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States ease liquor laws to help restaurants

Illinois and New York have OK'd sales for off-premise, and New York and Ohio have permitted returns of unused St. Patrick’s stockpiles.
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Photograph: Shutterstock

Illinois restaurants with a liquor license have been given a go-ahead to sell containers of beer, wine and spirits for takeout and delivery, the latest example of states relaxing their alcohol regulations to help eating and drinking places capture more revenues.

New York greenlighted the sale of alcohol for takeout and delivery sales when it banned dine-in restaurant service yesterday. “This is HUGE,” the New York City Hospitality Alliance (NYCHA), a trade group for restaurants and nightclubs, said in an alert to members.

Food must be part of any takeout or delivery order that includes wine or liquor. Beer and hard cider can be sold separately, according to Pesetsky & Bookman, general and legislative counsel for the NYCHA.

New York’s State Liquor Authority (SLA) OK'd the return of unopened containers of liquor that have been purchased since March 1. Restaurants will receive a credit for what they return. The measure is intended to help places that stocked up before the coronavirus crisis for a normal St. Patrick’s Day.

The NYCHA has asked the SLA to OK the return of all unopened containers, regardless of when they were purchased.

Ohio’s liquor regulatory agency announced yesterday that it, too, would permit restaurants to return unopened containers of liquor that might have been stockpiled for St. Patrick’s Day. The policy covers purchases made in the past 30 days.

Ohio’s Division of Liquor Control also extended the return option to caterers and restaurants that had obtained a temporary liquor license for events originally scheduled for March 13 through April 6.

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