Booze-to-go becomes reality in Arizona as new law takes effect

It was an executive order issued during the depths of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and it was meant to help struggling bars and restaurants try to make some money.

Just as it became popular, however, the so-called booze-to-go went away due to a lawsuit from bar owners that eventually stopped to-go cocktails.

In the lawsuit, bar owners argue had to pay a lot of money for special licenses, while restaurants did not have to.

Now, thanks to a new law, it is back, and people in Arizona can soon start ordering alcoholic drinks to go once again.

Booze-to-go helped some restaurant owners

Sidelines Grill owner Kristina Gwinn has seen it all when it comes to owning and operating her restaurant in Chandler, until she saw people ordering booze to go from her place in 2020.

"We did do it during the pandemic," said Gwinn. "|It was kind of awkward watching someone walk out with a six-pack or a margarita, and you had to put tape on the lid."

Gwinn says it helped during a time when money was tough to come by.

"Had to do what you had to do to survive," said Gwinn.

After the lawsuit that ended booze-to-go, the State Legislature decided to legalize the novel practice, with some rules

"The pandemic has been horrible, but there were some bright spots in it, but this is one of the things my constituents embraced and really liked," said State Rep. Jeff Weninger, a Republican lawmaker from Chandler who sponsored the to-go alcohol bill.

Applications to be taken on Friday

Arizona's liquor licensing department will start taking applications from food spots on Oct 1., and applicants will have to pair up with a bar or liquor store for takeout drinks. People who order drinks to go from a restaurant will have to order food to get that drink to go. That, however, does not apply to bars.

Gwinn says she will be giving it a shot.

"Everything’s changed since COVID," said Gwinn. "I've been very blessed. We've been staying consistent, but you have to do anything you can to keep your numbers up and keep you alive. If that gets people in the front door, then I’m definitely going to do it."

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