Florida Bills Would Make Lucrative To-Go Alcohol Permanent

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ORLANDO, Fla. — During the pandemic, to-go alcohol was allowed to be sold at restaurants through an executive order by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

It’s something restaurant owners have said helped sales. Now it could become a permanent thing.

What You Need To Know

  • Florida House and Senate bills would allow restaurants to continue selling alcoholic beverages to go
  • Regulations would require the beverages to be sealed, and food must be purchased as well
  • The bills have bipartisan support
  • FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE SESSION: Latest News, Find Your State Lawmakers, and More

There are Florida Senate and House bills to make the alcohol to-go option permanent. There are regulations for the sizes and how containers are sealed. 

The Senate bill also still prohibits businesses from selling sealed containers of distilled spirits. 

All alcohol purchases would have to be accompanied by same-order food sales.

“We hope they pass this Legislation to make it forever that’s what we are hoping for,” said Michael Schwartz, owners of Pannullo’s Italian Restaurant in Winter Park.

Schwartz said they have faced some challenges during the pandemic, especially early on. However, he says take-out has helped his business stay afloat. That includes being allowed to sell alcohol to go.

“In March and April we had been closed to sitdown dining completely, so any revenue was tremendous to us. So during those 10 weeks anyone who ordered a bottle of wine, we did buy one get one free, we have a lot of response to that,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz says business has picked back up with dine-in, but take-out is still a really big part of their sales. It’s triple during pandemic, with alcohol being part of that.

“Most of the people to go are doing wine,” Schwartz said.

They hoping to do that in the future too.

Last week, the Senate’s Regulated Industries Committee was the first group to pass SB 148. Central Florida state senators Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast, and  Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, who sit on that committee, support the bill.

The Senate’s version of the beverage law is now being looked at by the Commerce and Tourism Committee.

The House version, HB 329, was introduced by State Rep. Josie Tomkow, R-Polk City. It’s now being looked at by the Commerce Committee.

The 60-day Florida Legislative Session opens March 2.

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