Bars, restaurants, and breweries with on-site privileges can still deliver and sell beer to take out. Delivery of packaged beer from a manufacturing brewery, for example, is still permitted. (A manufacturing brewery in the state is defined as a brewery that is not required to use a percentage of New York-grown ingredients and that does not have a cap on its annual production.) Breweries with farm brewery or microbrewery licenses must cease take-out or delivery from June 24. Of New York’s 484 breweries, about 275 hold farm brewery licenses, according to the New York State Brewers Association.
Megan Rickerson learned of NYSLA’s decision to halt sales of take-out cocktails, wines and beers from a colleague who saw the ad on Twitter. Rickerson, owner of Someday Bar in Brooklyn, New York, and co-founder of Save NYC Bars, got used to hearing about major regulatory changes in this informal way: She first heard about restaurant closings. interiors by Cuomo last year via a social network Post. This is problematic for companies who are not on social networks or who had not received the news from a local hotel association; they risk breaking the rules without even knowing that the rules have changed.
Brew York beer newsletter notes that NYSLA made other hasty and confusing decisions during the pandemic, including giving businesses 11 hours’ notice about a new rule requiring food to be purchased with alcohol.
“In real form, instead of reaching out to industries that it affects, it’s just a spontaneous announcement with one day’s notice for people to adjust,” Rickerson said. “This once again shows the lack of concern for all of us as an industry on the part of our government.”
Rickerson and others in the industry believe the NYSLA bowed to pressure from packaged liquor stores that did not want to see take-out cocktail permissions extended. Rickerson says the agency’s surrender to these stores is particularly frustrating as packaged alcohol sales have increased dramatically during the pandemic.
“They survived very well and we are still in pain, so why are you dealing with people who are not in pain and what’s the rush?” Rickerson said. “Give us more time and give us the why [behind this decision]. “
His anger is palpable, and it is shared with other players in the hotel industry. They say the NYSLA decision was made in haste and without any discussion with companies still reeling from the effects of the pandemic. According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), the restaurant industry workforce in New York City in June is 20% lower than its February 2020 rate. While the state is eager to return to a sense of normalcy, hospitality professionals say their businesses are still in a state of emergency. They say the repeal of take-out sales – and in such an abrupt way – will have devastating and long-term effects.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT
Nearly 80% of New Yorkers support making COVID-era alcohol clearances permanent, and as of June 22, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) reports that 15 other states have done just that. , while 11 others have extended take-out cocktails by law. This follows national calls from DISCUS, local hotel alliances and consumers to make it a reality. The situation in New York this week proves that it will be an uphill battle in some jurisdictions.
As customers return to bars, restaurants and breweries this summer, the hospitality industry remains far from its pre-pandemic state. The NRA reports that only four states – Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota – have seen restaurant employment return to pre-pandemic levels.
Industry advocates argue that pandemic-era permissions, such as take-out or delivery alcohol sales, are critical to recovery; in fact, many states have made them permanent.
“[To-go and delivery alcohol] was a lifeline during the pandemic and it looked like it would be a great part of their continued resilience, ”said Jaime-Faye Bean, executive director of the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District in Queens, New York. Its business improvement district includes around 300 businesses, of which around 60 are bars and restaurants. “Over the past few years, we’ve seen corporate margins get smaller and smaller. We’re seeing huge increases in property values in New York City, and then that trickles down to tenants. [To-go and delivery alcohol] is something that I was hoping would help widen those margins a bit, give a bit more convenience.
In a statement to Good Beer Hunting, the NYSLA said the issue of takeout cocktails should be addressed by the New York Legislature, which introduced but did not exactly follow through with such a bill earlier. this spring.
“The legislature has not codified the ability of restaurants to offer takeout alcohol,” NYSLA wrote. “With the state’s declaration of emergency expiring Thursday, all temporary suspensions and guidelines related to the pandemic, including privileges for bars, restaurants and manufacturers to sell take-out drinks, will end after June 24. “
Rickerson Bar is an example of the precarious climate, even as the state of emergency has ended. Someday Bar purchased take-out cups, vacuum sealer, and plastic vacuum bags to produce take-out cocktails, which are materials suddenly rendered useless without legal take-out. She estimates that on certain days, daily take-out liquor sales are equivalent to 15 extra tables of sales. That’s $ 2,000 to $ 4,000 more per week, she estimates.
“By doing take out, we are able to double our capacity because people have the option of walking around with a drink instead of grabbing real estate for a client who wants to sit down,” she said.
Those sales, she says, saved Someday Bar when on-site dining was closed and still help keep the lights on.
“What’s frustrating is that we’re coming back to this idea of normalcy, but we all know this industry is far from back to normal,” she says. “We have been closed for a year and a half. [To-go and delivery permissions] should at least be extended for the time we’ve been closed to make up for that. “
Sother Teague, director of drinks at New York cocktail bar Amor y Amargo, said in an Instagram post that take-out drinks made up 9.5% of the bar’s total revenue. He says he bought bottles, tamper-evident caps and personalized labels for drinkers that cannot be reused. The financial impacts of COVID, he says, can still shut down businesses.
“We’ve been standing still for so long and finally getting ashore doesn’t automatically mean we’re saved,” Teague wrote on Instagram. “We can still die from exhaustion or malnutrition. ”
In the short term, companies like Teague and Rickerson are forced to solve problems. They take care of everything from excess materials to staff shortages – Rickerson has been a bartender three shifts a week and also cooks on and off when she can’t find staff in the back of the house. Now she also finds herself enforcing the take-out alcohol ban in conversations with clients who were unaware of the sudden change in NYSLA policy and who are sometimes unhappy with it.
Bean says it looks like the early days of the pandemic again, when regulations seemingly changed by the minute and the industry was in a state of panic.
This week, Bean spent two days briefing businesses in his district of the NYSLA decision; many don’t have Twitter accounts and haven’t seen the news, which hasn’t been posted on the agency’s website for hours. She describes the communication as “disjointed and uncoordinated,” which she says has been hallmark of NYSLA throughout the pandemic.
Beyond the short-term confusion, Bean fears long-term effects for the city’s hotel businesses. She fears that a lack of transparency in how NYSLA and the state government make decisions will discourage small businesses from defending themselves in regulatory matters, which some industry groups or lobbyists might. be delighted.
“Things like this can really slow people down in terms of their willingness to commit, as their time is already limited and they quickly start to feel like they are bumping their heads against a brick wall,” she says.
Bean says bars and restaurants in his neighborhood are grappling with rising rents as the public demands that businesses pay workers better wages and provide health insurance. In an industry where profit margins are already low (3-5% on average), the money for higher wages and benefits has to come from somewhere. Bean thought that take-out cocktails could have been a tool for generating additional income that could help small restaurants and bars not only survive, but also thrive.
“If we’re going to look at the long-term survival of businesses and make sure they’re great employers, which we’d like to see, we need to think about how we can help support that,” she says. “[To-go alcohol sales] just seemed like a great income driver.