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Arkansas restaurants allowed to sell beer and wine for off-site consumption

Wine (Photo: Pixabay)
Wine (Photo: Pixabay)
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The Arkansas Alcoholic Beverage Control on Thursday issued a rule allowing restaurants and microbrewery restaurants to sell beer and wine for off-site consumption with the purchase of food. However, the new rule does not include the sale of mixed-drinks.

The rule is in place for 30 days.

“Restaurants and Microbrewery Restaurants (hereafter referred to as “restaurants”) licensed to sell beer and wine under any permit issued by the Alcoholic Beverage Control may sell corked or sealed bottles of wine with the purchase of food, consistent with their existing ability to allow a patron to take home an unfinished bottle of wine purchased with food,” noted a portion of the new rule. “Restaurants may also include beer and wine with the delivery of food items. Restaurants shall not sell any spirituous liquor to go or for delivery. Restaurants may sell mixers and set-ups.”

Prior to Thursday’s ruling, an effort was underway in Arkansas for the state to temporarily allow restaurants to sell beer, wine and by the glass mixed-drinks in sealed containers for off-site consumption.

The attempt to change the regulations is in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Americans are being urged to stay home and avoid large gatherings to limit the spread of the virus. The warnings have been particularly severe on restaurant owners, who are taking a considerable financial hit with a shortage of patrons.

Several states have ordered restaurants and bars closed to help slow the spread of the virus. Alabama, Louisiana and Texas have recently provided temporary waivers allowing restaurants and bars to serve alcohol for off-site consumption.

“The State of Texas is committed to supporting retailers, restaurants, and their employees,” Gov. Greg Abbott said. “These waivers will allow restaurants to provide enhanced delivery options to consumers during this temporary period of social distancing.”

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has not yet taken that step, saying restaurants can remain open “on their own choosing.”

Restaurant owners who are still open are maneuvering their operations in order to try and minimize the financial loss. That primarily means keeping their kitchens open, but closing the dining rooms and offering food through delivery, curbside pickup or drive thru-service.

Owners of Yellow Rocket Concepts, a restaurant holding company based in Little Rock with restaurants in central and Northwest Arkansas, are some of those in the business seeking the change in Arkansas. According to Yellow Rocket, mixed drinks account for as much as 30% of sales in its restaurants.

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