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Allow Restaurants & Taverns to Make Limited Purchases from Liquor Stores

May 20, 20204

The NYC Hospitality Alliance, Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association, NYS Restaurant Association and NYS Latino Restaurant, Bar & Lounge Association, submitted a Memorandum in Support of S2853 – A9112, which if enacted will allow Restaurants & Taverns to Make Limited Purchases from Liquor Stores.

Read Our Letter and Learn More About the Issue:

The organizations above, representing the state’s 20,000+ on-premises licensees across New York State, support this bill to allow restaurants and taverns to make limited purchases from liquor stores which is currently prohibited by law. It addresses a regular and recurring problem for New York restaurants and taverns that run out of a particular brand of liquor and/or wine over weekends or another time when a delivery from the designated wholesaler is not available. New York wholesalers don’t deliver to licensed premises on weekends, holidays, and during summer vacation. And since the law requires retailers to purchase from wholesalers, our members are stuck without these products to serve to their customers until their next delivery.

This bill will solve that problem by expressly allowing New York restaurants and taverns to purchase up to a total of 12 bottles of liquor and/or wine from local package stores each week. The liquor stores purchase these products from the same wholesalers that restaurants and taverns do so there’s no loss of business for any of New York’s liquor wholesalers. And since New York’s liquor stores are all independently owned and embedded within their communities, this bill will provide economic assistance to these small businesses all across the state.

The State Liquor Authority already has rules and procedures in place to ensure bookkeeping requirements are met by restaurants and taverns, thereby alleviating any concerns regarding possible excessive or illegal sales of this type. Restaurants and taverns are required to maintain copies of invoices of their purchases for inspection by the SLA and the Department of Tax & Finance. They will be subject to the same enforcement processes currently used to deter and detect violations of the alcohol beverage and tax laws – typically triggered by complaints from competitors or the distributors. Legalizing sales from liquor stores to restaurants & taverns is likely to cause an increase in sales tax revenue as a result of the attention that will be paid to these transactions by the State of New York.

New York would join six (6) other states that already allow some form of retail to retail sales, so there is no concern about this being some new threat to undercut the Three-Tier System. And it’s not groundbreaking for New York either. State law already has a provision for beer licensees with dual retail and wholesale privileges. A great deal of beer is sold to restaurants and bars by these licensees so the SLA and the Tax Department have many years of experience ensuring compliance with the laws, rules, and regulations that govern those sales.

This bill will solve a long-standing problem for small restaurants and taverns, provide new economic opportunity for liquor stores throughout the state, and offer exposure for New York’s craft distilled spirits and wine without creating any problems for the public or state regulators.

We urge you to support this legislation and to work with us to achieve its adoption.