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Senate budget provision would allow restaurants, bars to buy from liquor stores

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For Brian Butler, owner of the Golden Rail Ale House, a small pour of alcohol can mean big bucks.

“One case, a week of liters, that’s $36 plus a $20 delivery fee, which is going up to $25 to my understanding,” he said. “That’s $56 a week. So multiply that times 52 weeks if we were to buy every week. That’s a lot of money.”

Those nearly $3,000 in fees are just the price of doing business because right now, Butler can only buy from two distributors in the state.

But that could soon change as state Sen. James Skoufis touts a provision in the Senate’s budget proposal that would allow bars and restaurants to purchase 12 bottles of alcohol a week from local liquor stores.

Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association Executive Director Scott Wexler said this is sorely needed.

“Eight-to-$10,000 a year is what we think the typical tavern will save in these fees,” he said. “Some smaller taverns who are only buying one case a week will save maybe close to the four to $5,000 a year. But but those are just fees that they’re paying extra, having nothing to do with the cost of the product.”


What You Need To Know

  • The state Senate’s budget proposal would allow restaurants and bars to buy up to 12 bottles a week from liquor stores 
  • Under state law, restaurants can only purchase liquor from the two distributors in New York 
  • The executive director of the Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association says fees from these distributors can cost restaurants thousands of dollars a year

Wexler said the change, one of several recommendations from an Alcoholic Beverage Control Law Commission, would help local liquor stores, too.

“There’s a liquor store in every community,” he said. “Why wouldn’t every local restaurant or tavern make their small purchases from their local liquor store?”

Butler would be more than happy to spend less on fees. He’s got other ideas how to use that money.

“You could go for new bar stools and maintenance on the building. And can hire more people,” he said. “You know, we’re constantly looking for new people to add to our staff payroll. Payroll’s the crusher. So it would it would definitely help in that respect.”

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