Business Owners Urge Mass. Not to Allow Cocktails to-Go to Expire

The pandemic-era policy permitting Massachusetts restaurants and bars to serve alcohol to-go is set to expire, but the owners of those businesses don't want to see that happen

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Massachusetts restaurant owners and advocates are fighting to keep selling cocktails to-go as they try to come back from the pandemic. They say the temporary program that is set to expire next month has become a lifesaver and they do not want to see it go away.

Trina's Starlite Lounge in Somerville has a to-go cocktail for every color of the rainbow. The restaurant has invested time and money into bottling them and have made a decent profit.

"It made us a bunch of money. It really helped us make up for a whole year of loss," managing partner Emma Hollander said.

There is still more to make up for, which is why they do not want to see to-go cocktails go anywhere.

"For us, we need to make as much money back as possible and we need every cent that we can get. Every penny, at this point, is crucial," Hollander said.

Nancy Caswell, the owner of Oak and Roawn in Boston and Brine in Newburyport, agrees. She said keeping the program around is vital, especially as restrictions start to loosen. Many in the industry still have no idea what the bar scene will look like.

"Who is to say they will be busy, two and three deep, at full capacity? We don't know that," Caswell said.

Their pleas are part of the reason why Sen. Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, is fighting on Beacon Hill to extend the relief measure for two more years.

"The move here is simple. This is common sense. Cocktails to-go helps add to the bottom line. It's not taking away from one industry and giving it to the other. It's simply helping these restaurants survive," DiZoglio said.

The Massachusetts Package Association disagrees. They argue the program jeopardizes their livelihoods and puts the state on a slippery slope.

"The emergency is over. It's time to go back to where we were prior to the emergency with laws on alcohol in Massachusetts," said the group's executive director, Rob Mellion.

In addition to cocktails-to go, restaurant advocates are also calling for the cap on third-party delivery fees and patios to be extended past June 15.

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