After passing an ordinance last year to allow South Brunswick liquor stores to open earlier on Sundays, the Township Council is set to vote on another request from local business owners for later hours.
In early 2011, in South Brunswick to open at 10 a.m. on Sundays instead of noon, which was the earliest time a store could open prior to the adjustment. However, local liquor store owners said the earlier hours have done little to improve business and are requesting they be allowed to remain open until 7 p.m. instead of the current 5 p.m. closing time.
"We don't see customers in the morning and we're losing money," said Rama Govinda, owner of on Route 1 in Monmouth Junction. "We close at 5 p.m. while other places are closing at 9 or 10 p.m. Our customers are going to these other places, even though their prices are higher than ours, just because they're open later."
Govinda said the hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. are typically the busiest time of day for liquor stores on Sundays. He added that on multiple occasions customers have come to The Viking after closing time and banged on the front door because they don't understand why the store is closing earlier than surrounding businesses.
"They think we're choosing to close early when it's the town's regulations," Govinda noted.
During a discussion at Tuesday's council meeting, Mayor Frank Gambatese said South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka conducted a survey of surrounding towns to determine a course of action. The survey found that other towns do allow later hours on Sundays , but this has not led to any additional spikes in alcohol related incidents.
"We have some flexibility based on the request to move from 5 to 7 p.m., with other towns who are open until 9 p.m. or later," said Councilman Joseph Camarota. "The defining point is that since the hours have increased in surrounding towns there have been no issues (for police)."
With state law permitting liquor stores to stay open until 10 p.m. on Sundays, the council will move the request for extended hours to a vote at the next meeting on Tuesday.
"I believe we need to look out for the (business owners) in our town," said Councilman John O'Sullivan. "It seems by (Hayducka's) memo that it's not too outrageous to extend the hours."
Should the township extend liquor store hours from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays? Tell us in the comments.
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