Local restaurants, struggling from the impact of the coronavirus, have an additional sales opportunity after the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board authorized restaurants with an on-premise license to temporarily make curbside sales of alcohol.
The emergency authorization allows restaurants to sell 75 milliliter bottles of spirits and wine or up to a six-pack of beer. The rule does not allow the sale of mixed drinks or open containers.
This ABC action came as many traditional and fast-food restaurants throughout Decatur went Wednesday to mainly drive-thru and curbside sales.
Henry “Trey” Atwood, owner of Cross-Eyed Owl Brewing Co. on First Avenue Northeast, said the state Brewers’ Guild is trying to get the ABC Board to increase the amount of alcohol in the authorization.
“Right now, if they come inside the taproom, they can buy 280 ounces, which is equal to a case, but they're only allowed a six-pack (curbside),” Atwood said.
Even though business has dropped 30% to 50% this week, Atwood said he plans to keep his taproom open “until they force us to shut down.”
City Attorney Herman Marks said the City Council does not have to make any changes to city ordinances to allow curbside sales of alcohol.
“ABC regulates alcohol sales and, if they change the rules on an emergency, we will follow their guidelines,” Marks said.
The Brick owner Tina Hall welcomed the emergency authorization. Inside business has slowed down, but her East Moulton Street restaurant is having success with curbside sales, either in front of the store or in the parking lot.
“At this point, we’ll do anything and everything we can to help our business,” Hall said Wednesday.
However, restaurant owners Tyler Jones and Steve Conner aren’t interested in curbside sales of alcohol.
Jones has already temporarily closed his restaurant, The RailYard. His other businesses, Whisk’d Café and High Point Market, remain open.
Jones said he doesn’t believe it would be financially viable to keep The RailYard open to sell alcohol or food curbside. The restaurant is not set up to sell food curbside because the kitchen staff makes meals upon order.
Conner said an issue for Hard Dock Cafe is it can't match the prices that are available at state-run ABC stores or a privately owned store that sells alcohol as part of its normal business.
Conner said Hard Dock remains open but, like at other eateries, business is down dramatically and that’s impacting staffing.
“Why would they buy (alcohol) from us?” Conner said. “And I don’t think it’s worth bringing in a staff just to do to-go orders, even with alcohol sales.”
Numerous eateries and stores in town have made changes connected to coronavirus precautions.
These were some changes in effect Wednesday on Sixth Avenue:
• MAPCO, limit of 10 people in store;
• McDonald's, take-out only;
• Zaxby’s, dining room closed;
• Bojangles', dining room closed;
• Taco Bell, drive-thru only;
• Big Bob Gibson, drive-thru and walk-in carryout only; and
• Arby’s, drive-thru and carryout only.
Downtown, Josie's had a sign on its door explaining that it won't open until 3 p.m. "until further notice." Next door on Second Avenue Northeast, Steakdown Street was closed Wednesday but planned to reopen today.
Curtis Parker, one of Steakdown Street's owners, said the decision to take a day for thorough cleaning and disinfecting was a response to expected lower customer traffic. "Trying to make the best of a bad situation," he said.