To-go alcohol sales in limbo as budget talks stall

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. Alcohol-to-go became a popular option for many New Yorkers during the pandemic while many bars and restaurants struggled to stay afloat, which is why Governor Hochul is hoping to reinstate the regulation as part of the 2023 budget.

Add alcohol to-go to the many layers of the 2023 budget that lay in limbo right now as lawmakers scramble to pass something well beyond the April 1 deadline.

For patrons like Dennis Glavis at Temple Bar in Rochester, alcohol-to-go doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

“I think it would help people that can’t get to a store or to help the economy of the bar,” Glavis said.

The emergency regulation, which lapsed in June 2021 and allowed New Yorkers to order alcohol-to-go, could be brought back for a temporary three-year period if the budget is passed.

This is something that Temple Bar patron Kyle Johnson said makes sense.

“If people, even that don’t necessarily want to come in, just don’t want to come in, swing through, grab some food, grab some drinks, either way, it will make the bars more money,” Johnson said. “It will provide more for their consumers and overall I think it’s a great idea.”

According to the budget measure, while alcohol sales by the bottle would still be prohibited, to-go drinks would still need to be purchased along with a “substantial food item.”

These are safety precautions that Glavis said make sense if you are going to make alcohol to-go an option for customers.

“People in the neighborhood can come get beer or a drink and take it home to go, I mean as long as you aren’t driving,” Glavis said. “I mean we Ubered here. You can take some beers if you don’t have any at home and take them with you.”

All bars and restaurants with licenses for on-site consumption would be eligible to sell to-go alcoholic beverages. However, local laws governing open containers would remain in place.

News10NBC reached out to the owner of Temple Bar for comment on the proposed measure and he declined to comment. As we enter the Easter holiday weekend, it’s unclear when a final budget measure will be passed.