Posted by Laura McCallister, Multimedia Producer - email
OVERLAND PARK, KS (AP) -
Happy hour is legal once again in Kansas, and while not every bar owner has immediate plans to start offering limited-time drink specials, many are pleased they'll stop losing business to neighboring states like Missouri.
The end of the happy-hour ban instituted by Kansas in 1985 is among numerous liquor law changes taking effect Sunday under legislation signed by Gov. Sam Brownback in late May.
Others include letting certain wineries sell and serve their products on their premises and permitting retailers such as grocery and liquor stores to offer free samples and hold wine and beer tastings -- although grocery stores still cannot sell wine and hard liquor, The Kansas City Star reported Saturday.
The 1985 ban on happy hour technically prohibited bars and restaurants from changing drink prices during the day. Lawmakers were concerned the promotions led to drunken driving by encouraging patrons to consume too much, too quickly, especially in the traditional after-work happy hour period.
But the ban had some perhaps unforeseen consequences. Many owners responded by offering daylong specials, such as well drinks for $2.50 or bottles of beer for $2. And along the state's eastern border, patrons could simply head to the nearest Missouri bar offering happy hour.
"It was silly," said Jason Pryor, who has offered weekday happy hours for nearly a decade at Pizza 51, his shop in Kansas City, Mo., but couldn't do the same at the pizza place he opened last year in neighboring Fairway, Kan.
Starting Monday, Pryor's Kansas shop -- Pizza 51 West -- will serve discounted beers for three hours on weekdays.
"I just wanted it to be consistent with my (Missouri) location," he said.
Adam Mills, president and chief executive officer of the Wichita-based Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association, called the changes in the liquor laws "a big victory" for Kansas establishments.
"Now they can compete on an even playing field with Missouri businesses," Mills said.
The owners of Buckley's Wine Market in Overland Park are cheering the provision allowing many retailers to offer wine tastings. Co-owner Cate Buckley said the store would hold a two-hour tasting of sparkling wines Sunday afternoon to celebrate.
"What is a sweet wine to one person isn't a sweet wine to another. Wine tastings reassure them," she said.
Under the old liquor laws, she said, consumers could "drive five miles to a World Market in Missouri for a wine tasting, or anywhere in Missouri. It was like having my hands tied behind my back."
But the continued ban on selling food and wine or hard liquor within a single retail establishment means Buckley's operation will retain a feature familiar to Kansas consumers -- side-by-side stores under the same ownership, one selling alcohol, the other food.
"I can always tell when someone isn't from Kansas," said Cate Buckley. "They come in and they are confused which door to go into."
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