Measure to keep to-go alcohol sales in place for years advances

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — Takeout orders have seen a big boom during the pandemic. Experts say the convenience of getting food picked up or delivered to your home will be hard to shake for many families around the nation. Here in Colorado, lawmakers want to add cocktails to the list of items you can get to go.

“It’s been a tremendous asset to the restaurants as a talking point, as a piece to show a little bit more love to our guests, incremental revenue that’s been really meaningful during a difficult time, it’s allowed us to showcase things that we haven’t historically been able to showcase,” Adam Reed, Big Red F Restaurant Group director of operations said.

Now lawmakers are looking to keep to-go alcohol in place for five years given the success restaurants saw in 2020.

“In a survey we did last year with Colorado restaurants, 87% told us they were able to drive some form of revenue for alcohol from to-go and delivery,” Colorado restaurant Association CEO Sonia Riggs said.

Bill sponsor and coffee shop owner Representative Colin Larson said he worked with groups committed to ending drunk driving and regulators to make sure if this becomes law, it will not turn into a safety issue.

“The specific limits we put on it are basically a liter of alcohol, liter of spirit alcohol and then kind of a comparable amount of beer or wine so it’d be a few drinks worth, but it would certainly help out with the restaurants and their ability to stay afloat especially because they have such a higher margin on their alcohol than they do on their food items,” Larson said.

Under the measure, cocktails must be placed in sealed containers with secured lids along with a warning statement not to remove the lid until the driver gets home. Full, unopened bottles of beer, wine and spirits can also be served to go. With the bill set to expire in 2026, Larson believes the industry will have plenty of time to make the new stream of dollars work for them.

“We want to make sure we have a built-in mechanism where we come back and revisit it. We don’t want to just pass this and say, ‘hey, everything is great!’ and then it turns out 10 years down the road there’s some issues. We don’t anticipate there being any problems, but we just want to make sure we have those safeguards in place,” Larson said.

The bill passed unopposed out of the House this week. It is off to the Senate where sponsors believe it will pass there as well.

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