Bill to modernize liquor sales, restaurant distribution and outside dining in NC heads to Cooper’s desk

North Carolina News

RALEIGH N.C. (WNCN) – If Gov. Roy Cooper signs off on House Bill 890, many changes are coming to North Carolina ABC stores, distilleries and restaurants in the way they sell alcohol.

This comes after the North Carolina House and Senate passed sweeping legislation aimed at modernizing the state’s regulations of alcohol sales and consumption.

“We need to modernize the system while also protecting the integrity of controlling alcohol in the state,” said Rep. Tim Moffitt (R-Henderson), who introduced the bill in the House.

First, ABC stores will soon be able to take online orders and payments.

“They will set that beverage aside, they’ll hold it a few days waiting for you to pick it up,” Moffitt said. “Only the person who orders the product can pick it up.”

Jason Smith, owner of Cantina 18, said the way restaurants buy and sell alcohol has largely stayed the same for decades.

“Very little change has happened since they were first enacted in the 70s. You can’t find any business that hasn’t done some changes in the last 50 years,” Smith said.

Restaurants can now keep serving alcohol in outside spaces they expanded onto during the pandemic, like sidewalks or parking lots.

“There’s a certain populous that still want’s to be outside and then it helps us on busy nights when people want to be outside that we can add more seating,” Smith said.

Smith said for him the biggest change is that businesses can now order liquor and get it delivered like beer and wine. Before, restaurant staff would have to go to multiple warehouses to pick up their liquor orders.

“Sending a manager to the warehouse to pick up 15 cases of liquor to put into the back of his or her car and drive across town, it’s ridiculous,” Smith said.

The bill also allows cities to create social districts, outside designated areas where people can buy, carry and drink alcohol.

“That, in essence, puts bars and restaurants on a level playing card with beer carts and other providers that are often a part of special events like festivals,” Lynn Minges, CEO of North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association said.

Also among the changes, people at sporting events at state schools can now buy two drinks at a time instead of one.

While a large majority of the House and Senate passed the ABC Omnibus Legislation, Sen. Jim Burgin (R-Harnett) expressed concern over rising alcohol use in the state.

“We were up last year 41 percent and just in April we were up 17 percent,” Burgin said. “One of my big concerns is it is going to allow open containers in a lot of places that people take their families.”

Other changes also include loosening restrictions for distilleries to sell alcohol made outside the facility.

Click here to see a full list of changes made by HB890.

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