North Carolina lawmakers consider allowing restaurants to sell mixed cocktails to-go during pandemic

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- North Carolina lawmakers are considering allowing restaurants to sell take-out mixed alcoholic drinks while they remain closed to dine-in customers during the pandemic.

The proposal, submitted Tuesday when the North Carolina General Assembly opened its 2020 session, would allow restaurants to sell up to two mixed drinks per food order for takeout and delivery.

According to the proposal, the drinks would need to be sold "in a container with a secure lid or cap and in a manner designed to prevent consumption without removal of the lid or cap."

Customers would not be able to purchase a mixed cocktail drink without the purchase of a food item.
Some restaurants in the Triangle are already selling cocktail mix, without the alcohol, for consumers to add their own at home.

Lady Luck opened on Glenwood South in mid-March but had to shut down two days later due to the pandemic.

For the last month, they've offered a limited curbside menu. But their real money-maker would be their unique cocktails. And that could soon be a reality.

Executive chef Kevin Ruiz said this potential legislation would be a game-changer for his business.

"When you're thinking about a restaurant, food margins are always going to be really tight and you're always going to make most of your money on the alcohol," he said. "We can sell beer to-go and wine to-go but it dampers our numbers a lot."

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If passed, this would only be an option during the pandemic.

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If passed, the option would only be available during the pandemic.

There was hope among some bar owners who are reeling in the pandemic that the measure that passed the House today could be a lifeline to their watering holes. But, with the bill just a step away from the governor's desk, many wonder if this is last call for their livelihood.

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"Being able to do curbside pickup of two cocktails per customer would be huge for us," said Zack Medford, senior partner of Isaac Hunter Hospitality Group which operates four bars in Raleigh and one in Wilmington.

Medford's shuttered bars would remain closed, even if the measure passes, because none of them serve food. The measure only allows take-out mixed drinks at establishments that also serve food. Medford's businesses don't even have a kitchen.

"It's definitely gut-wrenching when they came up with a relief package that helps out some of the industry but doesn't go all the way to help out everyone in the industry. We're all out of work. We all need this," Medford said.

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