In a bold act and in response to the closure of all dine-in restaurants and bars in New York due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York’s State Liquor Authority (SLA) announced that effective 8PM March 16, 2020 New York State restaurants and bars could sell cocktails for takeout and delivery. About one day later Governor Greg Abbott of Texas followed suit, allowing for restaurants to deliver cocktails with food orders throughout Texas. We urge Governor Newsom to take the same bold action in California to help California’s devastated restaurant industry.
And while the New York and Texas actions create a powerful tool to help struggling restaurants and food-serving bars, it is in fact a completely measured and well justified response to the closure of all food service dine-in facilities estimated by the National Restaurant Association to result in a sobering $225 billion loss of sales over the next three months alone.
In California, restaurants and bars can apply, pay for, and are often ultimately issued, “on-sale” general or Beer & Wine liquor licenses. Simply put, on-sale licenses allow for at-the-restaurant or bar consumption of all liquors (Type 47 license) or Beer & Wine (Type 41 license). And in California, both license types allow for the sale of beer and wine in a sealed container (e.g., original unopened cans and bottles) for consumption off-premises (i.e., take-away).
Yet for many of these businesses, their highest margin sales are cocktails. Even at Beer & Wine licensed locations, cocktails have become all-the-rage as restaurants discover they can use fermented liquors (such as Agave Wine as a proxy for tequila) and other wine-license safe alcohols such as Soju and Sake to make near-identical (and arguably healthier!) fermented-liquor cocktails including all the favorites such as Margaritas, Cosmopolitans and Manhattans.
Oddly, while California’s liquor law currently allows for on-sale licensees to sell sealed wine and beer bottles for take-out, it does not allow for the sale of take-out or delivery cocktails -- which again is often the highest margin item and most important revenue source for California’s restaurants and food-serving bars. And when the governmental action in response to COVID-19 shut down on-premise dining, thereby limiting bars and restaurants to take-out and delivery only, it inadvertently - albeit completely - deprived valid liquor license holders of their right and ability to sell their highest margin items: once again, cocktails.
We urge Govern Newsom to act boldly and with the same urgency as the New York’s State Liquor Authority and the Governor of Texas to help California restaurants, bars and their staff and employees by immediately allowing California state restaurants and food-serving bars to sell cocktails for takeout and delivery, subject to similar conditions set forth in the NYSLA and Texas actions. Namely that (1) the take-away and delivery cocktails be accompanied by food orders, and (2) as is already in place for alcohol delivery services such as Amazon and Instacart in California, Customers ordering the cocktails must be over the age of 21 and be required to present a valid government ID at the time of delivery.
We also urge all those in the California restaurant and bar industries, and those that want to support everyone working at California’s restaurants and bars, to contact Governor Newsom and share this message requesting this help and support.
Sending an email to the Governor is the best and quickest way to share our message, and can be done by CLICKING HERE and selecting "Have Comment" as your choice of purpose and "COVID-19" as you choice of subject.
You can also call or mail the Governor directly to his office at:
Governor Gavin Newsom
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160
Although a personal statement is always best, you are welcome to use the following statement as a guide for your outreach to the Governor:
“Governor Newsom, I am currently [part of / a patron and supporter of] the restaurant industry in California, and we desperately need your help! Please help California restaurants, bars and their staff and employees by immediately allowing California state restaurants and bars to sell cocktails for takeout and delivery just as the New York’s State Liquor Authority and Governor of Texas has done for their restaurant and bar communities.”
In this time of great uncertainty and challenges, all businesses, and in particular those directly impacted by COVID-19 shut-downs such as dine-in restaurants and bars, must seek new and creative ways to help make ends meet. Thankfully for those in New York and Texas, the New York SLA and Texas Governor have offered a powerful tool by allowing cocktail take-out and delivery, which, together with innovative, cost reducing cocktail solutions such as Somabar, may keep restaurants and its employees afloat in the unpredictable days and weeks to come. We urge Governor Newsom to take the same bold action in California to help California’s devastated restaurant industry.
*cocktail images shown in this article are for illustration only
and do not necessarily comply with open container laws