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Kentucky Senate votes to make to-go alcohol sales permanent

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 4:25 AM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky is one step closer to making alcohol to-go sales permanent.

Governor Andy Beshear made the allowance through an executive order last year. Now, many Kentucky restaurants offer carry out or delivery adult beverages in sealed containers.

“We’ve been doing it as long as it’s been allowed. Hopefully it’ll be allowed for a while,” Hernan Leon said, the owner of El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant.

El Mariachi customers can get a 16 ounce, half gallon or full gallon margarita with a purchase of food.

“You could do chips and salsa, guacamole dips, all of the entrees,” Leon said.

Senate Bill 67 would make alcohol ordered to go the new normal. It comes with some rules lawmakers argue would prevent any spills: Alcohol can’t be sold to go in large quantities. It’s not allowed in the “dry” parts of the state. The beverages must be transported in parts of a car such as a locked compartment or the trunk.

“We wanted to do a sealed cap, so we had to find gallons from our providers,” Leon said.

He said he’s talked to other local restaurant owners who think this can be a safer way to consume alcohol.

“As far as I know, DUIs have not gone up, or any trouble in that sense where people are publicly intoxicated. People are just picking these up and going home, having their meal, having a margarita in their house,” Leon said.

The restaurant owner said he was seeing big losses last year.

“We took about a 35% loss from our first location. We had just opened up this location in the middle of it,” Leon said.

When he heard about the option, it felt like happy hour.

“A police officer actually came in that’s a patron of ours. He’s the one that had told me. He’s like ‘hey, they just announced you can get margaritas to go.’ I was like, ‘really?’ It was a police officer telling me so I was like ‘ok,’” he said.

He’s hoping the bill becomes law.

“It is very popular. People definitely much appreciate it and they very, very much like it. It’s been a huge help on our end to be able to do that,” Leon said.

According to the bill, anyone younger than 21 would not be able to pick up or get their drinks delivered. Likewise, delivery drivers would have to be at least 21 years old.

The bill passed in the Kentucky Senate, so now it’s on to the House.

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