“Doggy Bags” just got a lot more fun in Florida.
With a smile and “Cheers, members,” Florida Representative Josie Tomkow (R-District 39) led the House late Wednesday night to a 111 to one vote approving a bill which allows restaurants to sell alcoholic drinks with to-go, take-home and delivery food orders. This was the bill’s final stop before heading to the governor to be signed into law.
As the realities of the pandemic hit last spring, restaurants struggled to adapt to the new business environment. Many shifted exclusively to take-out for several months. One of the actions Governor Ron DeSantis took to assist these businesses was to issue an executive order that allowed “alcohol to go.”
He has supported making this order permanent and is expected to sign this legislation into law..
Approved earlier in the day by the Florida Senate, the final version included an amendment which placed some limits on selling alcoholic drinks with take-out and delivery orders including stipulating that no one under 21 was allowed to deliver alcohol, that to-go drinks orders would end at the same time as scheduled food service, and that drinks must be in secured in containers and placed in locked compartments, vehicle trunks or behind the last row of vehicle seats, etc.
The passage of the bill was celebrated by restaurants and delivery services.
The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) issued a statement saying “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants across Florida were permitted to sell alcohol-to-go with food orders pursuant to Governor DeSantis’ executive order. This was a critical lifeline for establishments who were closed to indoor dining and desperate to keep their businesses from shuttering. Following the rules closely, these restaurants demonstrated the sale of alcohol for off-premises consumption to be a practice that can be done safely.”
FRLA’s President and CEO Carol Dover said, “We are so pleased for the final passage of SB 148. Alcohol-to-go continues to be an important source of revenue for restaurants that are struggling to survive. We are grateful to Senator Jennifer Bradley and Representative Josie Tomkow for sponsoring this legislation. They are champions for our industry. We would also like to thank the coalition of businesses and organizations that worked closely together to advocate for this great legislation: Uber, Anheuser-Busch, The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, and the Florida Independent Spirits Association. We are grateful to Governor DeSantis for creating this lifeline through his executive orders, and we are excited to advocate for his signature on this good bill.”
Uber’s Senior Manager Public Affairs Javi Correoso said, “Uber thanks both Sen. Bradley and Rep. Tomkow, as well as House and Senate leadership, for prioritizing SB 148/HB 329 and ensuring that alcohol delivery remains a permanent option for Florida restaurants. The overwhelming, bipartisan support emphasizes the positive economic impact that alcohol delivery has had on restaurant owners and their ability to maintain successful businesses during COVID-19, while also helping to steady Florida’s local economies. We look forward for this measure to become law under Gov. DeSantis’ leadership on this issue.”