A recently passed Senate Bill would allow restaurants and bars to sell “to go” alcohol orders to be consumed within a certain “social district” established by that municipality.
It’s lawful in Michigan for restaurants and bars to sell unopened bottles of wine or a growler of beer with takeout or delivery food orders. Senate Bill 942, which would amend Public Act 58, the Michigan liquor control code of 1998, would also allow cocktails to be sold this way, as long as that restaurant operates in a municipality that would establish a “social district.”
Drinks would need to be consumed within this “social district.”
The bill has bipartisan support and is seen as a move to help struggling restaurants and bars that only recently were allowed to open at half capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was introduced by Sen. Aric Nesbitt (R) on May 28. The Michigan Senate passed it on June 10 in a 37-1 vote. All local Senators, Sen. Ruth Johnson (R-Dist. 14), Sen. Jim Runestad (R-Dist. 15), Sen. Lana Theis (R-Dist. 22), Sen. Jim Ananich (D-Dist. 27) and Sen. Ken Horn (R-Dist. 32) all voted yes.
It also authorizes a 30-percent discount on liquor licensee purchases from the state through 2021, and allows refunds to bars and restaurants for beer and wine that went stale during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Mike Hart, Fenton City assistant manager, said they’ve heard of this topic through the Michigan Municipal League and other administrative channels. They’re working to understand the bill.
“We are committed to helping our restaurants be successful during this difficult time. We are reviewing the legislation and looking at the available options. We may consider making a recommendation to city council depending upon how the bill might be amended from the original version,” he said.
Jason Warda, owner of The Barn, Ponemah Lakeside Lodge, and the Fenton Pub, which is in downtown Fenton, said, “ I’m not really sure how that bill will affect us if it was written like it is down in New Orleans where you could literally take a cocktail-to-go and drink it walking around town. I would see that being beneficial at the Fenton Pub or the Lodge, but having to have it sealed just to take home, I’m not sure how that will play out.”