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Bill passed extends alcohol takeout and delivery

Local restaurants weigh in on decision
Bill passed extends alcohol takeout and delivery
Posted at 11:03 PM, Jun 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-16 07:59:50-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Cocktails can now be delivered directly to a customer's door and are also offered as takeout. It's a change brought on by the coronavirus that is here to stay, at least for another year. News5 spoke with local bars and restaurants to learn more about what this means for their survival, even after the pandemic ends.

Those with PigLatin Cocina said they are thrilled to learn they can continue selling takeout alcohol for another year. The restaurant is currently capitalizing on their outdoor seating for customers, who can purchase bottles of their popular drinks to go. "If this stayed this way forever, we would do it forever for sure," said Andres Velez, one of the owners.

Velez told News5 their alcohol sales account for around a quarter of their sales throughout the day. He said that has remained consistent because of the alcohol takeout option, despite the pandemic.

"It's a great model to have. Someone can walk into a liquor store and buy a bottle of liquor, it's the same exact process as buying here, except that we have better batched products," said Velez.

President of the Pikes Peak Chapter of the Restaurant Association Greg Howard said restaurants and small businesses are facing about a 2-year recovery period. Howard said some customers are still hesitant to dine in at a restaurant, so this new legislation really helps.

"To get your favorite cocktail from your favorite restaurant to go along with your favorite food, that's going to be really where the restaurants start to win," said Howard.

However, Howard said it's probably a 50/50 split when it comes to restaurants that see this change as a big benefit. For instance, Michael Carsten, owner of Chiba Bar, said they will continue to offer the service but will not depend on it.

"We are not going to pursue sales of to go alcohol, simply because we like to manage expectations and we can do that in the room, but outside of the building, it would be harder," said Carsten.

Carsten said it's a great option for their guests, but it did not financially compare to their previous sales. Before the pandemic, alcohol accounted for more than half of their sales. Now, those numbers have flipped, with their food making up three quarters of the profit and alcohol contributing to a quarter of it.

"It's been fine, it hasn't sort of added a ton to the bottom line... you would not want to buy a bottle of whiskey at retail to take home unless you were real desperate for whiskey," said Carsten, when talking about the markup for alcohol sold out of a restaurant versus a liquor store.

Not all places that serve liquor can abide by this new legislation. "Restaurants are eligible for this, but taprooms, distilleries and things like that aren't necessarily. They can sell alcohol to go through their vendors, but they can't necessarily continue on to sell it the way they're selling it now," said Howard.

Howard also said for now, the extension to July of 2021 is a good start, but it could eventually be extended beyond that date.

Gov. Jared Polis has not signed the Alcohol Beverage Retail Takeout and Delivery Bill as of Monday evening. To read the entirety of SB20-213, click here.