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Photograph: Virginia Rollison

A lawyer wants to end bottomless brunches in NYC

Written by
Clayton Guse

Drowning oneself in endless carafes of mimosas is not an uncommon way to spend a Sunday in New York. The prospect of bottomless brunch draws thousands of wallet-clutching residents out of their homes and into restaurants for a day in which nothing matters other than becoming as numb as possible.

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Three years ago, New Yorkers had a collective panic attack after the State Liquor Authority (SLA) issued a reminder that the sale of unlimited alcoholic drinks during a set period of time for a fixed price is in fact illegal in the city. Granted, the law was seldom enforced, but boozehounds across town started freaking out like it was the end of the goddamn world. It didn't take long for the authority to issue a clarification, saying that “there is a limited exception in the statute when the service of alcohol is incidental to the event, such as in the case of certain brunch specials. Even under these limited exceptions, licensees still have a legal obligation not to over serve patrons.”

After that statement, New Yorkers assumed their nightmare was over. They could continue to get plastered on the cheap during brunch, and the government couldn't stop them. But one East Village resident named Robert Halpern thinks that the bottomless craze has gone too far, and he's determined to put an end to it. Halpern, a lawyer, told The Real Deal that “there are too many people running around drinking all the time,” and he's urging the SLA to put an end to unbridled intoxication. He's petitioned the authority to curb the number of liquor licenses issued in his nabe, which he estimates to be well over 600. 

It's probably safe to assume that Halpern won't get his way, but if he does succeed, all of the brunching downtown youths will have to fork out a lot more cash for their day drinking fix (or drink a pint of whisky on their stoop at 11am like a normal person). 

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