Many Dallas restaurants have pivoted from dine-in establishments to a combination of takeout, delivery, or makeshift drive-thrus in an effort to keep some amount of revenue flowing in as we live through a pandemic. But alcohol sales boost revenue and profit margins for restaurants. A lot.
In an effort to help our dining community grapple with the new reality of closed dining rooms, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has followed in the footsteps of states like New York, which now allow restaurants to sell booze for takeout and delivery. As of last night, March 18, Abbott “issued a waiver that will allow restaurants to deliver alcoholic beverages with food purchases to patrons, including beer, wine, and mixed drinks,” according to the governor’s statement.
“Under this waiver, effective immediately, restaurants with a mixed beverage permit may sell beer, wine, or mixed drinks for delivery as long as they are accompanied by food purchased from the restaurant.”
Yes, places like breweries, liquor stores, and wine bars could sell alcoholic beverages to go, but that’s typically not the case for most dine-in restaurants.
Previously in the state of Texas, as an employee of Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission clarified for me recently, “Only restaurants which hold a Wine and Beer Retailer’s Permit (BG) or a Beer Retail Dealer’s License (BE) are allowed to sell alcoholic beverages to go.” The TABC recently released new guidelines for restaurants with mixed beverage permits (and others) on how, exactly, to legally go about offering curbside pickup for alcohol.
“We worked over hard over the last couple of days [on the waiver],” says Emily Williams Knight, the president and CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association. Last spring, the TRA helped get legislation passed to allow for alcohol delivery in Texas, and in the last 24 hours they worked to get alcohol provided as curbside carryout as well.
This waiver helps restaurants transition to alcohol delivery and pickup. Right now, many third party delivery services have transitioned to mostly contact-less deliveries, which makes verifying legal drinking age in person complicated. But people like the CEO of Austin-based Favor delivery app, says Knight “has been excellent on [informing drivers] how to check ID without touching it.”
The logistics are tricky. Everyone’s still figuring it all as they go, but the new waiver and TABC guidelines should help small businesses navigate these waters and continue to generate revenue. “Everyone go out and get food is our message,” says Knight.
Many restaurants have already added alcohol to their pickup offerings. Places like Miriam Cocina are working on selling passion fruit mezcalitas and acapulqueña margarita in 32-ounce jars ($30) to go; Rodeo Goat has craft beer and Moontang (a moonshine and Tang one-two punch) available through curbside and drive-thru pickup; and MoMo Italian Kitchen has beer, wine, and old fashioned cocktails ($12) on offer with curbside food orders.
Curious if your favorite restaurant is opening their bar menu to-go? Ask them when you order.
This article has been updated at 5:37 p.m. with information from Emily Williams Knight, president and CEO of Texas Restaurant Association.