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New Bill Would Allow Restaurants to Serve Carryout Cocktails

Local restaurants may see a new source of income through to-go cocktails

During a North Carolina General Assembly special session called so lawmakers can address policy and funding issues raised by the COVID-19 crisis, lawmakers filed a bill on Tuesday that would allow for bars and restaurants statewide to offer delivery and carryout cocktails for as long as Gov. Cooper’s state-of-emergency order is in effect. 

The provision was added to House Bill 1043, also known as “COVID-19 Time Sensitive Matters,” introduced by House Majority Leader Rep. John Bell (R) of eastern North Carolina, Rep. Darren Jackson (D) of Wake County, and Rep. David Lewis (R) of Harnett County. The law calls for the ABC Commission to allow permitted restaurant owners to include mixed alcoholic beverages in carryout or delivery orders, only alongside food orders and packaged in a container that would prevent consumption without removal of a lid or cap.

The current law does not allow for mixed beverages containing spirituous liquor to be taken off premise in North Carolina, even though an establishment may hold a permit to sell spirituous liquor.

H.B. 1043 was passed along to the Rules committee on Wednesday, but is expected to pass through relatively quickly, as the bill literally has “Time Sensitive” in the title. States like Indiana and Ohio have passed similar laws to help the struggling restaurant industry find new revenue sources,  while people in Michigan and Texas have called on government officials to do so with petitions. 

“This is a common- sense step that will help keep restaurants afloat and save jobs,” Bell tweeted on Wednesday. 

New Camp North End juke joint Leah & Louise has sold cocktail kits made by bar manager Justin Hazelton during the crisis, as have other restaurants such as Bardo and Dilworth Tasting Room. Though the kits have grown in popularity, co-owner Greg Collier on Wednesday said the potential to serve carryout cocktails could prove more helpful. 

“We have had such success with the cocktail kits in collaboration with Camp North End,” Collier said. “Giving Justin the option to do his thing would help us thrive.”

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