A bill to allow the permanent sale of takeout and to-go alcoholic drinks such as cocktails unanimously passed the Senate on Monday.
Senate Bill 389, authored by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa), would specifically allow any holder of a retail on-sale liquor license or licensed brewery that operates an eating place to sell alcoholic beverages for off-sale consumption for which their license permits on-sale consumption if the beverages are in manufacturer prepackaged containers. SB 389 also makes clear that all to-go sold alcoholic drinks, with the exception of beer, must be in a container with a secure cap or lid to stop it from being consumed without puncturing it to open it.
The bill would make temporary laws passed during the COVID-19 pandemic that allowed such sales fully legal, and would add to a current Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) law that allows restaurants and bars to sell to-go cocktails even if the buyer didn’t order food.
Senator Dodd wrote the bill to help restaurants and other establishments that sell cocktails recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as help restaurants find a new avenue of revenue after the pandemic. As restaurants nationwide have lost $165 billion in revenue since March of 2020 due to COVID-19 regulations such as lockdowns, SB 389 has been touted as a way to help reverse this trend.
“If allowing restaurants to sell carry-out cocktails helps keep their doors open, we must do it,” said Senator Dodd on Monday. “This is about preserving jobs and getting our economy back on track. I appreciate my Senate colleagues for their support.”
The Senator has noted the urgency and need of the bill since introducing it in February.
“If allowing restaurants to sell carry out cocktails alongside a meal helps keep their doors open, we must do it. Ultimately, it’s about preserving jobs and getting our economy back on track,” said Senator Dodd in a press release in February.
According to the National Restaurant Association and other organizations monitoring the financials of restaurants nationwide, 78% of restaurant owners who began selling take-out alcohol rehired laid off employees, a 16% increase over restaurants who hadn’t.
Statistics like that have convinced Democrats and Republicans alike of the necessity of SB 389, with the bill passing unanimously in prior committee votes, as well as through the entire Senate on Monday.
“We’ve had restaurant owners and employees contact us about this,” said “Dana”, an employee in the state capitol building. “We’ve had luxury bars in LA and Sonoma County ask for this to pass, and we’ve had bars that serve food that are one step above dive bars call in too. Pretty much any place covered by SB 389 wants it to pass because these takeout cocktails have been such a needed success during the past months. Some even attributed them to surviving the pandemic. You can see how everyone wants this to pass.”
SB 389 will be next heard in Assembly committees starting later this month.