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Local restaurants praise new alcohol to-go law

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 5:10 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Come July, margaritas to-go will be here to stay.

Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law on Thursday changing the takeout game.

Working for more than four years at Los Antojitos in St. Andrews, bartender Sophee Beall saw the fall of restaurants during the pandemic. In turn, she saw the rise of take-out orders.

“Our alcohol sales went through the roof and so did our food sales,” Beall said.

The rise in takeout may continue to grow in the near future.

“We sold like 35-40 gallons a day. It was insane,” Beall said.

A previous executive order allowing restaurants and bars to do alcohol take-out or delivery helped keep businesses afloat at the height of the pandemic. Now, Governor Ron DeSantis is making that move permanent.

Starting July 1, alcohol takeout and delivery orders will be on the menu permanently.

“I think it will help the restaurant industry at large,” Los Antojitos Assistant Manager Holly Harris said.

Harris said some customers are still hesitant to come inside. This law makes serving those who want to eat and now drink at home easier.

“Just to be able to do that for the guests is really a wonderful thing that we’re striving for,” Harris said.

At Patches Pub in Panama City Beach, Owner Vincent Greiner called the law a win-win.

“It’s a win for restaurants and bars for added revenue. It’s a win for customers because there’s still going to be a lot of people that don’t want to go to bars and restaurants. So it gives them an option to come and get some drinks and go to the beach and enjoy what they could enjoy at a bar or restaurant,” Greiner said.

He also expressed his gratitude for Governor DeSantis.

“The executive orders that he’s passed have helped a lot of people,” Greiner.

Businesses can only sell or deliver drinks if they adhere to the following requirements:

1. The vendor must be licensed as a public food service establishment.

2. The sale or delivery must be accompanied by the sale of food within the same order.

3. The charge for the sale of food and nonalcoholic beverages must be at least 40 percent of the total charge for the order, excluding the charge for any manufacturer-sealed containers of alcoholic beverages included in the order.

4. Sales and deliveries of the alcoholic beverages may not occur after the vendor ceases preparing food on the licensed premises for the day or after midnight, whichever is earlier.

You can read the entire bill here.

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