Wisconsin restaurants excited to sell cocktails-to-go

Local News

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Wisconsinites can add some of their favorite alcoholic drinks to their take-out orders. Last week Governor Tony Evers signed legislation allowing restaurants to serve “cocktails-to-go.” First News at Nine’s Max Cotton explains the impact on the restaurant industry.

Joanne Palzkill co-owns Draganetti’s restaurant in Altoona. Like many restaurant owners, she said the past year’s been a struggle battling the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why she’s excited she’ll be able to sell some Draganetti’s bar creations to people who aren’t ready to return to their table.

“We think it’ll definitely help and certainly it rounds out what we’re able to offer to our customers so we’re excited about it,” she said “It’ll be interesting to see how many requests we get for it.”

The drinks must be sold in a tamper-evident seal.

Wisconsin Restaurant Association President and CEO Kristine Hillmer compared the seal to a factory-sealed beer on wine bottle, which restaurants were already allowed to sell with takeout.

“Whether you’re doing curbside or whether or not you’re taking leftovers and you still want a nightcap and take that home with you, it allows restaurateurs to mix that and sell that to consumers,” she said.

Hillmer also said like a factory-sealed beer can, people can’t open the drink without breaking the seal. This means police officers would know if it’s opened in the car when they stop someone.

But most importantly for restaurants, as they wait for more people to get vaccinated, Shawn Phetteplace with the Wisconsin Main Street Alliance said this may be their shot in the arm.

“They need a little bit of help and so cocktails to go will provide another much-needed stream of revenue for their business,” he said.

Phetteplace said many restaurants have had thousands of dollars of liquor sitting on their shelves throughout the pandemic.

Hillmer said this will help get some of that liquor off the shelves, which is key to many restaurants’ financial health.

“Broadly speaking, when you look at the business of a restaurant, the profit margin is in the alcohol sales,” she said. “It’s in the bar sales. Many times that can make up 30 percent roughly of a bottom line of a restaurant. The food side is a very very slim profit margin.”

A new way for restaurants to meet consumer demands while helping them get through and beyond the pandemic.

In Eau Claire, Max Cotton, First News At Nine.

The new law only allows people to pick-up cocktails-to-go. Meaning you can’t have them delivered. Palzkill says she and many other restaurant owners she’s spoken with aren’t serving cocktails-to-go yet because they’re waiting on tamper-evident containers to arrive.

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