Is Alcohol Service Back At Restaurants?
By Tom Seest
At 6TopCharlie, we help people understand restaurant service by collecting information and news about restaurant service.
Understanding both state and local regulations governing alcohol sales can help your staff be responsible when providing this service.
Governor Cuomo signed legislation this week to modernize “archaic blue laws,” which restrict sales of alcohol on Sunday mornings from 4 AM until noon.
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Brunch lovers in New York now can begin ordering mimosas and bloody marys two hours earlier thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that officially repeals New York’s “blue laws,” which had prohibited restaurants and bars from serving alcohol before noon on Sundays for more than eight decades.
According to the Department of Liquor Control, bars, and restaurants may sell alcohol on-premises if they hold a valid Sunday sales permit from their local police chief and approval by either the town council or county commissioners. A license also requires payment of an associated fee.
Restaurants may obtain a license from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to sell beer and wine off-premise for consumption by customers in gas stations and grocery stores, for example, on Sundays. This permits these establishments to serve alcoholic beverages to patrons off-premise as part of an off-premise consumption service agreement.
Liquor can also be sold in motels and hotels that have at least 50 rooms and belong to colleges or universities, provided it comes packaged from a brewery with its initial container or glass packaging intact.
Ohio contains several “dry towns” which do not permit the sale of liquor. These communities include Argyle, Berkshire, Caneadea, Clymer Fremont Jasper Lapeer Neversink, and Orwell.
Grocery stores in Ohio may sell liquor for off-premise consumption. These stores must obtain a permit in order to sell this booze and may only do so during certain hours and dates.
State law sets the minimum drinking age at 21. Those aged under this requirement must be accompanied by either an adult or someone authorized by their parents when drinking alcohol.
Many bars, pubs, clubs, and sports venues can serve alcohol on the premises if they obtain a special license from their local government and obtain approval at a public hearing and approval by voters in their area. Such licenses must come with a $200 fee, with business hours between 8 a.m. and 1 a.m. on Sundays being permitted under these licenses.
Holiday celebrations provide an opportunity for family and friends to come together, but can also lead to increased alcohol consumption. As a restaurant worker, it’s essential that you are aware of when it is acceptable for you to serve alcohol to customers.
General restaurant licensing laws permit them to serve alcohol at private functions if it does not constitute an open bar or public event. However, certain states have restrictions that should be considered before planning any special celebration with alcohol.
Illinois law prohibits selling beer and wine on Christmas Day at establishments with liquor licenses – such as grocery stores or drugstores. This prohibition extends to any establishment with such licenses that offers beer or wine sales on this holiday, such as liquor stores.
Grocery stores can only sell full-strength beer and wine throughout most of the year; however, starting January 1, they will also begin offering champagne and sparkling wines for sale.
New York state’s “Brunch Bill” allows restaurants to start serving alcohol earlier on Sunday mornings than their Prohibition-era laws allow, which has proven popular with Irish pubs.
Many other states also impose similar rules limiting when bars and restaurants can serve alcohol, so those working at restaurants should be cognizant of these regulations to prevent themselves from getting into legal issues.
Some states, like Colorado, have laws prohibiting restaurants from selling alcohol on certain holidays and bars from offering drinks at less than the regular cost during certain weeks.
Alaska bars cannot provide free drinks or serve two drinks simultaneously to their patrons because people tend to overindulge during holidays, increasing the chance of accidents occurring.
An effective way of ensuring that your employees don’t go too far in their alcohol consumption is hiring a professional bartender or server who specializes in monitoring customer consumption of booze. They will use their expertise to keep the amount of booze served to your guests within safe levels – thus helping avoid any fines or other problems with licensing authorities.
Special events are one-time, annual, or recurring occasions that utilize public property (streets, sidewalks, and parking areas) outside their normal use patterns – these events may include festivals, parades, athletic or recreation tournaments, as well as gatherings that involve the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
To ensure that special events are planned appropriately and do not cause harm or disruption to public or private property, a special event permit must be obtained prior to their holding date; an application for this permit should be sent directly to the City Clerk’s Office a minimum of 60 days in advance for smaller events, and up to one year prior for larger ones.
If the event involves street closures or blockages, signatures from affected residents and businesses must be collected prior to its taking place in order to assist the police department in maintaining public safety throughout its duration.
Applying for a special event permit must be submitted using an official legal form available here, which must then be sent directly to the City for review and issuing of the permit once all necessary approvals have been obtained.
An event manager who wishes to serve alcohol at any indoor or outdoor event must apply for and obtain a Special Permit; these permits will then be issued directly by the city to that establishment (bar, restaurant, sporting event, etc). A Special Permit does not give a license for violation of city codes, ordinances, or rules.
Special events can cause numerous negative side-effects, including a) noise and disturbance to local communities and travelers; b) interference with normal businesses trading in the area; c) damage to public or private property; d) injury and deaths at events attended by attendees; and e) traffic congestion due to large crowds and road closures.
Although special events do have their disadvantages, there are also many positive aspects associated with them. First of all, large crowds at certain events can help promote tourism in that region as well as provide other economic advantages to those hosting them. Furthermore, special events provide companies with additional revenue streams, which allow them to remain competitive by creating additional sources of income streams for themselves through special events.
Alcohol sales represent an invaluable revenue stream for restaurants, and many have implemented strategies to sell it to go in order to boost takeout and delivery sales, keep some staff members employed, and increase average check sizes.
As part of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, several states and cities relaxed dining restrictions in order to encourage restaurant owners to sell liquor to go. By doing this, many have enabled restaurants to generate additional funds that allowed them to weather the financial storm better while remaining open.
Some laws related to alcohol delivery have become permanent while others will end at their term limit, making it important for businesses to check local policies regarding the delivery of alcohol responsibly and remain compliant.
Vermont restaurants and bars can now sell beer, wine, spirits, and “spirit-based products” (such as cocktails) for takeout or delivery as long as they accompany meals. This law will remain in place until January 2022 – for updates, please reach out to your state liquor agency.
As some states and municipalities impose more stringent regulations than others, it’s wise to research local requirements if you want to serve alcohol at your restaurant. Make sure you and your staff fully comprehend all applicable rules in your location when serving alcohol!
Considerations should also be given to your employees’ training needs. Make sure all servers and bartenders have received alcohol training to recognize when someone appears drunk, cutting them off from service in order to protect your business and staff members’ livelihoods. This may help avoid legal complications with your business and protect staff members.
An eatery’s alcohol policy depends on its specific concept and food offerings; for instance, Mexican restaurants may employ a “bring your own tequila” policy, permitting guests to bring in their favorite tequilas, or margarita mixes with limes while prohibiting other types of alcoholic beverages from entering.
Alcohol policies at restaurants can often be an arduous subject due to local and national laws that vary considerably from state to state. Therefore, it’s advisable that you contact both your restaurant of choice as well as any government agencies regulating laws in your city for guidance.
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