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Businesses applaud Youngkin for signing bill to allow to-go cocktail sales


Businesses applauded Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin for signing legislation that allows them to continue selling to-go cocktails for at least another two years.

The governor signed House Bill 426 and Senate Bill 254, which extends a current law that allows bars and restaurants to offer to-go cocktails until July 1, 2024. The state began to allow these sales during the COVID-19 pandemic to alleviate some of the losses that businesses suffered from the forced closure of indoor dining. Some businesses and associations believe extending the law will help them in their post-pandemic recovery.

“We are very excited the governor is signing this [legislation],” Tony Stafford, the founder of the Ford’s Fish Shack chain in northern Virginia, told The Center Square.

“As a full service restaurant, having the ability to offer [to-go cocktails] along with our entrees will allow our customers to order a complete meal package from us,” Stafford said. “In the past, our customers would have to stop at an ABC store and pick up [their] own spirits to go along with their meal. This will make it convenient and also give us the ability to add additional revenue when we need to keep rebuilding. This will [definitely] benefit us and [we] thank Gov. Youngkin for signing this legislation.”

David Wojnar, the head of state public policy for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, said the legislation will help the hospitality industry in the commonwealth by allowing them to increase their revenue.

“Virginia’s bars and restaurants can rest a bit easier knowing cocktails to-go are here to stay for another two years,” Wojnar said in a statement. “This revenue-generating measure has provided much-needed support for local hospitality businesses and increased convenience for Virginia’s consumers. We thank Governor Youngkin and the legislature for extending cocktails to-go.”

Robert Melvin, the director of government affairs at the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association told The Center Square that extending the to-go cocktails policy has been one of the association’s priorities.

“It’s been a fantastic means of providing restaurants with new revenue streams that were unavailable prior to the pandemic, and according to [surveys] we have conducted, it’s supported by over 93% of restaurants and 78% of consumers in the commonwealth. Moreover, the sale of cocktails to-go allows 21+ consumers to purchase other alcoholic beverages in addition to beer and wine which were already permitted under state law. We believe that allowing consumers to have a variety of options is a win-win for restaurants and their patrons.”

During the height of the pandemic, 35 states enacted policies that allowed restaurants to sell to-go cocktails. Since the restrictions faded out, 18 states and the District of Columbia made their policies permanent. Apart from Virginia, 11 other states enacted legislation that prolongs the sale of to-go cocktails.

This article was originally posted on Businesses applaud Youngkin for signing bill to allow to-go cocktail sales

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