To-Go Alcohol Is Over, With Some Help From Michael-Towne?

Alcohol “to-go” service from restaurants and bars is forbidden again, perhaps in part due to pressure from a liquor store trade group — headed by the owner of Michael-Towne Wine And Spirits — that viewed it as cutting into their business.

Since March of last year, licensed restaurants and bars were given the permission to offer the takeout and delivery of alcoholic drinks under a 30-day executive order that had been renewed every month throughout the COVID-19 “State of Emergency”. With the lifting of that state of emergency, the order has expired, and non-beer-delivery alcohol sales are once again against the law. The NYS legislature failed to pass any bill that would expressly permit licensed restaurants and bars to offer “to-go” alcohol sales before the end of its recent legislative session. The NYS Assembly bill is currently languishing in committee.

According to The Albany Times-Union, one trade group in particular, the Metro Package Store Association, was quite strenuous in their opposition to the bill being acted upon:

It distributed a call to action last week that included a sample letter that member businesses could modify and send to their legislators. It states flat opposition to enacting takeout alcohol into law and direly predicts that allowing bottles for takeout from restaurants would “destroy our business,” although that measure was removed from the bills before the MPSA letter was sent out.

In addition to that, the letter claimed that restaurants and bars were “well on their way to recovery”, and that liquor stores were at a disadvantage, since most close at 9pm.

The Executive Director of the Metro Package Store Association is Michael A. Correra, who also owns local liquor store Michael-Towne Wine And Spirits (hours currently 11am-9pm, 12pm-6pm on Sundays). Its Board of Directors also includes Matthew LaSorsa of Heights Chateau Wine And Spirits. So whether you are for or against “to-go” alcohol service, now you know who to thank!

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  • Teresa

    If I remember correctly, the same organization and Correra specifically were active in defeating the proposal for grocery stores to expand their alcoholic offerings.

    Interesting comment that restaurants are well on their way to recovery, when liquor store sales boomed throughout the pandemic. Seems rather churlish.

  • Qfwfq

    Didn’t fit it into the post, but I did come across this at one point:

  • Claude Scales

    New York’s laws governing sales of alcohol are byzantine. They are designed to do two things: protect the market power of both retailers, like Michael-Towne, and wholesalers of alcoholic beverages, and to make obtaining such beverages as difficult and expensive as possible for consumers and for retailers.

  • meschwar

    NY certainly isn’t the only, or worst, offender as far as “illogical and unnecessary” liquors laws go, but we have the opportunity right now to make it so much better. (Honestly, they should make open containers legal. That’s a win for everyone!)

  • StudioBrooklyn

    And those byzantine laws wouldn’t be complete without egregiously disproportionate enforcement depending on ones skin color/zip code. We all know who is harmed by these laws and who is not.

  • Teresa

    Thanks for that. Interesting read.

  • libertyftw

    Let’s band together and ensure no business is given to Michael Correra or Michael-Town wines. Relying on regulatory capture for the future of your business is the ultimate amateur move, and shows he and his members have no plan to innovate.

    Do not buy from him or frequent his store.

  • libertyftw

    It will make you even more mad when you realize these open container laws weren’t even concepted until the 1970’s when the wrong color of people were drinking outdoors. These are flat racist.

  • Arch Stanton

    The law was passed in 1979, before that you could drink in public along as the container was nondescript or covered “Brown Bag” or “Bum Bag” ing it… I did receive a couple of summonses for open container, back in the day.

  • Ajeng Triska
  • Nomcebo Manzini

    All of those of us who are thoughtful wonder how much of our tax dollars are wasted – whether it’s robot police dogs in NYC or “cutting edge” defense stuff that we don’t really even know about coming out of D.C.

    I’m not arguing for “small government,” but the disproportionate taxes on things like tobacco and alcohol are every bit as dubious as reliance on sales taxes over income taxes. Ditto, selling lottery tickets. When it’s liquor stores tussling with restaurants, I’m not sure I have a favorite. But if “government” didn’t still suffer from the illusion that it can change behavior by getting involved in “sinful” businesses [their view], things would be very different.

    Meanwhile, this NYC with too many tourists being replaced by NYC with too much eating and drinking on the streets … needs a long hard look – which it’s not getting.

    5-10% of the City’s population really thinks that quality of life is improved, 10-20% probably think the opposite. The latter are right!

    If teens sold alcoholic beverages in BBP the way kids used to sell lemonade, we’d go ballistic. Restaurants selling “doubles” the way Fascatti sells pizza is NOT a good thing.

  • libertyftw

    Don’t think I understand your point – apolgoies. Are you saying that NY has turned into a nanny state, but then arguing that we need more nanny state?

    Either way, Brooklyn needs a harsh wakeup from its 20-year hangover of poor civic design and even poorer civic operations. Dedicated residential zoning and more buildouts of parking lots, caps or incentives on parking fees for private lots, pedestrian-first streets, customer-first takeout laws, and common-sense open container laws that bring responsible civic planning, foster community, and ticket Chads and Beckys for public disturbance/intoxication would go a long way to improving the neighborhood.