FAQs on New Rules for Restaurants, Taverns, and Bars

The Association is actively seeking answers to the many questions about the new policy and will post updates here as we get them. One thing we’ve learned over the past four months is that everything is constantly changing and so the guidance will change. New questions will be raised on a regular basis and old questions will be revisited as new information is gained or as circumstances warrant. Our focus is on keeping you informed so you know the rules of the road to run your business and advocating to the State Liquor Authority and the Governor’s Office so those rules are as reasonable and workable as possible. And we’ll take additional actions as required and worthwhile to protect your business.

Here’s what we know:

Food Requirement – the State Liquor Authority’s guidance provides that customers of all on-premises licensees, regardless of type, and manufacturing licensees with on-premises privileges must purchase food suitable to meet the SLA’s minimum food requirement for licensing. For restaurants, taverns, and bars that means sandwiches, soups, and similar foods. Chips, nuts, bar snacks and similar foods do not meet this requirement. A quantity of food equivalent to a small appetizer per person is the expectation of the Liquor Authority.

Initial Purchase of Alcohol – the guidance from the State Liquor Authority requires food to be purchased with the initial purchase of alcohol. There is no requirement to purchase food with additional purchases of alcohol.

Food Pricing – there are no restrictions that would prevent pricing the food patrons are required to buy at any price you choose, except it cannot be free. The SLA will only be concerned if you reduce the price of alcoholic beverages in violation of longstanding price reduction rules that limit drink discounts to 50% off (or 2 for 1) drinks.

Nontraditional Food Sources – according to the Liquor Authority these rules will permit patrons to purchase food off-site (i.e., nearby food truck, quick serve restaurant, etc.) and bring it onto your premises to consume along with their initial purchase of an alcoholic beverage. The food purchased off site must meet the food minimum stated above. A food truck or similar mobile food service cannot be located on your premises without permission of the Authority.

Counter Service – only customers seated at the counter may be served from it. Customers may not order or pick up food or drinks at a counter. All service is required to be at the table. Customers may only leave their tables for ingress, egress, and going to & from the bathroom.

Delivery of Food & Alcohol – in order to meet the requirement to purchase food with the initial purchase of alcohol the customer must place their food order at the same time they place their drink order, but you may deliver the drink before the food is delivered.

Check back regularly for updates.