Take-out alcohol was a lifeline for many restaurants and bars in New York City amid the pandemic, but as of Thursday, the state will no longer allow such sales.
The end of take-out alcohol comes a week after New York City lifted most COVID-19 restrictions and as Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the end of the state’s pandemic emergency, 474 days after it began .
The New York State Liquor Authority told licensees on Wednesday that take-out drinks would disappear with all restrictions, and business owners are not happy with it.
“It was a source of income that we depended on to survive the pandemic,” said Victor Santos of the Mamajuana Cafe on Dyckman Street in Inwood. The restaurant served hundreds of take out drinks every weekend. For a while, it was the only way for them to make money.
Chef and owner Eric LeVine, who runs 317 Main Street in Farmingdale, previously told NBC New York that take-out cocktails made money when the food industry was down 60%. Yet even with the restaurant service approaching normal, he had hoped to continue the practice to help recoup the losses.
But lawmakers did not vote on a bill that would have extended take-out alcohol orders by one year.
The New York City Hospitality Alliance, which represents more than 24,000 restaurants in the five boroughs, says it will continue to fight for the return of take-out cocktails and blames the liquor store lobby for inaction in Albany, adding that liquor stores were complaining that they were losing business.
Santos says it doesn’t make sense: “You go to a liquor store, you can buy a bottle for $ 10, a cocktail would cost $ 14.”
According to a poll released in late May by the New York State Restaurant Association, 78% of New Yorkers wanted a law to permanently allow take-out cocktails. The statewide poll interviewed 700 people in the state between May 14 and May 20.
“Only in New York would elected officials ignore an overwhelming majority of the public,” Melissa Felischut, president and CEO of the NYS Restaurant Association, said in a statement. “Restaurants are struggling to find staff, keep up with rising costs, and manage a limited supply of products, and nearly two-thirds of applicants will not receive relief funding for restaurants. New York needs to do more to help, not hurt, our restaurant industry. “
While you can still order beer on the go like before the pandemic, many customers agree they should be able to do whatever they want with their other drinks.
Veronica Montilla of Washington Heights said, “I don’t see a reason why this should end. If you want a drink to go, you should be able to have it to go. If you drink responsibly, I don’t see a reason why they should take it away. “