” he said. “During football season, we’ll more than likely be open.”
He’s excited for the town of Oxford and the Square.
In the past, mid Sunday afternoons on The Square were quiet and peaceful. Without Sunday alcohol sales, many restaurant owners chose to close rather than keep the lights on for sporadic visits from customers. That left plenty of parking for people running errands in town.
Lynch said the city sells itself as a tourist destination, but that has been a flawed description in the past. “It’s not a weekend getaway, it’s a Saturday getaway,” he said, because so many restaurants and stores are closed on Sundays.
All three restaurant owners said they welcome the change.
“It’s a great step in that Oxford is finally growing up. You couldn’t buy cold beer or beer on Sunday,” Walden said. “It will be neat when an LSU baseball fan asks for a Bloody Mary and we can give it to them.”
He said the change will be especially beneficial on bigger sports weekends. The Rib Cage will still serve lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Afterwards, drinks and appetizers will be available from a skeleton staff in the downstairs bar until 9 p.m.
He doubts that the Rib Cage will be open on summer Sunday evenings, when locals are out golfing in the sunshine and students are out of school.
Walden expects a relaxed crowd, one that’s not apt to create a ruckus like that seen among the Friday and Saturday night set.
On a personal note, Lynch was glad for town restaurant workers. “That’s the only day we have off too. If I want to have a beer or watch a game, I can go somewhere,” he said.
– Gretchen Stone, associate editor, HottyToddy.com, firstname.lastname@example.org