NYS legislative session ends without making ‘alcohol-to-go’ permanent

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — It’s last call for ‘alcohol-to-go’ in New York State after lawmakers ended their legislative session without passing a bill that would make the sale of take-out liquor permanent.

Restaurant owners say throughout the pandemic, alcohol-to-go sales have been critical, especially after the state closed indoor dining for several months.

“We were really able to reduce the margins of loss we were experiencing with the bar shut down,” said Michael Rizzo of Sports City Pizza Pub. “We could still move product and keep the customers and clientele happy while not giving them an opportunity to go elsewhere.”

The current extension of takeout alcohol is set to expire July 5. In a statement, the New York State Restaurant association said they’re frustrated by the State Legislature’s inaction. President Melissa Fleischut said lawmakers “chose to protect liquor stores’ antiquated monopoly.”

But some local liquor store owners say they doubt they’ll see a difference in sales with alcohol-to-go coming to an end.

“Those are people that are going to have dinner – have a drink with dinner – and maybe take it home. There weren’t too many people who were leaving their dinners and rushing to buy another bottle of wine,” said Dan Locche of Straight Up Wines & Liquors.

And despite this set back, some restaurant officials say they’re optimistic.

“I don’t think this is the end of it,” Rizzo said. “I think this will be revisited again and hopefully it will come out in our favor.”

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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