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Restaurant industry wants cocktail takeout, delivery to boost sales during pandemic

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The restaurant industry is hoping lawmakers will take a new step to help struggling restaurant owners during the pandemic.

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association is working with lawmakers to put together a bill that would allow more businesses to sell alcoholic drinks for takeout.

Right now, some restaurants have been able to offer cocktail kits but alcohol can only be sold in factory-sealed containers, so they haven't been able to make mixed drinks.

"There's a lot of restaurants on the brink of closing and we're trying to help them navigate in any way, shape, or form to survive," said Wisconsin Restaurant Association president Kristine Hillmer.

Hillmer says the individually-packaged drinks would have to be sealed before going out to a customer, to avoid risks on the roads. She compares it to picking up a bottle of beer at the grocery store.

"What would be required is that the cocktail be put into a container that can be sealed, and it's tamper resistant so that you can see that, should there be an issue, that consumer ripped that tamper resistant seal off, they broke that open, so that it's something that is readily apparent," she said.

Cocktail kits have been a way to help struggling restaurants stay afloat.

Black Bear Inn manager Kate DeRosa says her family's Cottage Grove restaurant has been able to offer their Wisconsin favorite, the Old Fashioned, along with takeout orders to help boost sales.

"That definitely helps. It helps to add any sort of drink onto a menu or an order, even if it's just a soda," she told 27 News. "It also helps us move product. That's a big thing for us when the pandemic first started we had all these bottles of beer that were going to expire."

The Wisconsin Restaurant Association is also looking at the possibility of a measure to approve delivery of alcohol, which is not allowed right now.

Industry leaders say it appears there is support among lawmakers for these proposals. Similar measures have passed in other states.

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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