Permanent alcohol to-go could help keep Texas restaurants in business

The Texas Restaurant Association said making alcohol to go permanent could help save the industry. Restaurants were among the hardest-hit businesses in 2020 and many owners said they will need innovative ideas and financial help to survive.

Restaurants were shut down for six weeks in the Spring of 2020 and then immediately asked to change their entire business model in order to prioritize delivery and to-go orders.

"For many restaurants, it is never going to be sustainable to be to-go only. That's just not what they were set up to do. And then the math doesn't add up. There's definitely more costs and expenses when it comes to delivery and pickup orders," said Kelsey Erickson Streufert, vice president of government relations and advocacy for the Texas Restaurant Association. 

Streufert said a waiver signed by Governor Greg Abbott allowing restaurants to sell alcohol to go was the break many restaurant owners needed.

"It's literally saved jobs. I know many restaurants who had to lay off a lot of their employees at the start of the pandemic and they were able to rehire many of them when Governor Abbott's waiver went into effect," said Streufert.  

Last week, Abbott tweeted, "Let's make alcohol to go an official law in Texas."

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The Texas Restaurant Association said that's one of the ways they're hoping legislators will help save the industry.

"We have some other priorities, too. We're really looking for some kind of financial relief for the sector and data point after data point tells us that we're one of the largest industries and we were one of the hardest hit," Streufert said. 

Other ideas TRA is serving up to lawmakers include transparency and protections for restaurants from third-party delivery services, grocery waivers for those that sold goods to customers during the shutdown, and pandemic liability protections. 

"The good news is a lot of these issues are truly bipartisan, we think, common sense that the whole business and consumer community can get behind," said Streufert. 

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