Alcohol to-go sales slated to end Thursday

17 hours ago

An executive order allowing the sale of alcohol with takeout food in New York state is slated to end Thursday, according to the State Liquor Authority. It’s an end to an executive order signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state last year. 

For Scott Donnelley, owner of Donnelly's Public House in Fairport, the alcohol sales were a lifeline for his business as a much-needed cash flow. He said his business barely made it through the last year.

“Much like everyone, not just specific to restaurants, it's been a grind,” said Donnelly. “I think that’s the best way to sum it up. 

“The state allowing those types of sales to happen, particularly last year, as this whole thing got started, as we were learning to make changes in our business model, that piece was very important.” 

State-mandated COVID-19 restrictions, along with issues with staffing and product availability, hurt his business, forcing him to change his model. When the state allowed alcohol sales with takeout food last year, Donnelley got creative -- selling 32-ounce beer growlers and bags of mixed drinks that reminded people of Capri Sun drinks. He said they were a huge hit last summer.

As capacity limits have increased, Donnelly said these sales have become less important, but he doesn’t think they should be illegal. He wishes the state would be as flexible as his local government has been.

“One of the things that Fairport says a lot is, 'How can we help?’ And I hope that trickles down, or up if you will, to the state level,” said Donnelly. 

There’s a push in the state Legislature for an extension of the rule, at least for two more years, if not permanently, but that has not happened yet. 

But one group thinks that’s a bad idea -- the New York State Liquor Association. Stefan Kalogridis, the association’s president and a liquor store owner, said his group was in support of the measure as it helped struggling bars and restaurants, until some of them abused it by selling whole bottles of vodka or gin instead of pre-mixed drinks like Donnelly did. 

“We have documentation and pictures of displays in restaurants that say ‘bottles to-go,’ which wasn’t in the executive order,” said Kalogridis. “If it wasn’t in the executive order and they did it then, don’t you think they’ll do it when they pass the law? That’s the problem we have.”

Kalogridis said he doesn’t think the Liquor Authority has the manpower to police that issue.