New York Bans Boozy Brunches

Ah, brunch. A favorite weekend past-time of mine. The restaurants in DC offer many different types of brunch in addition to a classic, traditional meal, such as bottomless food, bottomless drink, prix-fixe, and others.

My go-to, favorite brunch deals come from the Richard Sandoval restaurants which include Masa 14, El Centro, and Zengo.

Each offers a similar bottomless food AND drink menu, which always makes everybody in the group happy.  Masa 14 “serves colorful Latin-Asian cuisine to brunch-goers on both Saturday and Sunday” and even has a heated (if necessary) patio to dine on (see picture)

Washington City Paper gave first place honors to Masa 14 for ‘Best Brunch 2012”.

Unfortunately for my brunch-loving friends in New York, who enjoy similar options, their weekend plans may soon be changing.

“The NYC Hospitality Alliance sent out an alert Monday to its member restaurants reminding them of a  prohibition  against “selling, serving, delivering or offering to patrons an unlimited number of drinks during any set period of time for a fixed price,” writes Evan Bernick of Heritage.

Places in New York that are similar to Masa 14 are affected by this prohibition, due to their option of a prix fixe brunch which includes an unlimited selection of brunch drinks “full of seasonal flavor”.

The previously mentioned Heritage article continues,

“Is the State Liquor Authority seriously enforcing this prohibition? Unfortunately, the answer is “yes.” The New York Post reports that Heath St. Clair, who owns an Australian burger joint in the East Village called The Sunburnt Cow, said he used to offer unlimited mimosas and Fosters beer over a 90 minute span– before his business was investigated by the SLA. Following this investigation by the fun police, he now says, “We do not offer an unlimited brunch.”

“As anyone who has ever consumed multiple mimosas at brunch knows, unlimited drinks are never actually unlimited. One can only handle so many of them, and restaurant owners are well aware of this. “We only serve a person maybe four or five drinks,” St. Clair told the Post.“People get buzzed, they get happy, and they feel like they didn’t pay for it. We’d go broke if we actually gave people unlimited drinks.”

“Is this really necessary? New York already prohibits disorderly conduct and drunk driving. So long as there is a designated driver present, what’s the harm in offering incentives to customers to come in and have a good time? What’s next? Banning happy hours and Ladies’ Night?

Bernick concludes by presenting the idea that brunch-goers “can take comfort, perhaps, that laws that are so at odds with the common sense of the community do not often last long. But it would be even better if the authorities immediately lifted the burden of this uncommonly silly regulation by getting rid of it.”

Read the full text of Heritage’s post: First Big Gulp, Now Bottomless Bloody Marys: New York Bans Boozy Brunches, published February 26th.

Here’s to hoping that New York restaurants find a way to fight back and that this idea does not spread to DC anytime soon.

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