New Bill Would Allow Return of To-Go Cocktails and Aid Ailing Hospitality Industry

Marilyn HawkesMarch 5, 2021
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As the coronavirus pandemic passes the one-year mark, many Valley restaurants are still struggling to keep the doors open due to reduced capacity, high rents and beleaguered employees stretched to their limits. According to the Arizona Restaurant Association, 12 percent of Arizona’s restaurants have closed in the past year.

To help Arizona’s ailing hospitality industry, Arizona State House Representative Jeff Weninger (R, Dist. 17), recently introduced HB 2773, that if passed, will allow restaurants and bars across Arizona to sell to-go cocktails again, a popular option for consumers.

In late June 2020, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed an executive order that allowed restaurants to sell to-go cocktails, but in Nov. 2020, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled that parts of Ducey’s executive order violated state law.

Joshua James, co-owner and bartender at Clever Koi, Fellow Osteria and Across The Pond, says the passage of HB 2773 will give the Valley’s restaurant industry a much-needed boost. “It will help restaurants recover,” he says. “During the lockdown, when we had take-out only, (selling cocktails to go) was a way for us to drive a lot of additional sales. Also, we were able to keep people working and not furloughed.”

Some key provisions in HB 2773:

  • Series 6 licensees (bars) will be allowed to sell mixed cocktails for off-premises consumption without an additional application or fee.
  • Series 12 licensees (restaurants) must apply for and purchase a permit to sell mixed cocktails for off-premises consumption and pay an additional fee.
  • Series 12 licensees must maintain 40/60 food-to-alcohol ratio.
  • A new license for third-party facilitators (delivery services).

“This is an important win all around,” Weninger said in a press release. “This bill will allow local restaurants and bars to provide a service that their customers want while earning the vital additional business revenue to help them survive, now and into the future.”

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