Florida Restaurants May Have An Easier Time Selling Alcohol To Go
The state of Florida is providing some relief to food service establishments that sell alcohol. But like so many aspects of the alcohol and food service industry, businesses should be careful as the new laws contain a number of exceptions and technical requirements that must be followed.
Temporary Changes are Now Permanent
During the height of the pandemic and the COVID-19 shutdown, the state began to allow businesses to sell alcohol with take out meals. The practice of sending a consumer out the door with a take home meal and a container of alcohol was previously not allowed under Florida open container laws.
That change has now become a permanent change, allowing food service businesses to hopefully make more money, as customers can now take their alcohol with them.
Details and Requirements
But there are a number of details and requirements in the new law.
An establishment that wants to sell alcohol with to-go meals or delivered orders, must be qualified as, and obtain, a “special restaurant license.” This license can be given to restaurants and food service businesses that make 51% of their revenue from the sale of food and non-alcoholic beverages. The numbers are calculated based on every 12 months period.
Alcohol can only be taken out (1) when food is being sold; when the food service is cut off (the kitchen closes) so too does the establishment have to stop allowing alcohol to be taken out the door, or (2) at midnight, whichever time happens first.
The liquor also must be sealed when it is taken out. The alcohol can be sealed by the original manufacturer, or by the restaurant itself. The seal must be a real seal—it must prevent the beverage from being consumed and the seal must be the kind where it can be seen if it is broken, tampered with, or opened.
Transporting or Delivering Alcohol
There are also additional requirements for where and how alcohol must be transported, for establishments that are delivering meals and alcohol to consumers. Any vehicle transporting alcohol to customers, must be owned by the restaurant, or by a third party company with a contract with the restaurant. Having employees use their own cars to deliver alcohol is not allowed.
There are still a number of questions up in the air.
The law doesn’t define exactly what a seal is, nor does it give examples of what kind of seals will suffice. Additionally, there doesn’t seem to be any cap on the amount of alcohol that can be transported at one time for delivery to a customer.
However, where containers of alcohol are being sold, the food and nonalcoholic beverages must make up at least 40% of the total tab for the sale or delivery of alcohol off premises to be legal.
Call the West Palm Beach business litigation lawyers at Pike & Lustig. We can help your business follow government and state regulations.