Bill to modernize liquor sales, restaurant distribution and out-of-home dining in North Carolina heads to Cooper’s office

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RALEIGH NC (WNCN) – If Governor Roy Cooper approves Bill 890, many changes are coming to ABC stores, distilleries and restaurants in North Carolina in the way they sell alcohol.

It comes after the North Carolina House and Senate passed sweeping legislation to modernize state regulations on the sale and consumption of alcohol.

“We need to modernize the system while protecting the integrity of alcohol control in the state,” said Representative Tim Moffitt (R-Henderson), who introduced the bill in the House.

First, ABC stores will soon be able to accept orders and payments online.

“They’ll put that drink aside, they’ll keep it for a few days until you get it,” Moffitt said. “Only the person who orders the product can pick it up. “

Jason Smith, owner of Cantina 18, said the way restaurants buy and sell alcohol has remained largely the same for decades.

“Very few changes have happened since they were passed in the ’70s. You can’t find a company that hasn’t made changes in the past 50 years,” Smith said.

Restaurants can now continue to serve alcohol in outdoor spaces they sprawled out on during the pandemic, such as sidewalks or parking lots.

“There is a certain population that always wants to be outside and that helps us on busy nights when people want to be outside that we can add more seats,” Smith said.

Smith said the biggest change for him is that companies can now order alcohol and have it delivered like beer and wine. Previously, restaurant staff had to go to several warehouses to pick up their alcohol orders.

“Sending a manager to the warehouse to pick up 15 cases of alcohol to put in the back of his car and drive through town is ridiculous,” Smith said.

The bill also allows cities to create social neighborhoods, outside of designated areas, where people can buy, transport and drink alcohol.

“This, in essence, puts bars and restaurants on a par with beer carts and other vendors that are often part of special events like festivals,” said Lynn Minges, CEO of North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Also among the changes, people attending sporting events in public schools can now purchase two drinks at a time instead of one.

While a large majority of the House and Senate passed ABC Omnibus legislation, Senator Jim Burgin (R-Harnett) expressed concern over the increase in alcohol consumption in the state.

“We were up 41% last year and in April alone we were up 17%,” Burgin said. “One of my big concerns is that this will allow open containers in a lot of places people take their families.”

Other changes also include easing restrictions for distilleries to sell alcohol made outside of the facility.

Click here to see a full list of changes made by HB890.


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