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St. Louis restaurant owner wants 'to-go' cocktails permanently

A waiver for “to-go” cocktail sales has been extended until June 15 though a permanent change faces pushback from big-box retailers.

ST. LOUIS — Though the waiver for some “to-go” alcohol sales has been extended another month, one St. Louis area restaurant owner wants Missouri to make the change permanent.

"I typically don't jump into the political arena very much so this is very new to me, reaching out to senators and trying to get legislative staff," Mission Taco Joint's Adam Tilford said. 

In April, the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control announced it would be temporarily waiving a restriction on some “to-go” alcohol sales to help businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Normally, “to-go” alcohol sales were limited to products in their original packaging but the waiver allowed retailer-packaged alcoholic drinks under certain conditions.

The temporary rules allowed businesses that hold liquor licenses to sell mixed drinks in “to-go” plastic or Styrofoam cups with straws or loose covers.

"Benjamin Brown with Satchmo's was instrumental in the beginning of this as well," Tilford said, adding they're now also working with the Missouri Restaurant Association.

That alliance may prove key as Tilford said their permanent change faces pushback from big-box alcohol retailers.

"Our margins are already razor-thin, and -- for the most part -- restaurants make a better profit margin on the liquor sales. So why should all of those sales go to big box retailers? Why should the Total Wines of the world be the only ones that get to sell alcohol to go?" Tilford said.

5 On Your Side reached out to Total Wine & More's corporate office and got a response that said they don't oppose a temporary order or extension allowing curbside cocktail sales, but Vice President of Public Affairs & Community Relations Edward Cooper added, "Whether this temporary measure should become a permanent law is a decision that needs to needs to be made by the state legislature with the input and consideration of the views of all affected parties."

RELATED: Drinks to-go: Missouri eases up on alcohol restrictions for restaurants, businesses during COVID-19

The ability to sell curbside has gone so well for Mission Taco, Tilford said they are reopening the two of the locations that shuttered during stay-at-home orders.

"I mean, with the margarita sales comes food sales. So it's increased both the food and liquor, and this doesn't just affect us," Tilford said of the positive impact it's had on increased vendor orders and return staff.

On Monday, Tilford made a tweet asking his restaurant friends to help make “to-go” cocktail sales permanent for restaurants in Missouri by sending a message to the Senate asking to get legislation passed on the matter.

The current order now expires June 15.

RELATED: St. Louis restaurants sell cocktails and margaritas as state lifts restrictions

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