HARRISBURG, Pa. - Following a call from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, the state Senate advanced legislation Wednesday that would allow bars and restaurants to continue selling cocktails to-go.
But Wolf has expressed dissatisfaction with the version that passed though, due to a provision that allows grocery stores and other businesses to sell canned and bottled hard liquor drinks.
As of Tuesday, restaurants and bars were no longer to serve drinks to-go. A provision that allowed those sales due to the pandemic was no longer valid.
The news came as a shock to Neville Gardner, owner of McCarthy's Red Stag and Pub in Bethlehem.
"Ouch, yeah big shock. Cocktails To-Go really kept us in business last year," Gardner said.
It's been a big money maker, even as restrictions ease up.
"Not everyone is comfortable, there is still a percentage of people, not vaccinated, or just not comfortable coming inside," Gardner said.
Bar Manager Sherry Moore said people grew to love the option and so the restaurant had big plans for Musikfest. Unless the state reverses course, those plans are out the window, along with a big chunk of change that would have come with it.
"We were going to do pouches, like Capri Sun pouches to-go. We were getting ready to order. It would have been $40,000, which would have really helped from last year," Moore said.
Todd Pasini, with 3PA Restaurant Group, which owns Tapas on Main, Urbano, and the Flying Egg on Main Street, said customers have loved the to-go convenience.
"They really enjoyed it. People wanted to take a little bit with them, had a great experience at restaurant, and a great little nightcap for later," Pasini said.
It became a good revenue stream, but now that stream looks to be dried up, unless the state legislature passes new legislation extending it.
"Hopefully, we'll be back. I'd love to see it be made permanent. I think it is a nice feature for downtown restaurants," Pasini said.
The House will also consider the bill.