NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — While Gov. Kathy Hochul is renewing support for reviving takeout drinks from bars and restaurants, it’s far from being a done deal.
Previous efforts to turn the pandemic policy into law was met with strong opposition, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Wednesday.
In a virtual toast to restaurants and bars, Hochul gave her blessing to revive authorization of alcohol to-go. The policy allows for drinks to be purchased for takeout and was created as a temporary means to keep business afloat during the height of the pandemic.
However, it faced an uphill battle when proposals tried to make it more permanent.
“Hugely pleased that the governor is throwing the weight of her office behind this, recognizing that this is a part of helping small businesses, in particular in New York, and helping to show that New York is open for business,” Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy said.
Fahy is among a handful of state lawmakers who previously introduced legislation in support of alcohol to-go that was stopped in its tracks.
“I really thought that this, it was so popular. I don’t think we saw quite the opposition coming,” Fahy said.
Opposition has come from the powerful New York State Liquor Store Association.
It said during the height of the pandemic, “This temporary privilege resulted in an oversaturation of the wine and liquor market, numerous violations of public health law,” and alleged businesses benefitting from the policy began selling bottles of liquor that would be in direct competition.
“Yes, let’s support the restaurants, but let’s not dump this idea because it’s a good money maker for one industry like that on the residents that live in these neighborhoods,” said Leif Arntzen of the West Village.
This time around, pushback may also come from neighborhoods.
Arntzen is among residents fighting the permanent expansion of the city’s outdoor dining structures. They say large crowds, noise, and trash impacted the quality of life in the West Village, which is densely populated with restaurants and bars.
Arntzen said adding alcohol to-go will make things worse.
“If there was a plan and they went and did the due diligence, what kind of environmental impact would this be, that’s one thing. But they’re not doing that,” Arntzen said.
Meanwhile, Le Marais restaurant in a now-quiet Times Square is empty yet again — another blow to its recovery.
“We never sold a lot of cocktails to go, but a lot of our clients who order from home to deliver, they like to order a bottle of wine from us,” owner Jose Meirelles said.
For Meirelles, alcohol to go would not be a financial windfall for his business, but every little bit helps.
“I would not turn this restaurant into a liquor store or a wine store, of course, but it adds up to the sales,” Meirelles said.
He says during these unpredictable times, every little bit helps.
According to a Columbia University study, liquor stores have seen an increase in sales during the pandemic, by billions of dollars. Meanwhile, bars and restaurants are still struggling to get back to pre-pandemic levels.
Alcohol to-go will likely be discussed by lawmakers after Gov. Hochul submits her budget proposal, but Assemblywoman Fahy wants it to start sooner, citing the winter as an especially difficult time for bars and restaurants.