“The general assembly hereby finds, determines, and declares that this act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety.”
Most people who don’t work in the Legislature probably aren’t familiar with this statement, called “the safety clause,” which appears at the end of every bill in the Colorado Legislature.
Is taking a couple of six-packs home from a brew pub a matter of “peace, health, or safety?”
Maybe not. But pretty much everyone we’ve talked to thinks it’s a good idea, and so do we.
House Bill 21-1027 will, by statute, extend the governor’s order allowing licensed liquor establishments to send customers home with a brewski, a bottle of that wine they loved or a mixologist’s magical cocktail in a specially secured plastic cup. The governor’s order – created to help restaurants, especially, survive the restrictions of COVID-19 – kept some businesses afloat that otherwise would have closed their doors.
Ninety-three percent of restaurant operators said in a recent survey that they were deriving revenue from alcohol to-go orders, according to the Colorado Restaurant Association. In March, Colorado restaurant revenues remained down 40%, so that extra boost from alcohol sales has made a significant difference, said Sonia Riggs, CRA president and chief executive officer.
The new bill has passed the House and now moves to the Senate and would remain in effect until July 2026. It limits the amounts of alcoholic beverages that can be sold to go or for delivery to two six-packs of beer, two bottles of wine and a one-liter bottle of spirits per order.
You might expect grocers and liquor stores to be raising a fuss. But Sherry Wertz, owner of Liquor World, said she hasn’t lost business to date and doesn’t expect to if the bill passes.
“I’m a small ma-and-pa business, and anything that helps small ma-and-pa restaurants, I say, go for it,” Wertz said. “We have to stick together and support one another.”
Riggs added that because alcohol purchased in restaurants is more expensive than in liquor stores, customers are unlikely to start buying all of their alcoholic beverages from their establishments.
Safety is not an issue, either, she said. Restaurants will remain bound by the usual protocols, checking IDs, not selling to anyone intoxicated, etc.
And a customer isn’t any more likely to drink and drive with alcohol taken from a restaurant or distillery than from a liquor store.
Chip Hosfeld, an owner-operator of Steamworks, said the restaurant and brewery’s package sales have been “going crazy.” To facilitate to-go and delivery orders, Steamworks ordered a canning machine early in the pandemic; it’s proved so useful the restaurant is already upgrading to a higher-efficiency machine, he said.
To-go orders have been “part of the solution for us,” he said.
Tim Walsworth, executive director of the Business Improvement District, said he’s personally taken advantage of the to-go feature.
“I live out of town, and we came down for dinner the other night and wanted to have a cocktail but didn’t want to drive afterward,” he said. “So we went to El Moro, got our little jars, and we had them when we went home. It was awesome.”
It seems likely that Durango’s summer tourists will find the to-go/delivery option awesome as well.
“We’re getting into the time where we consider the new things we did during COVID,” Walsworth said. “Which ones do we keep, which ones need to go away?”
Let’s keep this one by supporting continued to-go and delivery of alcohol from licensed establishments. For “the preservation of the public peace, health, or safety,” of course. And if fun is a byproduct – well, so be it.