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Garland's only bar can sell beer on Sundays during NFL season

Published December 10, 2012 10:54 am

Debate • Controversial change will end once the NFL season is over.
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Garland, Box Elder County • Never on Sunday, except during football season.

For the first Sunday since anyone can remember, the TVs were on at Sofa's Bar, and Jamielyn Vanderhoof was pouring beer.

It's been a long struggle, but on Nov. 27 the Garland City Council amended its beer ordinance to allow Sofa's — the only bar in this town of 2,400 — to serve beer on Sunday.

But the suds will flow only through the end of the NFL season, which will crescendo Feb. 3 with the Super Bowl. Then Garland's beer ordinance will return to ban Sunday consumption of alcohol on the premises.

"The first Sunday, it's special to me," patron Gary Clark said. "I wouldn't miss it."

Clark was drinking a tanker of Hefeweizen and watching his Dallas Cowboys take on the Cincinnati Bengals.

"It's not looking good," he said early in the fourth quarter. "[Dallas quarterback] Romo should go with the hurry-up offense."

At 1:30 p.m., Clark was the only customer.

The Cowboys scored a quick touchdown and were within three points of a victory and setting up for a field goal as the game clock ticked down.

"This is going to be the sweetest boot when the ball flies through the goalpost," he said.

He took a long pull on his beer and then threw his hands in the air as Dallas hit a field goal to win 20-19.

Vanderhoof said more of the regular crowd would most likely stream in for the later games and the free chili she had cooked up for the occasion. The football crowd on Thursday nights is usually pretty big, she said.

"We had to fight to get open on Sunday and we finally got it," Vanderhoof said. "But it's our first Sunday, so we'll wait and see if more people come."

Garland Mayor Arlon Bennett was among those dead set against the beer ordinance change.

"The City Council did this all on their own," the mayor said. "I do not support it."

The mayor lives near the bar, and he and some of his neighbors say it can get loud and even profane.

"This bar borders a residential area," the mayor said. "You have children who walk to church along that road."

But after several crammed City Council meetings and weeks of spirited banter, Bennett said he has tired of the controversy.

"I'm almost up to my ears with it."

By contrast, Councilman Scott Coleman, who sponsored the ordinance amendment, said selling beer on Sunday is "probably a good idea. Let's see how it goes."

Coleman is one of three new council members who voted for Sunday beer sales. Because two bars in nearby Tremonton serve beer on Sunday, it put Sofa's owner, Shane Grover, at a competitive disadvantage, Coleman said.

Not all the pub's neighbors are against it. Kristen Poulsen lives near Sofa's bar, but she hasn't had any problem with bar patrons, and neither did her elderly mother, who recently died.

"If they want to do that," she said of the Sunday football and beer, "it's just fine with me. It's no different than anybody else getting together."

Poulsen, too, was watching the football game, but said she preferred to do it from the sofa in her living room bundled up in quilts.

She conceded that the Sunday beer proposal did cause a dustup in this town 25 miles south of the Idaho line that was founded in 1903 around a sugar beet mill.

"It's a small town and everybody here knows everybody else," she said. "It was a pretty big deal up here."

Doug Pearson, a dyed-in-the-wool Chicago Bears fan, ambled in about 2 p.m. for the Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers game.

"I think it's great. It's been a long time coming," Pearson said, ordering a beer. "It gives people a place to go and watch some football and socialize with their friends and have a good time."







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