On Tuesday, April 7th, 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that he signed an emergency order allowing some liquor permit holders in Ohio to sell alcohol “to-go”. On Tuesday, in a statement on Twitter, Governor DeWine said:
Today, the Ohio Liquor Control Commission passed an emergency rule to allow establishments with an existing on-premises liquor permit to sell and deliver alcohol, including high-proof liquor in limited quantity, for off-premises consumption— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) April 7, 2020
On March 15th, 2020, the Governor issued an order shutting down a variety of “non-essential” businesses – shuttering bars and restaurants throughout the State. In an effort to alleviate some of the financial harm the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, the relaxing of the on premises consumption rule is aimed at helping.
Under the rule, liquor license permit holders must abide by the following rules:
- Patrons can purchase no more than two high-proof (over 42 proof) spiritous drinks per meal.
- Food must be purchased in conjunction with the purchase of high-proof liquor.
- Under normal Ohio law, low-proof products such as beer and wine are able to be carried out without a food order
- Drinks prepared with high-proof spirits (over 42 proof) must be served in a closed container – as defined by O.R.C. 4301.01(B)(6).
- Drinks cannot contain more that two ounces of spiritous liquor per container
- All Ohio liquor laws and rules apply to “to-go” sales, including hours of operation, minimum age requirements and the prohibitions on sales to intoxicated persons.
- All sales are applicable to State Tax Laws
- All drinks purchased are subject to open container laws and must be sealed during transport.
- The establishment must have a valid Food Service License issued by the local Department of Health
Absent further action, this rule will remain in effect for 120 days from April 7th, 2020.
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Bars and Restaurants by the Numbers
It’s widely known that bars and restaurants typically make very little profit on the food they sell, instead making high margins on their beer and liquor sales. This business model, however, was turned on its’ head in March when Ohio shut down all in dining restaurants. Even those restaurants that successfully transitioned to take-out only were forced to forego valuable beer, wine and liquor sales. This order relaxing the on premises rules for alcohol consumption is an attempt to try to return some of this income back to bar and restaurant owners throughout Ohio and stave off what may be a wave of bankruptcy filings.
According to IBISworld.com, the bar, nightclub and tavern industry in the United States has steadily grown from 2013 to present, with the market reaching a value of approximately $28 billion dollars. On average, liquor sales represent a staggering 83% of revenue. It is broken down as follows:
Bar and restaurants also have a sizable start up costs to contend with in this difficult time. Average bar and restaurant startup costs in the United States range from $175,000 to $850,000. On average, the monthly operating costs are as follows:
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