Restaurant industry says ‘kudos’ to on-the-go drinks

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The restaurant industry has been hoping for the return of take-out drinks since June 2021, when a temporary pandemic measure that allowed them expired.

“When the pandemic shut down indoor restaurants, take-out beverages provided a critical source of revenue for struggling restaurants,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, which represents restaurants in New York City. . His return will help restaurants in their continued financial recovery, he said, and will likely be popular with residents who can “grab a margarita with their takeout at their favorite neighborhood eateries.”

But the realization of the temporary program required many round trips. Attempts to pass it in the Legislative Assembly failed. In January, Hochul added it to its proposed budget, calling it “the most popular item in my budget.” But in March, the Legislature removed the drinks idea from its respective proposed budgets. Meanwhile, liquor stores across the state feared their sales would suffer as consumers bought their drinks from restaurants — which might be open earlier or later than heavily regulated liquor stores — at the square.

The adopted proposal includes several limitations on restaurant beverage menus. All alcohol orders must include a “substantial food item”, depending on the budget. Full bottles of liquor or wine cannot be sold by delivery, a concession to liquor stores. Beverages must be packaged in well-sealed containers and are subject to open container laws. Take-out alcohol can only be offered during a business’ authorized opening hours, and drink prices must be the same as if they were served at the table. All deliveries must be received by a customer who is at least 21 years old and not already intoxicated.

“Passing to-go is a step toward modernizing ABC laws,” said Paul Zuber, executive vice president of the New York State Business Council, which represents businesses statewide. Zuber said he was pleased to see that the budget also included a provision to create a temporary commission to reform liquor control laws, known as the ABC Laws. He said he looks forward to seeing more updates to the “archaic ABC laws” that “have impeded the development of the state’s wine and spirits industry, limited job growth and prevented the expansion of small businesses, including wine and spirits retailers”.

But on Monday, State Sen. James Skoufis said he was not optimistic that adopting takeout alcohol would trigger other liquor law reforms, such as allowing distilleries. state to sell and deliver their bottles directly to consumers, or update liquor store regulations. so they can open at Christmas, for example.

“The whole system is top-down and anti-consumer,” he said.

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