Comments on Premises Expansion
Comments received during the week of September 11 to September 17, 2022.
This email is a comment on the proposed language contained in the Licensing of Permanent Non-Contiguous Areas rulemaking:
As an ABC license holder with multiple locations, and having looked at many future opportunities to expand my business, I strongly disapprove of the proposed rule as written in Section 70 (d) (3), referenced below.
“Patrons may not leave the licensed premises with an open container of any alcoholic beverage, even to traverse from the primary or main area to the non-contiguous area. The licensee, or an employee of the licensee, shall deliver all alcoholic beverages to patrons in the licensed non-contiguous area.”
If there is a silver lining from the struggles and hardship that everyone has suffered from the pandemic, the expansion of outdoor dining would be one that I would highlight as a success. ABC and the California legislature worked together to support struggling businesses for once by relaxing rules to expand outdoor dining and the consumption of alcoholic beverages outside, which was a major victory for the public at large. The current proposed rule will dial that back, having a negative impact on both the public and on businesses like mine.
In brief, the prohibition of allowing customers to carry their own drinks from the point of purchase at a casual, counter service bar to their table is arbitrary and short sighted. This prohibition does absolutely nothing to protect the public, but will only serve to damage small businesses that operate without servers. ABC has not considered the fact that labor is the most expensive line item for nearly every bar and restaurant. Requiring table service only adds to the cost of these small businesses and threatens their ability to operate profitably. Furthermore, the businesses that are able to survive with this rule will have to continually raise their prices to cover the rising cost of labor, which ultimately hurts the pocketbook of the general public.
I urge ABC to take into consideration the many small businesses that operate with a small staff, but offer a relaxed, casual environment that does not require table service. In these instances, staff are able to actively monitor the licensed non-contiguous areas to ensure public safety, while also bussing tables and cleaning up. However, they are not required to provide table service, which can be both awkward and highly unnecessary at a casual counter/bar service restaurant. Furthermore, I urge ABC to consider the fact that most people are fully capable of carrying their own drink from a bar to their table. This is not a difficult skill and it does not protect the public in any way.
This rule is completely arbitrary and unnecessary and should be removed in its entirety. ABC licensing staff should have the ability to work within the law to decide what is necessary to protect the public and what makes sense within a given business. These blanket overbearing rules ultimately hurt businesses and the public who lose the option of choice and pay higher prices every time they dine out.
Please reconsider and revise the text of this ruling.
Comments will be addressed at the end of the comment period.