Legislation that would allow sale of alcohol with takeout orders awaiting Baker’s signature

NEEDHAM, Mass. — Lawmakers in Beacon Hill have passed a bill that would allow restaurants to sell beer and wine in take-out orders as the state faces yet another month of quarantining due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sale of alcohol is a huge driving force of revenue at restaurants, who say they have been struggling to get by after Governor Baker shut down dine-in options, only allowing them to do take-out and delivery orders.

While the bill only allows for beer and wine to be sold with take-out orders, restaurant owners say this piece of legislation could really make a positive difference for their business.

Chefs and restaurants say they’re currently struggling to stay open as it is right now, many who have had to furlough most of their employees and rely only on a small staff to prepare orders for takeout. The revenue from selling alcohol, however, could be a really big help for them.

“It’s going to be able to generate some cash flow for us and we get money out the door,” said Rob Picard, the Chef and Owner at Cappella in Needham.

Picard’s restaurant continues to offer take-out and delivery options for customers, taking in a steady stream of nightly orders every day, but being allowed to sell alcohol to-go would be a game changer.

Under the bill, restaurants would only be able to sell a six-pack of beer or two bottles of wine with food orders only.

“It’s going to be huge for us if it goes through and it passes, a six-pack of beer - these families can have a sense of dining in their homes," said Picardi.

Picardi says the extra money would help struggling businesses stay open and bring back staff, with the added bonus that customers could get the feeling that they’re dining out, except from the comfort of their own homes.

“[We can] make people happy, [there are] some wines or beers that people can’t buy in the stores because we have restaurant exclusive brands that a lot of the liquor stores can’t get,” said Picardi.

For Sarah Wade, the Chef and Owner of Stillwater in Boston, the hope is that the option to pick up alcohol with dinner will motivate people to dine out more, adding a one-stop shop for customers.

“I’m excited about doing wine and food pairings and other interesting things that we can market to the guests out there in the world that are hungry,” said Wade.

Cappella will also be offering special deals as well such as a free bolognese dish with the purchase of a bottle of red wine.

“That’s why it’s important for these restaurants and these people who are really into it, to be able to buy these brands and still dine at home and feel like they’re out and doing whatever they want to do,” said Picardi.

The bill has been sent to Baker’s desk and is waiting for his signature.