Cocktails-to-go has a target on its back
Cocktails-to-go is a saving grace for many bars and restaurants and has allowed them to operate without closing their doors. Also, workers previously furloughed because of the COVID-19 crisis, were brought back to work because of the extra income cocktails-to-go generated for bars and restaurants.
Although making cocktails-to-go permanent enjoys overwhelming support, according to the National Restaurant Association in numerous state polls between 75-80% of respondents support cocktails-to-go, making cocktails-to-go permanent will be a political struggle of epic proportions.
With the restaurant industry in dire straits, the public overwhelmingly supporting the concept, and the unknown of when COVID-19 will disappear, one would think making cocktails-to-go permanent would be a no-brainer. However, cocktails-to-go faces a tough challenge, as opposition to cocktails-to-go will be well-funded and fierce!
Who will try to kill cocktails-to-go?
The Center for Alcohol Policy, which is funded by beer wholesalers, is funding a study which will try to persuade policy makers not to make cocktails-to-go permanent. The study will try to show cocktails-to-go in the worst light and exacerbate any existing problems.
Let’s be honest, the beer wholesalers are not funding a study just to point out flaws, they are funding a study to kill the concept of cocktails-to-go. They will point to examples of screw ups from third-party providers delivering alcohol as a means for attacking cocktails-to-go.
With their strong political war chest and influence in state capitols, they are a political force to be reckoned with!
One can expect the wholesaler industry to try to do everything to stop cocktails-to-go.
What can the hospitality industry do?
If the hospitality industry wants cocktails-to-go to become a reality, they need to be prepared and take this fight seriously. As consumer behavior will change because of the lasting effects of COVID, the hospitality industry is going to need cocktails-to-go to sustain itself.
Here are some actions the hospitality industry must take to help itself.
First, the hospitality industry needs to employ hard numbers to measure the importance of cocktails-to-go. Whether its revenue derived from cocktails-to-go or the number of workers hired or brought back due to the law changes, the hospitality industry needs data.
Restaurants and bars must demonstrate with evidence, the overwhelming impact cocktails-to-go has on the industry.
Without hard evidence, it becomes harder to make the argument that accentuates the positives.
Second, the hospitality industry needs the human story behind cocktails-to-go. They need to present the family businesses that stayed open or the worker that got hired back because of the revenue derived from cocktails-to-go.
Third, the hospitality industry needs to engage their legislators at the local level. Let them know that if this positive policy no longer exists, restaurants which are crucial to the local community will close. Now is not the time to stay silent.
Fourth, the hospitality industry needs to ensure safeguards are followed to combat any potential negative effects of cocktails-to-go. There is no doubt the wholesaler community is going to trot out the Uber Eats bogeyman as the example for discontinuing cocktails-to-go.
The hospitality industry needs to ensure its members are educated on the legal requirements for cocktails-to-go programs and that its members follow up with questions on complexities.
Educating hospitality members about compliance issues surrounding cocktails-to-go is paramount for this program to survive.
Conclusion: Expect a Battle Royale
The wholesalers will come after cocktails-to-go hard this year and try to put the cat back in the bag. They will fund a study and utilize every trick in the book to stop cocktails-to-go.
My message to the hospitality industry, be ready now! You face a very formidable adversary that has more political capital than you possess.
Only a determined and well thought out effort will allow you to keep the benefits of cocktails-to-go.
In the end, it is in your hands, if you want to win, don’t be complacent!