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Gov. Newsom signs bill that will extend ability for restaurants to sell to-go cocktails with food

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed legislation that will extend the right to allow restaurants to sell to-go cocktails along with takeout food orders.

The law, SB 389, was sponsored by state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, and was designed to continue to help restaurants recover from the negative economic effects of the coronavirus that severely weakened the entire industry.

Just last week, the Fourth Street Social Club in downtown Santa Rosa announced that it will close operations on Sunday as a result of losses from COVID-19.

“The ability to sell carryout cocktails is an important step toward helping our restaurants, which have been hit hard by the pandemic,” Dodd said in a statement. “It will ensure their recovery, protecting jobs and our economy.”

The bill also applies to bars, breweries and wineries that sell food. The measure will be in effect for five years.

More than 35 states allowed restaurants to sell to-go cocktails temporarily during the pandemic. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have since passed legislation to make that permanent.

“Cocktails to-go have proven to be a vital part of businesses’ survival during COVID-19 and will only provide increased stability as they work to get back on their feet,” said Adam Smith, vice president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

While the to-go cocktails have been noteworthy, the biggest trend during the pandemic has been the tremendous growth of canned cocktails with many local distillers such as Giffo, Zaddy’s and Barrel Brothers entering the market.

Also on Friday, Newsom signed another measure, AB 61, that would provide regulatory flexibility to restaurants to expand outdoor dining in parklets and another measure, SB 314, that grants businesses with temporarily expanded premises a one-year grace period to apply for a permanent expansion.

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 521-5223 or bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @BillSwindell.

Bill Swindell

Business, Beer and Wine, The Press Democrat  

In the North Coast, we are surrounded by hundreds of wineries along with some of the best breweries, cidermakers and distillers. These industries produce an abundance of drinks as well as good stories – and those are what I’m interested in writing. I also keep my eye on our growing cannabis industry and other agricultural crops, which have provided the backbone for our food-and-wine culture for generations.

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