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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jon Koznick (R)

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RELEASE: Legislators, Local Restaurants Urge Takeout Wine and Beer Sales

Monday, April 13, 2020

ST. PAUL, MN—State Representative Jon Koznick, R-Lakeville, Senator John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, and a coalition of local restaurant owners are urging action be taken to provide a temporary change in state law that would allow current on-sale alcohol retailers to sell pre-packaged alcoholic beverages both in carry-out and delivery. Rep. Koznick was joined by Jason Saji, general manager at B52 Burgers & Brew in Lakeville & Inver Grove Heights at a Monday morning press conference announcing the proposal.

Lawmakers are also planning to send a letter to Governor Walz later today asking him to consider approving the temporary change via executive order.

“Giving restaurants this option is a commonsense way we can help local job creators pay their bills and keep Minnesotans employed,” said Rep. Koznick. “For many restaurants, wine and beer sales account for as much as 50% of profits. This temporary change gives local establishments the flexibility they need to convert existing wine and beer inventory into revenue while providing a more immediate solution to cash-flow problems than waiting for loan approval.”

“Our Mom and Pop shops are trying to create ways to stay afloat during this tsunami,” said Sen. Hoffman. “Allowing wine and beer takeout would be a critical lifeline that would instantly boost sales and help our restaurant industry during these challenging times. I hope the legislature will take swift, bipartisan action to get this done.”

Rep. Koznick, in consultation with the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, recommends the following public safety guidelines be considered with his proposal:

  • Bars and restaurants would be required to sell food with all Wine & Beer take-out orders
  • All alcohol sold off-sale would be in pre-packaged, closed containers
  • Beer sales should be limited to pre-packaged products with a maximum of 144 oz per order (12- twelve ounce cans)
  • Wine sales should be limited to 1500 ml of wine (2 regular bottles)
  • Hard liquor would not be allowed for off-sale by bars and restaurants
  • Current rules pertaining to customer age identification and safety would stay in effect
  • Cities and towns have ability to opt out

The change in law would be in effect until emergency orders temporarily closing bars, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation have been lifted

“The last few weeks have been extremely difficult for our business as we’ve had to lay off about 80% of our staff,” said Jason Saji, general manager of B52 Burgers & Brew. “We are grateful for the support of the Lakeville community as takeout orders have helped keep us afloat for now. Being able to offer wine and beer as a takeout option would likely provide us with the extra revenue we need to begin the process of rehiring some of our employees.”

To date, seventeen states and municipalities around the country have temporarily eased regulations to allow restaurants to sell pre-packaged wine and beer off-sale with food orders including Illinois, Iowa, Fargo and Grand Forks, ND, Wisconsin, New York, Maryland, Colorado, New Hampshire, Texas, California, Nebraska, Vermont, Kentucky, Ohio, Atlanta, and Washington D.C.