AUGUSTA –Sen. Louie Luchini, D-Ellsworth, has introduced a bill to support Maine’s small restaurants and bars to the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. The committee voted unanimously in favor of the bill, 9-0. LD 2174, “An Act to Extend the Ability of Restaurants and Bars to Serve Alcohol To Go,” will enable establishments to offer such service through April 2022.
“The hospitality industry is a huge part of our economy here in Hancock County and across Maine, and it’s been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sen. Luchini. “Over the past four months, bars and restaurants have adapted to safely meet the challenges of the moment, and the ability to sell alcohol to-go has helped many restaurants continue to serve their customers and keep employees working. It’s important that we continue to give our small businesses the tools they need to survive these difficult times.”
Gov. Janet Mills first granted bars and restaurants the ability to sell alcohol to-go via executive order on March 18. Extending this ability through April 2022 will ensure that restaurants and bars don’t lose a second summer season, should the pandemic continue to hamper business. By establishing this privilege in statute, the Legislature will be able to provide restaurants with greater certainty in planning their business models amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic.
Greg Dugal of Hospitality Maine submitted testimony in support of the bill: “I met with a restaurateur on York Beach around the Memorial Day holiday who told me that cocktails to–go saved his restaurant. Before adding this component to his menu, he was sinking. Cocktails to–go increased his business by double and put him at 50 percent of his original sales, thereby allowing him to survive and operate through this summer season.”
“Beer and wine and cocktails to–go may be the difference between success and failure” for small businesses during this pandemic, Dugal added.
LD 2174 is set to go to the Maine Senate and House for votes, pending the Legislature reconvening to a special session later this year.