Bars unlikely to implement curbside sales, some owners say
April 23, 2020
The state recently approved curbside beer and wine sales for restaurants, bars and breweries and is considering allowing similar sales for marijuana businesses. These new regulations may not change much for Haines.
Earlier this month, in an effort to give businesses the ability to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board approved emergency regulations allowing curbside sales of factory-sealed beer and wine containers for restaurants and bars and limited delivery options for restaurants.
On March 17, the state issued a health mandate closing restaurants and bars, except for takeout or curbside service. However, under current law, restaurants and bars must sell alcohol on site to comply with their licensing requirements. After some deliberation, the governor approved the emergency regulations, ordering the suspension of laws in direct conflict with curbside sales.
Christy Tengs Fowler, who co-owns the Pioneer Bar and Bamboo Room restaurant with her husband, said, at present the change will not impact her business. Right now, she and her husband have no staff. The restaurant offers drive-thru breakfast and lunch service Friday through Sunday. “Adding beer and wine might not be much of an attraction that early in the day,” she said.
The new curbside rule could potentially allow them to bring back staff to do an evening drive-thru service, Fowler said, but she doesn’t want to do that unless she’s sure she’ll be able to pay employees. She said operation of a drive-thru alcohol business shouldn’t be too different from the liquor store she ran for 40 years. “(We) are familiar with off sales and don’t see any problems, except for maybe judging (a customer’s) level of sobriety and carding them from six feet away. Luckily, it’s a small town, and we are very familiar with our clientele,” she said.
“I don’t think the government should do more to keep bars operating right now,” Fowler said. She said she thinks the state is doing as much as is safe given the inherent risk of congregating. “We would rather lose money than lives.”
The governor announced Tuesday that he is taking steps to reopen the economy, including allowing restaurants to operate at 25% capacity. During the initial reopening phase, bars will remain closed.
Businesses interested in conducting curbside alcohol sales or alcohol delivery must email an application to the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, details available on the AMCO website.
Haines Brewing Company owners Paul Wheeler and Jeanne Kitayama said, though eligible, they have decided not to apply. They said they will continue selling to-go growlers, which they are allowed to do under their existing license.
Other liquor license holders contacted by the CVN did not respond to requests for comment.
The marijuana industry may soon be granted a similar ability to conduct curbside sales. The Marijuana Control Board passed the measure last week. The regulations now go to the governor for final approval. Winter Greens, Haines’ marijuana dispensary, could not be reached for comment by press time.