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Restaurant Owners Pivot Services Amid Loosening Alcohol Laws During COVID-19

May 07, 2020

Some state liquor agencies have loosened alcohol restrictions for restaurants during the COVID-19 health crisis. In an effort to help boost revenue for bars and restaurants, many establishments can now offer alcohol for pick up or delivery. How can these new alcohol laws help you manage your restaurant during the Coronavirus? Our wholesale food and beverage suppliers have compiled helpful information.

New Restaurant Resources for Coronavirus: To-Go Alcohol Sales 

In certain states, bars and restaurants are now allowed to sell beer, wine, and liquor to-go with meals. Some states allow for alcohol delivery, while others are strictly pick up. Regulations vary, so do your research to ensure you are in compliance with your state laws. If you own an establishment in a state that allows to-go alcohol sales, the extra revenue could help stem some financial losses. 

Alcohol Sales and Restaurant Profits

Since COVID-19 has forced a  shift from dine-in to take-out, restaurant owners are missing out on a large part of their revenue - alcohol sales. Beer, wine, and liquor make up 20 to 30 percent of restaurant sales nationwide. Happy hour sales can generate up to 60 percent weekly. If a restaurant's beverage costs are in check, these alcohol sales can have a high profit margin, with low upfront costs. 

Luckily, some states have recognized that the inability to offer alcohol to restaurant patrons means a dramatic loss of potential earnings. That’s where out-the-door alcohol sales come in. These new sales can help restaurant owners sell through their liquor inventory and recoup some much needed beverage revenue.   

How New COVID-19 Liquor Laws Can Benefit Your Business

Alcohol sales have grown since shelter-in-place orders have taken hold. Some stats show alcohol sales increased by 55 percent and online alcohol sales have skyrocketed 243 percent! Restaurants across the country are jumping in on the chance to sell beer, wine, and cocktails to-go. Not only are liquor sales lucrative, but customers are looking for easy and safe ways to bring alcohol home.

Maximize your sales by getting creative:

  • Develop a ‘Quarantini’ cocktail menu. Some states, like California, are allowing restaurants to serve pre-mixed cocktails to-go with the purchase of food.
  • Create a wine pairing for your to-go meals. Help your customers turn dinner at home into an elevated experience. Offer wine suggestions for your menu items at different price points. 
  • Offer a beer flight. Have a variety of local brews? Why not put together a can or bottle beer flight for customers to try at home? Encourage them to post their favorites on social media. 

Complying with Current State Alcohol Regulations 

While some states have loosened their liquor regulations, restaurants offering to-go and delivery alcohol still have to adhere to the law. Standard rules, like not serving alcohol to a minor or an intoxicated person, still apply. Beyond that, new regulations are also in effect. For example, New York drivers delivering alcohol must keep a copy of their liquor license in the vehicle. In Oregon, the new law allows restaurants to sell beer and wine for pick up at the establishment only. Breweries and wineries can offer delivery. Both require proof of identification. 

Smart Foodservice: Your Wholesale Beverage Partner

At Smart Foodservice we know how important it is for restaurant and bar owners to keep costs in check without sacrificing quality. We carry exceptional, competitively priced beverage essentials: from mixers, to bar condiments, to fruits and herbs. With multiple locations throughout the U.S. we are here to help you get the best products to achieve your restaurant’s unique beverage needs. 


Click to Download All of Our Quarantini Coloring Pages

What a wonderful way to spend a cocktail hour! 

Color in your favorite quarantini beverage and toast to your artistic endeavor.

These recipes include fresh, healthy ingredients for a boost during cocktail hour. 

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