TAMPA, Fla. - A bill that makes permanent a popular COVID-19 emergency order allowing restaurants to sell alcoholic drinks with take-home meals went into effect July 1 and Bay Area restaurants are glad to keep the trend going.
The to-go option is available to restaurants that have special alcoholic-beverage licenses and derive at least 51% of revenue from food and non-alcoholic sales. For restaurants with regular "quota" licenses, food and non-alcoholic drinks would have to account for 60% of the sales.
To-go drinks must be placed in secured containers and placed in locked compartments, vehicle trunks or in areas behind the last upright seats in vehicles. Restaurants are prohibited from including alcoholic drinks in orders being delivered by people under age 21.
The law requires cutting off the sale of to-go drinks -- mixed or in bottles -- when restaurants’ scheduled food service ends for the day or at midnight, whichever occurs first.
Officials from the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association have repeatedly called the legislation a "lifeline" for restaurants.
While restaurants were closed to indoor dining early in the pandemic, DeSantis has touted efforts for months to lift restrictions on businesses and residents.
"Coming from the creative side marketing mind, we definitely want to start thinking of how we can package meals to go with some great of, you know, our in-house cocktails that we can package," said Jeff Gigante, of Forbici Modern Italian.
Julie Brown, secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, said the to-go option has helped restaurants that had to adapt to numerous challenges over the past year.
"They've been resourceful, and they've been persistent," Brown said. "So many of them have found new opportunities, options, methods of sharing their offerings and added conveniences with consumers."
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.