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Pennsylvania Lawmakers Push To Make To-Go Cocktails Permanent

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- When the pause of on-premise alcohol consumption shook up the restaurant industry, Spencer Warren began shaking up his cocktails, to-go.

"It's giving us another source of revenue that we didn't have before, which is helping us try to survive," said the owner of The Warren Bar & Burrow.

His to-go alcoholic beverage cooler has since become a lifeline, accounting for more than 50 percent of his business. Additional workers are needed to help prepare, package and preside over the money-making mixed drink operation.

to-go cocktails
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

"It's a lot of our own house recipes. But basically, somebody's here eight hours a day, five days a week, whether it's prepping, whether it's juicing fresh juices or clarification," the business owner told KDKA.

The sales have been temporarily permitted through HB327 during the disaster declaration. But this week, the Pennsylvania House Liquor Control Committee passed a new measure, HB1154, which would make them permanent.

State Rep. Natalie Mihalek, who sits on the committee, told KDKA, "This is a way for restaurants to keep up revenue and keep their customers safe because there's still a percentage of people who are still not comfortable dining out."

The new legislation comes as some bars and restaurants are still experiencing low in-person volume even as mitigation efforts are scaled back. The new bill gives some business owners hope that they'll be able to continue paying their bills.

"It gives us a revenue stream that if another pandemic hit, we wouldn't be able to survive again without it," said Warren, who also told KDKA that it could be another year before his business takes off full throttle again.

According to lawmakers, the new bill would likely include clearer guidance on preventing consumption in the streets and other places that could cause potential safety issues.

It's unclear whether or not the measure will go to consideration for a full House vote during the next legislative session on May 24.

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