Pipeline and Sparky's are two Mount Shasta businesses who are taking advantage of the state's relaxed regulations.
Californians craving a drink while sheltering in place may soon be able to pick up a bottle from their favorite restaurant or nearby bar.
After Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ordered a statewide shut down of nonessential business operations to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control relaxed multiple enforcement measures in hopes of creating some new ways for establishments to serve customers and keep their businesses afloat.
That includes allowing licensees to sell alcohol as a to-go order.
John Carr, the spokesman for ABC, said the department wanted to relax regulations to support the alcoholic beverage industry at a time when many businesses are struggling. They've heard from licensees who are concerned about how to stay in business if they don't serve food and are deemed nonessential.
"We listened to their concerns and said 'Let's work on some regulatory relief where we can relax some the regulations to serve customers,'" he said.
Business closures and limited gatherings to slow the spread of the coronavirus comes at a particularly rough time for new businesses.
Kevin Flynn, who opened Pipeline Craft Taps and Kitchen just months ago in Mount Shasta, said he is trying to “limit the carnage” to his budding business’ bottom line.
He and his staff scrambled to implement a quick and easy online ordering platform to minimize contact between his employees and customers and practice social distancing. And thanks to the ABC’s relaxed restrictions, Flynn is now offering customers the option to bring in a growler to get a beer on tap to go.
Sparky’s Landing, which opened a few months before Pipeline and right next door, is also working on a delivery service, aiming to begin next week.
“We will be limiting our menu to aizza, pastas and burgers,” and, now, beer and wine.
Bars that typically sell drinks to consume on the premises will be allowed to sell products that are in pre-packaged containers to-go – such as bottles of beer or wine, according to the notice. But patrons can't stay at the bar under the current shelter-in-place order; the drinks can only be picked up.
Additionally, establishments that already sell alcohol can deliver their products, such as a wine bar that sells bottles.
In addition to selling pre-packaged containers, restaurants that have a license to sell alcohol can also sell or deliver single servings of beer, wine or pre-made cocktails if they’re packaged with a secure lid, according to the notice. That means a cup without sipping holes or straws.
Additionally, to-go orders of alcohol also have to be kept in the trunk of a car when being transported, the ABC says.
During this time of rapidly changing rules and guidance, people may want to call or check the social media feeds of restaurants to determine what they can order. While many restaurants are offering take-out or delivery some have shut down altogether, and different types of licensees will have varying rules to follow.
ABC is working on a Q-and-A document to help guide licensees during this time. California has about 93,000 establishments licensed to sell alcohol, Carr said.
In addition to the sales change, ABC has also suspended enforcement of a few other rules in an attempt to make it easier for bars to stay afloat. Establishments will be allowed to:
• Serve take-out sales to a vehicle or through a drive-up window
• Sell to other retailers
• Make returns of alcoholic beverage products to manufacturers or wholesalers
California has about 1.8 million people who work in the restaurant industry or about 11% of the state's workforce, so creating ways for them to stay afloat during these unprecendented times is important for the economy.