Are To-Go Alcohol Sales Still Boosting Bottom Lines for Business?

by Brianna Pacelli

After two years of fewer diners and lost revenue, the permanent ability to still sell liquor to-go is helping restaurants rebound from the COVID closures.

The nationwide lockdown in March 2020 forced many restaurants to temporarily close, alter business plans or shut down entirely. As pandemic uncertainty grew, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed an executive order allowing the to-go sale of alcoholic drinks.

What some people don’t know is that the executive order allowing off-premises consumption of alcohol remains in effect and continues to help businesses bounce back.

Gary’s Liquor, which has been open for eight years on 24th Street in Phoenix, is owned by Sam Tahun. Tahun said to-go alcohol has improved the revenue of his business since this bill has been passed.

“It’s good, I’m happy with it,” said Tahun with regard to also being able to deliver alcohol through delivery apps such as Uber Eats, Doordash and Postmates.

HB 2773 was enacted to help company owners like Tahun keep their operations running during the pandemic. Despite the fact that we are still living in the midst of the pandemic two years later, this bill will remain permanent in Arizona.

According to the governor’s website, when Ducey signed this executive order, he said House Bill 2773 would ensure that restaurants and bars can grow their operations and meet the needs of their consumers, especially after the pandemic has passed.

Don Bogert, chief operating officer at the Arizona Restaurant Association, said on the whole, trends for seeking out to-go have skyrocketed since the pandemic. “Whether that’s through delivery, pickup or curb side, that section of the industry has been accelerating,” he said.

Referring to lost revenue caused by a prolonged loss of sales opportunity, Bogart says, “This opens that door to allow them to recapture some of that revenue.”

Restaurants have also had the option of allowing customers to carry alcohol off the premises, but the results have been different from those of liquor stores. Some restaurants, such as Jackalope Gastropub, have seen a decrease in revenue as a result of this ability.

Jackalope Gastropub is a neighborhood bar and restaurant located in downtown Phoenix that sells alcoholic beverages to-go as long as the customer also orders food.

“It hasn’t improved business; it was useful to have during the lockdown where we could sell a couple cocktails or beer with to-go orders, but in terms of present times it can have a negative effect since it has the potential to drive down sales from customers that would have spent more if they had stayed at the restaurant,” said owner Miras Ashktorab. “People expect grocery prices for to-go beers and cocktails, which would take away our profit margin since the cost of goods for us is much higher than liquor stores and grocery stores.”

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