Officials around the country are considering whether to make permanent the looser drinking laws passed to help bars and restaurants stay open in the pandemic. That means more cities could be allowing carryout margaritas or self-serve beer and wine taps. And along with local food courts could come booze courts.
When the pandemic shut bars and restaurants nationwide, state and local governments stepped forward to bend long-standing licensing and other commercial property use rules. That cleared the way for carryout cocktails and the sight of diners sitting at tables in the middle of a mall parking lot or a once-busy street that had been closed to traffic.
Now California is poised to make these alcohol-related policies permanent and other states and cities are mulling their own versions of long-term, relaxed restrictions designed especially to help smaller independent restaurants still struggling to rebound from pandemic closings and indoor capacity restrictions. The effects on commercial development could be considerable.
There’s a big caveat to all the talk of looser alcohol restrictions: opposition from nearby residents who don’t want their neighborhoods turned into a big tailgate party or mini-Mardi Gras. This type of concern could generate more vetoes on commercial projects, industry professionals say.