Online Originals: Cocktails to-go bill may be reintroduced to save restaurant and bar business

Online Originals

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WCNT) — North Carolina restaurant owners are again asking state leaders to help them survive the impact of the coronavirus.

On Monday, the National Restaurant Association released a survey data showing that 110,000 restaurants have closed permanently throughout the pandemic. The Bureau of Labor Statistics November employment reports shows that food and drinking places lost 17,400 jobs just last month. And they are still down over 2.1 million jobs since the start of the pandemic. That’s far more than any other industry.

Although restaurants were allowed to have take-out service, sales alone were not enough to keep many places afloat. Alcohol sales are the biggest moneymaker for these industries.

That’s why many states, like Tennessee, opted to temporarily relax liquor laws throughout the pandemic. This allowed bars and restaurants to serve to-go cocktails to customers. Many restaurant and bar owners said this helped to close their margins and gain back some of the money lost.

Over the summer, North Carolina legislators proposed a similar bill that would allow North Carolina bars and restaurants to sell takeout mixed drinks. That bill was shot down when it reached the state Senate floor.

On Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper added a new set of regulations that directly affect the service industry. The governor ordered all state restaurants must close by 10 p.m. and no alcohol sales are allowed after 9 p.m.

Now that Cooper has issued that modified stay-at-home order, state legislators say they have plans to reintroduce the bill. Many local restaurants/bars are hopeful it gets passed this time around. They say it could be a lifeline for many in North Carolina.

Tandi Wilson owns multiple local bars and restaurants, one of them is Christy’s Euro Pub in Greenville. Wilson said the new restrictions mean they essentially lose two hours of possible liquor sales. Wilson said it’s not worth it because, “you end up spending more on labor and food costs because you’re not making that back without the sale of alcohol.”

Wilson said she, along with other local restaurant and bar owners, want to push this bill again. They, unfortunately, aren’t hopeful about the results because of what happened last time.

So many people got together, restaurant owners, bar owners in North Carolina and just petitioned our government to do this for us. But being shot down once is tough enough.

Tandi Wilson – Local Bar and Restaurant Owner

Wilson said it is more important now than ever before because it is getting colder outside. That means fewer people will be sitting outside, which is a place they were previously able to gather under previous state coronavirus restrictions.

With limited seating indoors and outdoors already, bars and restaurants just won’t have the space to accommodate as many customers. That, added on with fewer business hours and liquor sales, Wilson said, equates to a business not making it this season.

Local restaurant and bar owners said if you want to support this bill and help your local restaurants and bars stay afloat, you should contact your local lawmaker.

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