A bill was introduced and passed the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate this week that would temporarily allow restaurants to sell beer and wine in their original containers for the duration of the stay-at-home order. Restaurants with liquor licenses will be allowed to sell up to one bottle of wine or the equivalent of a six pack of beer, cider or hard seltzer with food orders to guests who can provide proof of legal age. On its surface, this could help restaurants add a bit more much needed cash flow to the businesses that have chosen to remain open, with take away business. However, the bill includes a provision that the items must be sold in their original containers. Guests can purchase entire bottles of wine or cans of beer. Most restaurants don’t sell beer by the can, but by the glass, from a draught system stocked by kegs. This means, many would need to invest in new product, mark it up without marking it up too much so as to deter guests by price.
Owners of restaurants especially known for cocktail programs have implored for creative solutions to include mixed cocktails, in properly sealed containers, to be considered for possible sales. Republican state Rep. Jon Koznick, one of the sponsors of the original legislation, said that industry groups had expressed concerns about the safety of selling open containers, indicating a misunderstanding of restaurants capabilities to bottle and seal these beverages.
Although, some restaurants are looking forward to the opportunity to sell a larger selection of the inventory that’s been sitting dormant for the past month. Pig Ate My Pizza in Robbinsdale, owned by the same team as Travail, has already been selling crowlers from its onsite brewery. Owner Mike Brown told City Pages that he looks forward to the opportunity to include wine that will pair beautifully with what guests’s food orders.
With the passage, Minnesota will joins sixteen other states that have allowed alcohol sales during the pandemic.