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Local restaurants and bars react to bill that will allow 'to-go' cocktails

Governor Ducey approves to-go cocktails
Posted at 9:29 PM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-22 01:41:53-04

TUCSON, Ariz. -- — Governor Doug Ducey signed H.B. 2773 into law on Friday, which is approving ‘to-go’ cocktails for Arizona restaurants and bars, but the law itself does not go into effect until at least October 1, 2021.

While details of the bill still need to be ironed out, local restaurant and bar owners and employees are calling this a big win.

“I think it’s great,” said George Shaar, the General Manager at Kon Tiki Restaurant & Lounge.

He says this decision is a step in the right direction.

“It allows a new opportunity for businesses to capture a new segment of the market,” Shaar added.

He says it’s especially important now, as most restaurants and bars are still not operating at full capacity.

Grant Krueger, the owner of Union Hospitality Group agrees. Though he says the logistics of House Bill 2773 can be confusing.

“No bars or restaurants, today, can sell to-go cocktails. However, 90 days after the end of the legislative session in Arizona, all these series 6 license holders which are the bars, and the series 7 which are the beer and wine bars would immediately be able to sell their product to go. Whereas the series 12 would then be able to apply to essentially lease this privilege from the state. So there's an additional license needed for restaurants to take advantage of this privilege,” Krueger told KGUN9.

Here what is currently written into law:

  • Restaurants will eventually be allowed to apply for a “lease permit” from the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control to sell to-go beer, wine, and cocktails with a food order and to also use third-party delivery services to fulfill those orders
  • Through Dec. 31, 2025, restaurants will have to "lease" that privilege from another bar with a liquor license.
  • Beginning Jan. 1, 2026, restaurants will be able to apply for that permit directly through the Department of Liquor.
  • Bars will be allowed to sell to-go cocktails, though they had the ability to serve to-go beer, growlers, and wine
  • Restaurants have to stop selling to-go alcohol when their kitchen stops selling food, and third-party contractors would not be able to deliver alcohol between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Even though there are many details to keep track of, both Krueger and Shaar say keeping up will pay off in the long run.

“When someone wants to, you know, still continue to enjoy their one night out, now hopefully they can reduce the risk of staying out and having that one more drink,” said Shaar.

“It’s going to be a tremendous benefit to the restaurant industry, an industry that suffered greatly during the coronavirus pandemic,” added Krueger.

“Now at least you’re offering us another dimension of opportunity that maybe might work out for some of us,” Shaar told KGUN9.

KGUN 9 has reached out to the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, and the Governor's office for in-depth clarification on the new bill, but they have yet to respond.