Louisiana regulators began the process this week of licensing restaurants to deliver alcoholic beverages.
Third-party delivery services will also be able to secure the permits, enabling restaurants to deliver sealed containers of alcoholic beverages either directly or through a partner. Places that qualify for a license will likely get the go-ahead to begin offering delivery in early August.
Only restaurants that currently hold a license to serve alcoholic beverages will be eligible for one of the permits. The permits are priced at $250.
The new regulations set a number of restrictions on the delivery of beer, wine and spirits. The drinks must be dispatched in a factory-sealed container. Deliveries to colleges are forbidden. The delivery person must be at least 18 years of age, and must verify that the customer receiving the alcohol is of drinking age before handing over the beverages. The same state and local taxes that apply to on-premise sales will also be applicable to delivery orders.
The law permitting alcohol delivery was written to exclude taverns. It specifies that permits will be granted only to establishments that generate at least 50% of their revenues from the sale of food and nonalcoholic beverages.
Louisiana quietly enacted two bills clearing the way for alcohol delivery by restaurants at the end of June. Proponents noted that adult beverages are a big part of the state’s culture. New Orleans, for instance, is known as the birthplace of cocktails such as the Sazerac and the Hurricane, and the city allows revelers to walk around with open containers of alcoholic drinks.
The delivery of alcoholic beverages has been eyed by the casual-dining segment as a way of offsetting soft dine-in sales, but state or local regulations often preclude restaurants from sending drinks to off-premise customers’ homes. A number of operators, from BJ’s Restaurants to Pizza Hut, are experimenting with the service in areas that permit it.