Selling take-away cocktails and capping fees charged by third-party delivery services have helped restaurants keep lights on while their operations were restricted during the COVID-19 crisis, Massachusetts restaurant owners said on Monday when they spoke out in favor of extending these temporary charges beyond the current state of emergency.
To encourage restaurants that were initially only intended for takeout and then faced capacity constraints and distancing requirements that limited the number of customers they could serve, lawmakers allowed and limited the sales of beer, wine and cocktails with take-away orders Fees that restaurants pay for delivery to apps like Grubhub and DoorDash are at 15 percent.
Both provisions are related to the duration of the state of emergency, which is now set to end on June 15.
Massachusetts restaurants can now sell up to two take-away cocktails per starter. The local owners hope this will help them make a profit during the pandemic.
“Small businesses, restaurants, bars, and other businesses are working on these very narrow margins and have an impact on their return on sales that makes them instantly unprofitable,” said Jackson Cannon, the bartender of the now-closed Kenmore Square Bars and Restaurants Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar and The Hawthorne. “Any of these extra aids, especially take-away cocktails and capping of fees, must be long enough to get us out of this situation and hopefully protect as many companies as possible.”
Senator Diana DiZoglio tabled bills (SD 2556, S 196) to extend the cap on the delivery fee and take-away drinks permit by two years beyond the end of the state of emergency, and has proposed changes to the Senate budget that put forward will be up for debate next week, that would do the same.
“Our local restaurants depend on us to take immediate action to stay afloat in this unprecedented time,” said the Methuen Democrat during a Zoom rally.