Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Friday joined a growing number of states allowing restaurants to serve alcohol alongside food to-go or else deliver it with food orders during the eight-week coronavirus shutdown.
“I’m proud that we’re taking additional steps today to allow restaurants that are maintaining delivery and takeout to also make alcohol sales alongside food sales,” Polis said. “This will help them continue to stay afloat during these trying times.”
Polis on Monday ordered all Colorado restaurants and bars to close dine-in operations for 30 days. On Thursday, he extended the closure timeline to eight weeks, as Mayor Michael Hancock had already called for in Denver.
“If they’re licensed to sell beer, alcohol in their restaurant, they will now be able to do so for takeout or delivery,” Polis clarified of the temporarily lifted licensing restrictions. No further guidelines or requirements were given.
Denver bars responded quickly to the news on Friday. Many of them have been closed altogether since Tuesday’s shutdown, unable to sell their main offering via takeout or delivery.
At the downtown Dairy Block’s underground cocktail bar, Run for the Roses, owner Steven Waters had posted a delivery menu on his business’ site by midday, just ahead of the weekend.
Starting Saturday, all proceeds from the sales of large-batch (750 ml) cocktails would go toward paying his staff during the shutdown, Waters said. Customers could order their choice of manhattans, palomas, daiquiris and more house drinks alongside deviled eggs or breakfast sandwiches.
On 6th Avenue, the upscale Italian restaurant Barolo Grill rushed to make its extensive wine list available by the bottle, along with beer and cocktails. More restaurant and bar owners started to promote everything from takeout wine by the bottle to beer, sake and mixed drinks on their social media accounts.
While the Colorado Liquor Enforcement Division has yet to release its rules for complying businesses, other states such as Texas, New York and California have given the OK for establishments with full liquor licenses to sell beer, wine and mixed drinks along with food in their to-go orders.
Boulder-based attorney Michael Laszlo, who specializes in liquor, business and commercial law, says that doesn’t mean Colorado’s Liquor Enforcement Division will act accordingly, but he is hopeful.
“I’m talking to restaurant (clients) every couple of hours that are saying, I’m not going to make it,” he told The Denver Post. “Do I think dire circumstances call for dire solutions? Yes, I do. If I’m a restaurant owner, I’m just doing anything I can to stay afloat. But, again, you can’t go out and do something that would harm the public just to make a buck.”
His best advice for restaurant and bar owners as they navigate these uncharted waters?
“Act responsibly and do everything you can to ensure everybody’s safety,” he said. “Unprecedented times call for unprecedented solutions.”
This is a developing story and will be updated as we receive more information.
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