Mass. Bill Permitting Takeout Cocktails Would Give Restaurants Financial Lifeline

The proposed bill would allow cocktails to be sold in sealed containers with food orders with a 64-ounce limit

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Massachusetts restaurants may soon be packing up mixed drinks to-go with your takeout order.

The measure, part of a broader restaurant relief package, is making its way through the legislature. The bill would allow cocktails to be sold in sealed containers with take-out food orders with a 64-ounce limit.

Chef Michael Schlow owns 16 restaurants across the country, including several in Massachusetts. He has been selling to-go cocktails at his Washington D.C. restaurants for weeks and says it’s a huge boost to sales. 

"At Tico in D.C., we sell individual margaritas that look like they are in an IV bag,” Schlow said. "They are sealed and they can pour it onto ice and make themselves a drink. We've done the work for them, and that somedays can be 20, 30, 40% of our sales. It really does help out. When you can get another $15 here and $15 there it really adds up in a hurry to us when we're dealing with such a small fraction of what once was our revenue."

Massachusetts restaurants are set to resume outdoor dining when the state enters the next phase of its reopening plan, but Bob Luz, president of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, says takeout will remain a crucial part of their business moving forward and this legislation helps. 

"Drinks to-go is just one more piece of the puzzle in trying to put together a series of steps that help restaurants get through this," Luz explained. "It's a series of smaller initiatives that the legislature clearly sees as very important that's going to help as many restaurants as possible to maneuver through this and survive on the other side." 

The bill also includes a provision waiving late fees, and interest on delayed meals tax payments, and allows municipal approval for outdoor dining, expediting the licensing process for restaurants seeking permits to put tables outside. 

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