As legislators recovered this week, restaurants again expressed concerns about their collective ability to possibly sell alcohol to go. While lawmakers and Minnesota’s governor appear to support beer and wine sales alongside to go food orders, there were concerns expressed in regards to open containers of cocktails. Today, restaurant owners again spoke up to address those concerns, pointing out there are a variety of ways these beverages would be able to be served safely, to of age adults, with seals as secure as liquor bottles purchased at liquor stores.
Brent Frederick of Jester Hospitality group oversees a group of businesses renowned for its cocktails including both Parlours, Borough, P.S. Steak, Constantine, and Monello. Frederick pointed out that there is little difference between opening a can of beer and twisting open a sealed, secure bottled cocktail. Plus, like the food prepared in these restaurant kitchens, the cocktails are every bit as much a part of the dining experience, made with the same rigorous safety standards. Parlour is as famous for its burger as it is its signature Old Fashioned. “Our craft cocktail programs are a strong part of our identity, and one that we haven’t been able to showcase that in the current business climate. We don’t typically create a lot with wine or beer but our staff get to really shine when they can create and mix spirits.”
Allowing restaurants to sell pre-batched, sealed cocktails would not only allow guests to experience the extension of the restaurant inside their homes, but it also would allow more staff to return, albeit in a diminished and safe capacity, to at least part-time employment.
Said chef Max Thompson, owner of the currently shuttered Stewart’s in St. Paul and Nighthawk’s in Minneapolis, “Making really good tasting cocktails is a special set of skills. It’s the special thing that we can offer that would make someone spend money at our places instead of just going to buy some gin, tonic and a couple limes. I could buy Stouffer’s lasagna at the grocery store or I could go to Mucci’s and get something really tasty and support my community.”
Immediately following the state wide closing of restaurants, Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable, Bellecour, and Demi called on lawmakers to allow liquor sales, much like the state of New York has done for its restaurants.
Frederick underscored the financial importance of these sales, “Overall, our alcohol sales typically make up 50% of our total sales. Allowing us to sell these products would greatly help our revenue and would allow us to employ more people organically, not just subsidized. In turn, this would create more sales tax revenue for the state. This would also fulfill a desire by the general public to get something they were used to having before the pandemic, but haven’t been able to since the mandated closure of their favorite bar and watering hole.”