Bill introduced to make to-go alcohol sales permanent



AUGUSTA — Earlier this month, Sen. Louis Luchini (D-Ellsworth) introduced a bill to support Maine’s hospitality industry by permanently allowing bars, restaurants and distilleries to sell alcohol to-go.  

LD 1751, “An Act To Make Permanent the Changes to the Liquor Laws Made by Public Law 2021, Chapters 3 and 91,” was the subject of a public hearing before the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. 

“Maine’s hospitality industry has faced tremendous challenges these past two years, yet business owners and employees have adapted to keep their doors open while safely serving customers,” said Sen. Luchini, who serves as senate chair of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. “One big part of this has been allowing the sale of alcohol to-go. I’ve spoken to dozens of bar, restaurant and craft beverage business owners over the past year, and many have said this ability has kept them afloat. Making this change permanent allows businesses to plan ahead and lets customers who may not feel comfortable dining out to enjoy a restaurant experience at home.” 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants and bars have been allowed to sell alcohol to customers through take-out and delivery service if the alcohol is accompanied by a food order. Last session, Sen. Luchini sponsored a law to extend this ability through Sept. 10, 2022, and to allow licensed Maine distilleries and small distilleries that operate tasting rooms but do not operate licensed on-premises retail establishments to sell spirits through take-out and delivery service unaccompanied by a food order. LD 1751 would make all of these changes permanent. 

“Fully two years from the beginning of the pandemic, the virus still rages. It has taken on different forms, but the devastation that is left on the hospitality industry, with restaurants specifically, will be hard to reverse. Most restauranteurs have modified service in some way and are trying different ways to keep their businesses solvent and viable, and beer and wine and cocktails to-go are just one of those fixes that in many instances has now become a big part of the business model,” said Greg Dugal of Hospitality Maine in testimony supporting the bill. “For this program to end abruptly as the statute sunsets could be devastating to our industry.” 

Also testifying in support of the bill was the Distilled Spirits Council, Maine’s Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, the Maine Tourism Association and several Maine businesses including Bow Street Beverage and Three of Strong Spirits. 

LD 1751 faces further action in committee. 

 

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