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Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board ends to-go alcohol sales at bars, restaurants

That policy was allowed to lapse on Tuesday, September 15.

Posted: Sep 16, 2020 11:52 PM

As bars and restaurants continue to recover financially from the impacts of the pandemic, one of the tools added back in the spring has been retired.

Back on March 18, the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board created an emergency rule to allow for the sale of unopened containers of alcohol. That policy was allowed to lapse on Tuesday, September 15.

A bartender at Rosie's Mexican Cantina mixes a margarita for a customer. The Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board ended its policy of allowing restaurants and bars to sell to-go alcohol. A bartender at Rosie's Mexican Cantina mixes a margarita for a customer. The Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board ended its policy of allowing restaurants and bars to sell to-go alcohol.

Tod Craig, the acting general manager for Rosie’s Mexican Cantina on University Drive, said when the policy was enacted back in March, it provided some much needed income for the restaurant.

“It was a great impact. We really appreciate the state for doing that because it really helped with curbside. It kind of made a one-stop-shop with our guests,” Craig said.

The original rule was created to last 120 days. Because of its popularity and impact, the ABC Board voted to extend the rule until September 15.

However, as the summer went on and more people became increasingly comfortable with going out to restaurants and bars, the demand for bottles to-go from non-ABC stores started to decline.

“As summer went along, and things started to open back up, the board realized that there weren't as many people taking advantage of that,” said Daniel Dye, a spokesperson for the ABC board.

During the height of their sales, Craig said Rosie’s was selling between 30-40 margarita kits per day during the week and sometimes around 80 on the weekends.

Toward the end of the policy, he said they were only selling about two or three kits each week.

“Even through the course of our dining rooms being open, it's starting to get busier and busier. So more people are feeling more comfortable about getting out. And so that, I think, has caused a drop off of the backdoor sales and the alcohol,” Craig said.

Dean Argo, the Manager of Government Relations & Communications for the ABC Board, said right now “there are no plans to extend the emergency rule a second time.”

“ABC Licensees we’re informed of the emergency rule and of the date of termination by email when the emergency rule was first adopted and a second time in July when it was extended.”

Craig said that despite the smaller numbers of to-go alcohol sales, he still hopes that the board will vote to renew policy. The ABC Board is scheduled to hold its next regular meeting on September 24.

The policy isn’t a part of the agenda, but Dye said there’s a good chance they will address both the to-go sale rule as well as the restriction on alcohol sales after 11 p.m.

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