Jan. 10, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
Drinks-to-go will be making a comeback offering some respite for the bruised Irish New York City bar and restaurant industry – a topic we covered on The Long Hall Podcast recently.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday that alcoholic beverages will soon be available for takeout and delivery, marking the return of a provision that was popular for struggling bars and restaurants during the height of the pandemic.
“We’re… going to do something bars and restaurants have been asking for,” Hochul said during her first State of the State address Wednesday. “To once again allow the sale of to-go drinks, a critical revenue stream during the lean times last year.”
The temporary measure ended on June 24, 2021, having been in place for around 15 months to help sustain bars and restaurants. Both the New York State Senate and Assembly had introduced bills that would have extended to-go cocktails for at least another year, but neither legislative body had brought them to a vote before the end of the legislative session on June 10.
The provision had proven crucial for many establishments — particularly at the beginning of the pandemic — after they were ordered closed for in-person patronage as part of the state’s lockdown strategy to help stop the spread of the virus. It became less vital to the survival of bars as capacity limits were lifted.
Nevertheless, Hochul touted the measure as an important factor in reviving the battered industry — although she did not give a timeline as to when the provision will return.
She also said bar and restaurants would soon be able to get a tax credit to purchase heaters and seating for outdoor dining purposes, to help them generate some much-needed cash.
“So many small businesses were pushed to the brink,” Hochul said. “Thousands of bars and restaurants – the souls of our neighborhoods – have had to close.”
The news of the pending return of to-go drinks was welcomed by many bar and restaurant operators, including Nick Murphy, the Irish owner of Bar 43 in Sunnyside.
“It is definitely good for the industry and it’s not going to infringe on liquor stores losing out on sales,” Murphy said. “It’s great for bars that specialize in cocktails.”
Murphy said that the measure would help, although it would not have a major impact on his bottom line.
He also said that is difficult for many establishments to offer to-go cocktails at present since there is a shortage of cups in which to serve them in. Many bars, he said, are unable to get them.