Will Cheek's Last Call Blog

A Blog About Alcohol and Beverage Law

Tennessee extends alcohol carryout and delivery through May 29

blog

SHARE THIS

Tennessee extends alcohol carryout and delivery through May 29

Apr 29, 2020

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee extended the executive order allowing drive-through, carryout and delivery of beer, wine and spirits for restaurants. Read Executive Order 30 here

Restaurants, limited-service restaurants and wine-only restaurants can continue to sell carryout and deliver alcoholic beverages and beer. There is no additional license or permission needed to deliver.

We urge folks to keep hustling during these difficult times and check Last Call for updates. The Tennessee ABC has posted FAQs here.

Here is our summary of the rules of engagement for to-go, curbside, drive-through and delivery:

Alcohol must be delivered with food. At least one item of food must be sold in every order containing alcohol. The amount of food required is not specified, but given the emergency nature of this order, we encourage restaurants not to play games and count lime slices as food, for example.

Licensees are still required to be responsible. Restaurants can set rules, such as one entrée per two single-serving margaritas. You can always require that customers order a meal or set a minimum dollar amount of food for deliveries.

You can deliver cocktails! As long as the package has a secure lid, we read the order as allowing delivery of margaritas, cocktails and other mixed drinks.

Alcohol must be packaged in a container or bottle with a secure lid or cap. We read this rule to mean that the container must be closed. Closed is not the same as sealed. For example, a lid screwed on the top of a plastic jug is closed. Alcohol does not have to be sealed, meaning you do not have to attach seals like you would find on commercial products at grocery stores.

The ABC advises restaurants to “cover containers in a reasonable manner that would require the consumer to unpackage them for consumption.” For example, we believe a styrofoam container with a lid that does not have a straw hole will work. If all your lids have straw holes, tape the straw holes.

Bottles and cans of beer and wine can be delivered. This includes regular-sized wine bottles. No bottles of spirits or liquor.

Single serving packages only. Although beer and wine by the bottle may be sold, no other multi-serving containers are allowed. For purposes of single servings, the ABC says no more than 16 oz. of beer, 9 oz. of wine or 4 oz. of spirits in a container with not more than 16 ounces of total liquid.

No more carafes of sangria or pitchers of margaritas to-go. You can sell multiple single-serving containers with a meal, although we continue to recommend moderation under this emergency order.

Mini bottles of spirits present a conundrum. State law prohibits the sale of spirits by the bottle. However, Governor Lee’s order specifically authorizes “single servings of alcoholic beverages.”

In our humble opinion, Executive Order 30 allows a restaurant to deliver mini bottles of spirits, provided it is clear that the mini bottle is intended for a single serving. We advise folks to securely tape or otherwise attach a mini bottle of spirits to the mixer. That way, it is abundantly clear that the two items - the container and the mini bottle - are intended to be a single serving. Do not play games and toss 12 mini bottles of tequila in a bag and consider yourself in compliance with the order.

The executive order only applies to full-service restaurants, wine-only restaurants and limited service restaurants. Hotels, caterers, premier-type tourist resorts, convention centers and other special license types cannot deliver or sell alcohol to-go under the executive order.

Get your beer here. Restaurants do not need permission from their local beer board to deliver under the Governor’s order.

If you are a brewery, hotel or other business that does not hold a restaurant license, you can register with your local beer board to deliver beer in in Bristol, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville. These local beer boards have specifically authorized carryout and delivery of regular beer. There are broader rights for beer-only delivery and growlers are fine in these cities and any other city that has specifically authorized carryout and delivery of beer. Read more about beer delivery here.

Mandatory carding for deliveries. You must card. Sales cannot be made to under 21 or intoxicated persons.

Drivers do not have to physically touch an identification to verify age. Because orders are most likely paid in advance, online or via phone, there is no need for drivers to risk potential contamination and make physical content with the customer. Have the customer hold their own ID out for the driver to read. Or better yet, read it through a glass storm window.

That said, drivers need to ensure that they properly ID. We encourage Redbox carding and closer scrutiny of all Redbox IDs.

Drivers must be at least 21 years of age and have a valid driver’s license.

Delivery services can deliver your alcohol. Restaurants can use their own employees or third-party delivery services such as Postmates and Uber Eats to deliver alcohol. Delivery personnel are not required to have server permit cards or any special qualifications.

With a third-party delivery service, you should ensure that delivery personnel are properly trained for carding. Some delivery services are not set up to require carding.

Keep in mind that if you are using a third-party delivery service, your restaurant remains liable for sales to minors, intoxicated persons or the violation of any other law.  A restaurant will not be able to avoid liability by saying “the Uber driver did it.”

Restaurants must post a sign with the following notice: “No driver shall consume any alcoholic beverage or beer or possess an open container of alcoholic beverage or beer while operating a motor vehicle in this state.” Although the order is not clear, we advise folks to post the sign on the wall, with your liquor license.

Carryout and delivery of alcohol are limited to current operating hours, which is not defined. We advise folks to adhere to the normal sales hours for beer and alcoholic beverages.

Curbside and drive-through. The order does not specifically address curbside and drive-through, but given the intent of the order, we believe it is OK to deliver drinks curbside and through drive-through windows.

Do not stage alcohol pick up outside.Restaurants cannot stage multiple alcohol deliveries at tables outside the restaurant’s licensed premises. We understand that it is convenient for multiple orders to be brought out for immediate pickup at curbside. Although this is okay for food, alcohol must stay inside the restaurant until the customer or delivery service arrives for pickup. A licensed patio is fine for staging. But not your parking lot.

Alcohol must come from the restaurant’s inventory. A restaurant cannot buy or deliver alcohol from a retail liquor store, food store or another restaurant. You must purchase your alcohol from a wholesaler.

Collect sales tax. Restaurants do not collect the 15% liquor by the drink tax for all wine and spirits sold to-go or for delivery, including bottles and cans of beer, wine and single-serve cocktails. You do have to collect sales tax. Here is the post from Revenue. (link to attached). If you have more tax questions, see our post here.

Delivery applies to restaurants statewide, but we urge folks to exercise discretion and not deliver to dry towns and counties. We suspect that the Governor did not intend for delivery to areas that have not approved of liquor-by-the-drink.

Restaurants with dining privileges can serve alcohol for on-premise consumption. Just like a regular patron dining at a table, restaurants can serve alcohol to customers that are waiting to pick up carryout, provided that the restaurant’s dining room can legally be open. Tennessee restaurants were allowed to reopen for dining beginning April 27, except for the six counties in the state within independent health departments (Chattanooga – Hamilton, Jackson – Madison, Kingsport & Bristol – Sullivan, Knoxville – Knox, Memphis – Shelby and Nashville – Davidson), which are allowed to establish their own rules for reopening. In these cities, you currently cannot pour a beer or drink while guests wait on to-go orders.

The Order expires on May 29, 2020. The Governor may extend delivery privileges, but for now, the Order expires by its own terms at midnight on May 29.

Continue reading
  609 Hits
  0 Comments
609 Hits
0 Comments

Tennessee Pledge to Reopen Restaurants

blog

SHARE THIS

Tennessee Pledge to Reopen Restaurants

Apr 29, 2020

The Governor’s Economic Recovery Group issued Tennessee Pledge, "a plan to help Tennesseans return to work in a safe environment, restore their livelihoods and reboot our state’s economy."

Restaurants are expected to follow the guidelines in the pledge. The pledge is mandatory for limited service restaurants, as specified in Executive Order 30.

Here is a copy of the Tennessee Pledge Guidelines for Restaurants

This is our summary of the guidelines for re-opening:

1. Screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms. Ask all employees:

Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19? Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat? Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours? Have you had new loss of taste or smell? Have you had vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours?

2. Temperature screen all employees on a daily basis. 

Best practice: temperatures on site with a no-touch thermometer each day upon arrival. At a minimum, employees take their own temperatures before arriving. Normal temperature should not exceed 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Any employee that answers yes to any of the screening questions or is running a fever, must leave the premises and seek medical care and/or COVID-19 testing.

4. Employees are to stay home when feeling ill, when exposed to COVID-19, or if diagnosed with COVID-19. Employees that are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 due to age or underlying conditions are encouraged to stay home

5. Implement workplace cleaning and disinfection practices, according to CDC guidelines, with regular sanitization of high-touch surfaces at least every two hours.

6. Mitigate exposure in the workplace by implementing social distancing guidelines and modify scheduling. Further is safer, per the guidelines.

7. Employees must wear masks or cloth face covering (but not N-95 or medical masks).

8. Restaurant employees must wear gloves.

9. Provide ServSafe COVID-19 training for all food handlers as soon as possible

10. Plan for potential COVID-19 cases, and work with local health department officials when needed (e.g., monitor and trace COVID-19 cases, deep clean facilities).

11. Make employees aware of the provisions of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which allows for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for COVID-19.

12. Update employee policies for COVID-19.  Staff should sign the policy, and the policy should be posted.

13. Limit self-service options (customer samples, communal packaging, food/beverages, etc.)

14. Post extensive signage on health policies to educate staff and guests about COVID-19 best practices, including the attached.

Specific guidelines for restaurants.

• Limit the number of customers in the restaurant to 50% of seating capacity

• Tables should be spaced at least 6 feet apart

• Limit tables to no more than 6 guests per table

• Mark any indoor or outdoor waiting area so that social distancing standards are met

(options can include a text system to alert guests of available seating, an intercom

system, or only one member of a party being allowed to wait in the waiting area)

• Bar areas should remain closed

• Live music should not be permitted

• Screen customers for illness upon their entry into the restaurant:

            Best practice: Temperature checks for every customer.

            Minimum: Question customers regarding COVID-19 symptoms:

                        Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?

                        Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat?

                        Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?

• Place hand sanitizer stations in restaurant lobby and bathrooms, as well as cashier stations

• Sanitize all front-of-house contact surfaces including door handles, screens, phones,

pens, keyboards and other areas of hand contact every two hours, at a minimum

• Use menus that are disposable or sanitized between each use

• Use rolled silverware/napkins stored in sealed bins (gloves should be used by staff while rolling silverware in designated sanitary areas)

• Sanitize all tabletop items, including condiments, after each table turns (or use disposables)

• Sanitize chairs, especially where contact occurs, after each table turns

• Do not offer self-serve buffets, condiments on a counter for use by multiple tables, or beverage station re-use

Although the pledge mandates that bar areas remain closed, many restaurants have set up their bars for carry out and delivery. As long as social distancing and other precautions are employed, we do not see this as violating the pledge.

Stay tuned for more guidelines.

Continue reading
  583 Hits
  0 Comments
583 Hits
0 Comments

Restaurants and Bars Shift Their Business Models, Prepare for Reopening

podcast

SHARE THIS

Restaurants and Bars Shift Their Business Models, Prepare for Reopening

Apr 28, 2020

Welcome to PointByPoint, conversations, interviews and legal commentary for today's business professionals, brought to you by Waller.

Restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and tasting rooms have closed their doors as a result of “stay at home” orders. These businesses have rapidly shifted their business models in order to generate revenue and keep employees working – food and alcohol delivery, curbside pickup, and more. Will Cheek and Rob Pinson, leaders of the firm’s alcoholic beverage team, discuss the changes in licensing and regulations, what’s ahead for restaurants, bars, distilleries and other hospitality clients, and practical considerations as they contemplate the future of their businesses.

Continue reading
  587 Hits
  0 Comments
587 Hits
0 Comments

TTB rolls out new rules for distilleries, wineries and breweries

TTB rolls out new rules for distilleries, wineries and breweries TTB rolls out new rules for distilleries, wineries and breweries

blog

SHARE THIS

TTB rolls out new rules for distilleries, wineries and breweries

Apr 27, 2020

The federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, fondly known as TTB, issued final rules that contain a few game-changers for the alcoholic beverage manufacturing industry.

We are particularly fond of the greater flexibility offered to distilleries. Distilleries can now count the years bourbon or whisky are aged in used barrels.  Previously, a whisky or bourbon could only list the number of years aged in new oak barrels.

“You can innovate, but not get punished for aging in an unconventional barrel,” observed Waller’s whisky lawyer to the stars, Rob Pinson.

Under the new rules, whisky aged for 4 years in new barrels, and an additional 3 years in used rye barrels, can be called 7-year-old whisky.  Previously, it was 4-year old-whisky.

The most controversial proposal did not make the final cut.  TTB did not attempt to define what constitutes an “oak barrel.”

In the past, we understand that industry member posed lots of questions about barrels:  Can I use square barrels?  Can I use 35-gallon barrels?  Does the barrel have to bulge in the center? TTB did not limit the type of barrels by specifying the shape and size of barrels used for aging.

In another nod to innovation, distilleries now have more stylistic freedom for labeling. In the past, the front label had to contain all of the information required by TTB. Now, a distillery can put a simple bold logo on the front, for example, with the required label information on the side or back of the bottle.  This will enable greater creative flexibility in graphic design, and potentially with bottle design.

Another big plus for the industry is doubling the threshold for errors in determining the proof for spirits. Distilleries generally add water as a final finishing phase of the distillation process. This is generally done right before bottling.

TTB previously required that the amount of alcohol in the bottle - say 80 proof (which equates to 40% alcohol) - had to be within 0.15% of the amount of alcohol stated on the label.

TTB audits distilleries and tests for the accuracy of alcoholic content. If a batch of spirits was off more than 0.15%, TTB often requires that the distillery dump the entire batch, reproof the spirits and re-bottle. What a pain.

Now distilleries have twice the margin of error when proofing. We see this as a big boost for the industry, while not having any impact for consumers. Even the most polished palate probably cannot detect a difference of 0.15% in alcoholic content.

On a personal note, we are looking forward to continued innovation for vodka. Castle & Key has quickly become our favorite, shaken over ice. Previously, the definition of vodka required that the spirit be “without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color.” 

Castle & Key has complex but subtle mash notes that make cocktail hour quite delightful. We look forward to distilleries crafting more innovative vodkas for our happy hours.

For those that are having trouble sleeping during the coronavirus pandemic, here is a complete copy of the TTB rules

Federal licensing expert Rob Pinson provides a handy summary below.  Keep cocktailing.

The TTB recently released final regulations related to Alcoholic Beverage Labeling and Advertising.  Here is a quick timeline for these new final regulations:

11/28/2018 - Proposed Rule issued 4/1/2020 - Final Regulations issued 5/4/2020 - Effective date of new regulations

The final regulations address some issues currently and defers others for further consideration.  Overall, they provide greater flexibility for the industry.  There were 1,143 total comments, with over 700 of those expressing opposition to the proposed definition of a barrel as a 50-gallon cylindrical container.

Brief Summary of Changes

Doubles to +/- 0.3% the tolerance applicable to alcohol content statements on distilled spirits labels Removes the current prohibition against age statements on pretty much all classes of distilled spirits except vodka Removes prohibition on use of term “strong” and other similar indications of strength for malt beverages Removes limitation on how producers “count” the number of distillations when making “Distilled      times” claims

What TTB Is Not Changing

Definition of “oak barrel” - they are confirming different shapes and sizes are permitted Setting restrictions on cross-commodity terms, including homophones of class/type Setting restrictions on disclosing components of intermediate products or listing ingredients in order of predominance Requiring the age statement for spirits to only include the initial barrel; age can include subsequent barrels Requiring whiskey that meets more than one specific type to be labeled as such - for example, straight bourbon whiskey vs. bourbon whiskey Incorporate interaction between TTB and FDA when product is deemed “adulterated” by FDA and/or “mislabeled” by TTB

Specific Changes - All Commodities

Clarifies which products do and do not meet FAA definitions of wine, spirits or malt beverage and which labeling regime applies to them Confirms that product exported outside of US in bond does not need to meet FAA labeling requirements Personalized Labels (as opposed to private labels) Incorporates prior guidance into regulations; allows producer to submit template label and not get each private label approved Cannot discuss alcoholic beverage or characteristics of alcoholic beverage in personalized portion; remainder of label must have bare minimum Examples are provided Advertisements - modifies existing rule requiring publication of name and street address (city and state only) of industry member running an advertisement to permit websites, email or phone number in lieu of street address

Specific Changes - Wine Only

Removes citrus wine class and combines it with fruit wine (since citrus is a fruit, of course!) Allows vintage dates on wine that is imported in bulk Provides that all wine must meet standard of “natural wine”; more about cleaning up existing regulations

Specific Changes - Spirits Only

Definition of “distilled spirits” does not include products containing less than 0.5% ABV ** Will not establish definition of “oak barrel”; confirms current language allows for different shapes and sizes Clarifies requirement for statements of age and origin for imported products Will not require disclosure of intermediate ingredients on labels nor require listing of ingredients in order of predominance ** Liberalizes placement of key brand label information (brand name, class/type, alcohol content) to be on any side of bottle as long as it is in the same “field of vision”; net contents can be on any label now instead of only be allowed on front label Keeps ‘bottled in bond’ requirements with change for gin to allow paraffin-lined or unlined barrels; vodka retains paraffin-lined requirement ** Increases alcohol content tolerance from +/- 0.15%  ABV to +/- 0.30% ABV Allows age statements for all spirits except neutral spirits and vodka ** Confirms that multiple barrels can be used for “age counting” as long as initial barrel requirements are met - for example, as long as new charred oak barrel used for straight bourbon whiskey, you can age in used barrels after initial requirement and count time spent in used barrels in the age statement on the label ** Allows distilleries to count all distillations, including each plate distillation, when listing the number of times product is distilled; number may be understated but not overstated Creates new “agave spirits” class, of which tequila and mescal are a part; removes need to submit formula; at least 51% of mash must be agave and up to 49% can be sugar ** Revises vodka definition to remove the “without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color” and be distinguished by its specific production standard - no aging and limited sugar and citric acid Country of Origin - Since Customs & Border Patrol (“CBP”) already has regulations on listing the country of origin, the TTB is removing its similar requirements for distilled spirits and referring to CBP’s requirements ** Makes optional the use of a more specific type name when a class name also applies - for example, not required to use the ‘straight’ for bourbon whiskey even though it qualifies Defers creating a standard of identity for absinthe, but does remove the lab testing requirement for products made with wormwood

Specific Changes - Malt Beverages Only

Permits brewers to also add ABW information on label as long as it is together with ABV Removes restrictions on “draft” or “draught” on labels Removes restrictions on “strong”, “full strength”, “extra strength”, etc. on labels
Continue reading
  564 Hits
  0 Comments
564 Hits
0 Comments

Gov. Lee leaves Tennessee delivery and curbside alcohol in limbo

blog

SHARE THIS

Gov. Lee leaves Tennessee delivery and curbside alcohol in limbo

Apr 24, 2020

With Governor Lee’s order allowing curbside and delivery of alcohol set to expire at midnight April 30, we were expecting to see an extension of these privileges in connection with new guidelines for re-opening restaurants.

We have the guidelines, but no mention of alcohol delivery and curbside service. The governor could still extend these privileges, but so far, he has not. Governor Lee said the state is releasing additional guidelines next week. We may see language regarding alcohol delivery at that point.

At yesterday’s Tennessee ABC meeting, the ABC requested that the Governor’s Economic Recovery Group extend carryout and delivery for an additional 30 days and that the privileges be reviewed on a rolling 30-day basis. The ABC recommendation is Tennessee-wide; not just for areas that may still be experiencing local restrictions when the statewide Stay-At-Home order is lifted. 

ABC Director Russell Thomas has already conveyed the message to ERG Chair Mark Ezell. Read the message here. We applaud the Commission for being proactive and supporting this option to help keep restaurants afloat.

Tennessee Pledge Guidelines for Restaurants

Here is a summary of the guidelines for re-opening:

1. Screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms. Ask all employees:

Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19? Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat? Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours? Have you had new loss of taste or smell? Have you had vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours?

2. Temperature screen all employees on a daily basis. 

Best practice: temperatures on site with a no-touch thermometer each day upon arrival. At a minimum, employees take their own temperatures before arriving. Normal temperature should not exceed 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Any employee that answers yes to any of the screening questions or is running a fever, must leave the premises and seek medical care and/or COVID-19 testing.

4. Employees are to stay home when feeling ill, when exposed to COVID-19, or if diagnosed with COVID-19. Employees that are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 due to age or underlying conditions are encouraged to stay home

5. Implement workplace cleaning and disinfection practices, according to CDC guidelines, with regular sanitization of high-touch surfaces at least every two hours.

6. Mitigate exposure in the workplace by implementing social distancing guidelines and modify scheduling. Further is safer, per the guidelines.

6. Employees must wear masks or cloth face covering (but not N-95 or medical masks).

7. Restaurant employees must wear gloves.

8. Provide ServSafe COVID-19 training for all food handlers as soon as possible

9. Plan for potential COVID-19 cases, and work with local health department officials

when needed (e.g., monitor and trace COVID-19 cases, deep clean facilities).

10. Make employees aware of the provisions of the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which allows for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for COVID-19.

11. Update employee policies for COVID-19.  Staff should sign the policy, and the policy

should be posted.

12. Limit self-service options (customer samples, communal packaging, food/beverages, etc.)

13. Post extensive signage on health policies to educate staff and guests about COVID-19 best practices, including the attached.

Specific guidelines for restaurants.

• Limit the number of customers in the restaurant to 50% of seating capacity

• Tables should be spaced at least 6 feet apart

• Limit tables to no more than 6 guests per table

• Mark any indoor or outdoor waiting area so that social distancing standards are met

(options can include a text system to alert guests of available seating, an intercom

system, or only one member of a party being allowed to wait in the waiting area)

• Bar areas should remain closed

• Live music should not be permitted

• Screen customers for illness upon their entry into the restaurant:

            Best practice: Temperature checks for every customer.

            Minimum: Question customers regarding COVID-19 symptoms:

                        Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?

                        Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat?

                        Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?

• Place hand sanitizer stations in restaurant lobby and bathrooms, as well as cashier stations

• Sanitize all front-of-house contact surfaces including door handles, screens, phones,

pens, keyboards and other areas of hand contact every two hours, at a minimum

• Use menus that are disposable or sanitized between each use

• Use rolled silverware/napkins stored in sealed bins (gloves should be used by staff while rolling silverware in designated sanitary areas)

• Sanitize all tabletop items, including condiments, after each table turns (or use disposables)

• Sanitize chairs, especially where contact occurs, after each table turns

• Do not offer self-serve buffets, condiments on a counter for use by multiple tables, or beverage station re-use

Stay tuned for more guidelines and updates on delviery.

Continue reading
  157 Hits
  0 Comments
157 Hits
0 Comments

Mayor Cooper approves continued take-out for beer - but no word on delivery in Tennessee

blog

SHARE THIS

Mayor Cooper approves continued take-out for beer - but no word on delivery in Tennessee

Apr 23, 2020

Metro Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced a detailed plan for the staged reopening of restaurants, bars and music venues, as soon as May 1. The real question is: will anyone reopen their dining room on May 1st? You can read the entire Roadmap here.

Initial reactions do not look good if you are in the market for a sitdown meal on May 1.  We only found one restaurant planning to open its dining room on May 1, based upon inquiries we made within the first couple of hours of release of the Mayor’s Roadmap. 

A silver lining is take-out. The first three of the four phases specifically references take-out “alcohol” sales.  The order also specifically authorizes the sale of alcohol at tables.  We think that only applies to take-out beer. Use of the term alcohol is unfortunate.

The Roadmap does not mention delivery. The Metro Beer Board has authorized delivery of beer until May 31, with proper authorization from the Beer Board, but delivery is officially in limbo at the moment. 

The big question is:  Will Governor Lee extend delivery of all alcohol beyond midnight April 30, when his order authorizing alcohol delivery expires. We hear guidance may be forthcoming Friday April 24.

Not only does Gov. Lee’s power apply to the entire state, we believe that only Gov. Lee or the state legislature has the authority to be able to authorize delivery of wine, spirits and high gravity beer. Individual cities have power to regulate beer, but no authority to regulate the sale of wine and spirits at restaurants, bars and other venues.

Although the Roadmap specifically refers to the word “alcohol,” we see the Roadmap as only authorizing take-out of beer.

Beginning May 1, dining rooms at restaurants and “bars serving food from a menu” can open:

At half-capacity Physical distancing in kitchens and dining rooms Screen all employees daily for temperature and respiratory symptoms Employees with 100.4 fever or higher must leave immediately Employees with any symptoms of illness must be tested and stay at home until negative test results Create policies that make it possible for employees to isolate and quarantine Clean facilities Explicit guidelines to maintain hygiene Cloth face masks for employees, but not required for patrons Bar areas to remain closed No live music No self-service or shared condiments

Phase 3 adds these requirements, which appear to be left out of Phase 1, perhaps by oversight:

Require that restaurants clean all surfaces after single use by patron Recommend use of disposable menus

Bars, entertainment and cultural venues cannot reopen until Phase 3. “This includes museums, tours, attractions, bowling alleys, movie theaters.” At half-capacity. Live music is also permitted in Phase 3 for restaurants and bars serving food.

In order to initiate the reopening plan, the city will be required to meet the following criteria:

    •  Proof of a decline or flat cases of COVID-19 over a 14-day period

    •   Adequate testing and PPE capacity in the region

    •   A robust public health infrastructure to conduct contact tracing cases

Mayor Cooper confirmed that the decision to reopen will be data driven, as opposed to date determinative. When Nashville’s Safer at Home order expires on May 1, Metro health officials will evaluate case data and other metrics collected over the past 14 days to determine if there has been a positive, stable improvement necessary to begin Phase One of the reopening plan.

We understand that yesterday's spike in Covid cases was the result of significant increases in the amount of people tested, and that the 14 day period did not restart. We see more testing as a good thing .

Stay tuned for more news as this story develops. 

Continue reading
  174 Hits
  0 Comments
174 Hits
0 Comments

When will Tennessee's bars, restaurants be open for business? Here's our educated guess

blog

SHARE THIS

When will Tennessee's bars, restaurants be open for business? Here's our educated guess

Apr 17, 2020

This post is out of date. Look for specifics about reopening at our newer posts at Last Call. 

There has been plenty of speculation about what the new normal will be for dining out after stay-at-home orders are lifted. 

California took the lead in providing some guidance for restaurants. At a press conference on April 14, California Governor Gavin Newsom discussed what the new normal will look like for dining in a restaurant.  As Yoda might say, “Normal, it will be not.”

Precautionary measures include:

Checking customer temperatures Waiters wearing masks and gloves Reducing tables by 50% Disposable menus

Governor Newsome called these “likely scenarios” once stay-at-home orders are lifted.

The California approach may serve as a model to other states trying to navigate the transition to reopening economies.

Tennessee has yet to weigh in on the new normal for restaurants. There are ongoing questions—such as whether continued delivery of alcohol by restaurants will be permitted to continue.

Count on this: the new normal will look different from what we are all used to, and guidance is sure to change as the situation evolves.

The $64,000 Question: When Will Restaurants Open?

Recent Vanderbilt Department of Health Policy coronavirus modeling for Tennessee  and federal guidelines provide insight into the timeline and new normal for Tennessee bars and restaurants. Vanderbilt modeling includes projections for coronavirus peaks under three scenarios: additional reduction, status quo and lifting of social distancing measures.

Image title

Under the status quo scenario, projected hospitalizations in Tennessee peak mid-June.  Status quo means stay-at-home is in place at least through mid-June.

Under federal Guidelines for Opening up America Again, criteria for opening states or regions include:

a downward trajectory of symptoms and either positive tests or documented cases within a 14-day period ; and hospital treatment without crisis care and testing for at-risk workers in the healthcare industry.

Based on the Vanderbilt model, let’s presume that mid-June is June 15. Let’s also presume that the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 tracks the rate of hospitalization.

Federal guidelines require a 14-day period where the number of cases declines. Doing a little math - yes we know math is dangerous for liquor lawyers - 14 days from June 15 is June 29. 

Restaurants will not open until June 29, based on the Vanderbilt projections. All this is guesswork at this point, but June 29 is a long, long time to wait and reopen to 50 percent capacity.

The good news is that other modelling shows Tennessee’s hospitalization peak occurred April 16. We have been tracking the Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation’s metrics here. But April 30 sounds aggressive for reopening.

Guidelines for Opening up America Again

According to federal Guidelines for Opening up America Again, the reopening of restaurants will involve strict protocols for physical distancing. 

The guidelines include three phases of opening, along with suggested criteria for states or regions to meet to move into phase one initially and from each phase into the next.

The amount of social distancing is not specified and we are skeptical about sporting venues, movie theaters and places of worship reopening in Phase One.

Bars do not reopen until Phase Two under the federal guidelines. 

Guidance for restaurants and bars under each phase are highlighted below.

Phase One

Must satisfy criteria for required 14-day period. Large venues (including sit-down dining, sporting venues, movie theaters) may resume operation under “strict physical distancing protocols.” Bars remain closed.

Phase Two

Must satisfy criteria again for required 14-day period and show no evidence of rebound. Large venues operate with “moderate physical distancing protocols.” Bars may reopen, with limited occupancy.

Phase Three

Must satisfy criteria again for required 14-day period and show no evidence of rebound. Large venues operate with “limited physical distancing protocols.” Bar occupancy may increase.

These phases may be implemented statewide or by county, at Governor Lee’s discretion.

Stay tuned as we learn more about “the new normal.”

How about a little John Hiatt and Back to Normal?

I'm back to normal

(He's going over her)

I'm back to normal

(With his thermometer)

I'm back to normal

(She's getting normal)

Continue reading
  204 Hits
  0 Comments
204 Hits
0 Comments

No COVID-19 tax holiday for sales and liquor by the drink taxes

blog

SHARE THIS

No COVID-19 tax holiday for sales and liquor by the drink taxes

Apr 13, 2020

We keep hearing this question from industry members. 

“I do not have to pay sales and liquor by the drink taxes under the Governor’s executive order, do I?”

Not true. All sales and liquor by the drink taxes collected in March, April and subsequent months must be paid over to the state.  If you do not pay the taxes, expect a nastygram like this.

There is one important caveat. 

Wine, spirits and high gravity beer sold to-go or delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic are not subject to liquor by the drink taxes.  The rationale is that to-go and delivery sales are not for on-premises consumption, and therefore, should not be subject to the 15% on-premises tax. All alcoholic beverage sales to go or for delivery are subject to sales tax. 

All this talk of driving around with alcohol reminds us of Meat Loaf’s hit “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”

Well, I remember every little thing

As if it happened only yesterday

Parking by the lake and there was not another car in sight

It is possible that the state will declare a tax holiday, but at this time, make sure you are paying your sales and liquor by the drink taxes as they come due. There is personal liability for these taxes and you do not want to be personally liable.

For the record, liquor and grocery stores do not pay the 15% tax on wine and spirits. They do pay sales tax.

Continue reading
  154 Hits
  0 Comments
154 Hits
0 Comments

My bar or restaurant has closed for coronavirus. Now what?

blog

SHARE THIS

My bar or restaurant has closed for coronavirus. Now what?

Apr 2, 2020

On the heels of Gov. Bill Lee’s Safer at Home Order, we are seeing a second wave of restaurant closures. Which begs an important question: Should I let the ABC and local beer board know that my business is closed?

Although we have not seen any formal guidance from the ABC or beer boards on temporary corona closures, we do not expect any citations to issue for closed restaurants, bars, hotels and other licensed establishments.

If you are the cautious sort, you may want to upload a letter into your RLPS record documenting that your establishment is closed indefinitely. You can also mail a similar notice to your local beer board.

We have created a handy template for you to use here. The lawyer in us has to say that this is not legal advice. Facts and circumstances can differ and you may want to take a different course of action.

Safer at home during the corona closure, we have been wearing out Jack White’s killer tune “Alone in my Home.”

All alone in my home

Alone in my home

Nobody can touch me

And now, here are a few operational changes at the ABC.

Inspections.

The ABC ceased in-person inspections in the middle of March. ABC agents have the discretion to inspect by telephone, Facetime or other visual aids. We have continued to obtain licenses during the corona closure.

Late fees for Citations.

The ABC is extending the time period for paying or otherwise resolving citations without penalty from 20 days to 80 days. This is a 60-day extension of the normal 20-day period.

Late fees for renewals.

The ABC has granted a 60-day extension for renewals. We encourage restaurants and bars not to wait to until the 60th day after your renewal deadline. If you discover that you have tax issues or other problems with the renewal, you may find yourself in a situation where you are unable to renew within the 60-day extension. In these cases, the ABC has advised that they may issue citations.

Continue reading
  150 Hits
  0 Comments
150 Hits
0 Comments

How to deliver beer in Bristol, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville during the Corona closure

blog

SHARE THIS

How to deliver beer in Bristol, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville during the Corona closure

Mar 25, 2020

UPDATED: April 10, 2020

One has to ask: Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Bristol, Chattanooga and Knoxville have all adopted the Nashville model for beer delivery.

Bristol became the latest city to authorize delivery, curbside and takeout sales of beer at its April 7 City Council meeting. On-premise, breweries and on-off beer permit holders can deliver inside the Bristol City limits after first informing Lt. Walter Brown, City Beer Board Secretary, and waiting on his confirmation.

Keep in mind that the state-wide delivery order only applies to restaurants, limited service restaurants, and wine-only restaurants. The city delivery laws allow breweries, and hotels and other businesses that do not hold ABC restaurant licenses to deliver beer within city limits.

There also is no food-service requirement with beer delivery, and no restrictions on quantities.

Consistent with the Nashville model, only employees of Bristol beer permit holder can deliver -- meaning no third-party services like UberEats, Post Mates, or DoorDash. Delivery personnel must be 21 years of age or older. The City can revoke permission to deliver beer at any time, if the Bristol Police Department finds evidence they sold beer to a minor or an intoxicated person.

Knoxville adopted the Nashville beer delivery model by emergency ordinance. Attached is a copy of the ordinance

Chattanooga joined the list of cities allowing beer delivery on March 27, 2020. Mayor Andy Burke entered an executive order that essentially adopts the Nashville process. The process is explained in the order (Executive Order 2020-05.pdf).

Memphis was the second city to authorize delivery and to-go beer sales by restaurants. All businesses holding an on-premise beer permit can sell sealed containers of beer to-go, including curbside, drive-through and delivery. It looks like delivery is limited to employees. The motion is attached here. (Memphis Beer Delivery Motion 4845-1834-5144 v1.pdf)

In a spot of good news for carryout, Memphis city officials are bagging downtown meters to allow temporary parking for curbside delivery and takeout.

ORIGINAL POST

The Metropolitan Beer Permit Board of Nashville has enacted an emergency regulation allowing restaurants, hotels and most breweries to apply for a new beer permit to deliver and sell beer curbside and to-go.

Establishments with Tennessee ABC restaurant, limited service restaurant and wine-only licenses have greater privileges under Executive Order, as we explain here.

Nashville beer delivery is the only option for hotels, caterers, premier-type tourist resorts, convention centers and other ABC special license types, as well as beer-only, on-premise permit holders, such as beer bars and breweries that do not hold ABC liquor licenses.

As of posting, we have filed delivery applications for 65 restaurants, hotels and breweries.

Here’s how to exercise delivery privileges in Nashville:

1. Give notice. Before selling to go, curbside or delivering, the Regulation requires notification to the Metro Beer Board via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and providing the following information:

Name of the Permittee

Physical Address of the Permittee

E-mail Address

Phone Number

On or On/Off Premise Beer Permit Number

There is no application fee. The staff will issue a 30-day temporary “on/off” permit that allows the restaurant, hotel or brewery to immediately begin to-go, curbside and delivery of beer. Attached is a copy of the draft Regulation, which was adopted. 

You can start delivering as soon as the beer board responds. Response has been quite brisk, during business hours. The beer board will also e-mail you a new temporary on-off permit, which you should post.

2. Employees only. The emergency Regulation requires that deliveries be made by employees. No delivery of beer by UberEats or other third-party delivery services.

3. Universal carding. The Reg requires mandatory carding by the employee making the delivery, curbside or to-go sale.

4. Drive thru windows. The Reg also authorizes sale of beer at drive-thru and delivery windows.

We find ourselves humming the Talking Heads completely cryptic single:

Once in a Lifetime

Same as it ever was

Letting the days go by

Same as it ever was

Same as it ever was

Stay tuned for more updates.

Continue reading
  140 Hits
  0 Comments
140 Hits
0 Comments

Latest updates for alcohol delivery by restaurants in Tennessee

blog

SHARE THIS

Latest updates for alcohol delivery by restaurants in Tennessee

Mar 23, 2020

UPDATED: April 15, 2020

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee extended the executive order allowing drive-thru, carry-out and delivery service of beer, wine and spirits for restaurants. Executive Order 27 extended Executive Order 17. You can do “to-go” and delivery sales of beer, wine and spirits until midnight April 30. Read the original order here.

Restaurants, limited-service restaurants and wine-only restaurants can sell take-out and deliver alcoholic beverages and beer. There is no additional license or permission needed to deliver.

Restaurants can use employees or third-party delivery services such as Postmates and Uber Eats to deliver alcohol. Delivery personnel are not required to have server permit cards or any special qualifications.

Keep in mind that if you are using a third-party delivery service, your restaurant remains liable for sales to minors, intoxicated persons or the violation of any other law.  A restaurant will not be able  to avoid liability by saying the Uber driver did it. 

Since issuance of the order, restaurants and bars have sprung into action across Tennessee to start delivering alcohol with food orders.

We urge folks to keep hustling during these difficult times and check Last Call for updates. The Tennessee ABC has posted FAQs here.

Here is our summary of the rules of engagement for to-go, curbside, drive-through and delivery:

1. Alcohol must be delivered with food. At least one item of food must be sold in every order containing alcohol. The amount of food required is not specified, but given the emergency nature of this order, we encourage restaurants not to play games and count lime slices as food, for example.

Licensees are still required to be responsible. Restaurants can set rules, such as one entrée per two single-serving margaritas. You can always require that customers order a meal or set a minimum dollar amount of food for deliveries.

2. Alcohol must be packaged in a container or bottle with a secure lid or cap. We read this rule to mean that the container must be closed. Closed is not the same as sealed. For example, a lid screwed on the top of a plastic jug is closed. Alcohol does not have to be sealed, meaning you do not have to attach seals like you would find on commercial products at grocery stores.

The ABC advises restaurants to “cover containers in a reasonable manner that would require the consumer to unpackage them for consumption.” For example, we believe a styrofoam container with a lid that does not have a straw hole will work. If all your lids have straw holes, tape the straw holes.

3. Bottles and cans of beer and wine can be delivered, including regular-sized wine bottles. No bottles of spirits or liquor. The ABC has clarified that it considers a single serving to be a beverage containing no more than 16 ounces of beer, nine ounces of wine, or four ounces of spirits, and no more than 16 ounces of total liquid in the serving container. In Bristol, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville, where local beer boards have specifically authorized carry out and delivery of beer, these limitations do not apply to beer having an alcoholic content of 10.1 percent by volume. Once properly registered for delivery with your city, growlers are fine in these cities and any other city that has specifically authorized carryout and delivery of beer. Read more about beer delivery here.

4. Restaurants must post a sign with the following notice: “No driver shall consume any alcoholic beverage or beer or possess an open container of alcoholic beverage or beer while operating a motor vehicle in this state.” Although the order is not clear, we advise folks to post the sign on the wall, with your liquor license.

5. Mandatory carding for deliveries. Sales cannot be made to under 21 or intoxicated persons. 

With a third-party delivery service such as Postmates, you should ensure that delivery personnel are properly trained for carding. Some delivery services are not set up to require carding.

Drivers do not have to physically touch an identification to verify age. Because orders are most likely paid in advance, online or via phone, there is no need for drivers to risk potential contamination and make physical content with the customer.

That said, drivers need to ensure that they properly ID. We encourage Redbox carding and closer scrutiny of all Redbox IDs.

6. Drivers must be at least 21 years of age and have a valid driver’s license.

7. Carry out and delivery of alcohol are limited to current operating hours, which is not defined. We advise folks to adhere to the normal sales hours for beer and alcoholic beverages.

8. You can deliver cocktails! As long as the package has a secure lid, we read the order as allowing delivery of margaritas, cocktails and other mixed drinks.

9. Single serving packages only. Although wine by the bottle may be sold, no other multi-serving containers are allowed, under Tennessee ABC guidance here. For purposes of single servings, the ABC says no more than 16 oz. of beer, 9 oz. of wine or 4 oz. of spirits in a container with not more than 16 ounces of total liquid. If your local beer board allows you to sell low gravity beer for carry-out or delivery in greater amounts, then you may do so for purposes of low gravity beer only.  Low gravity beer is less than 8% ABW or 10.1% ABV.

No more carafes of sangria or pitchers of margarita’s to go. You can sell multiple single-serving containers with a meal, although we continue to recommend moderation under this emergency order.

Mini bottles of spirits present a conundrum. State law prohibits the sale of spirits by the bottle. However, Governor Lee’s order specifically authorizes “single servings of alcoholic beverages.”

In our humble opinion, Executive Order 17 allows a restaurant to deliver mini bottles of spirits, provided it is clear that the mini bottle is intended for a single serving. We advise folks to securely tape or otherwise attach a mini bottle of spirits to the mixer. That way, it is abundantly clear that the two items - the container and the mini bottle - are intended to be a single serving. Do not play games and toss twelve mini bottles of tequila in a bag and consider yourself in compliance with the order.

10. Curbside and drive-through. The order does not specifically address curbside and drive-through, but given the intent of the order, we believe it is OK to deliver drinks curbside and through drive-through windows.

The ABC has also clarified that although beer, wine and spirits may be sold at curbside, restaurants cannot stage multiple alcohol deliveries at tables outside the restaurant’s licensed premises. We understand that it is convenient for multiple orders to be brought out for immediate pickup at curbside. Although this is okay for food, alcohol must stay inside the restaurant until the customer or delivery service arrives for pickup.

11. Alcohol must come from the restaurant’s inventory. A restaurant cannot buy or deliver alcohol from a retail liquor store, food store or another restaurant. You must purchase your alcohol from a wholesaler.

12. The executive order only applies to establishments licensed as full-service restaurants, wine-only restaurants and limited service restaurants by the Tennessee ABC. Hotels, caterers, premier-type tourist resorts, convention centers and other special license types cannot deliver or sell alcohol to-go under the executive order.

There are special delivery rules for beer in many cities where local beer boards have established specific guidelines. Here is the process for beer delivery. 

Please note that the rules for beer-only delivery are very different from delivery under an ABC restaurant license. To make matters confusing, you can deliver beer under your restaurant liquor license. We see local beer delivery as really benefitting breweries, hotels and other license types that do not hold an ABC restaurant, limited service restaurant or wine-only restaurant license.

13. Get your beer here. Restaurants do not need permission from their local beer board to deliver under the Governor’s order. If you are a brewery that does not hold a restaurant license, or another license type that would like to deliver beer, please see our post herefor details concerning how to register with your local beer board to deliver beer. Please note that this process does not allow delivery of wine or spirits. Please note that this process does not allow delivery of wine or spirits.

14. Restaurant dining rooms are closed. You cannot pour a beer or drink while guests wait on to-go orders. Food and beverage cannot be consumed on-premises under the order.

15. Collect sales tax. Restaurants do not collect the 15% liquor by the drink tax for all wine and spirits sold to go or for delivery, including bottles and cans of beer, wine and single-serve cocktails. You do have to collect sales tax. Here is the post from Revenue. (link to attached). If you have more tax questions, see our post here.

16. Delivery applies to restaurants statewide, but we urge folks to exercise discretion and not deliver to dry towns and counties. We suspect that the Governor did not intend for delivery to areas that have not approved of liquor-by-the-drink.

17. The Order expires on April 30, 2020. Although it is possible the Governor will extend delivery privileges, the Order expires by its own terms at midnight on April 30.

Click here for the full order.

Continue reading
  149 Hits
  0 Comments
149 Hits
0 Comments

Hunker down update for Tennessee, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville and other cities

blog

SHARE THIS

Hunker down update for Tennessee, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville and other cities

Mar 22, 2020

UPDATED: April 15, 2020

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee issued a stay-at-home order, effective until midnight April 30.

This means all bars and restaurants remain closed in Tennessee, except for takeout, curbside and delivery. A copy of the order is at this link. 

Importantly, we read the order as specifically authorizing liquor stores to remain open.

In describing Food and Medicine Stores, the order includes “other establishments engaged in the retail sale of groceries, canned food, dry goods, frozen foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supplies, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, prepared food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.” This includes distilleries and breweries offering product for sale to-go and at curbside.

Hunkered down, safe at home and knowing that a cocktail is available for delivery by just calling a local restaurant finds us singing REM’s immortal hit:

It’s the end of the world as we know it

It’s the end of the world as we know it

It’s the end of the world as we know it

and I feel fine

Here is a summary of local orders, which we will update as we receive information:

Chattanooga. Mayor Andy Berke entered an executive order closing “establishments whose primary business is alcohol service or food service. … Nothing in this order shall be intended to prevent pick-up, delivery or drive-thru service.” Mayor Berke’s proclamation went into effect at midnight on March 19. Mayor Berke mandated additional steps on March 25 to limit community exposure to the virus and protect workers, but pick-up, delivery and drive-thru are still authorized.

Chattanooga suburb East Ridge issued an order closing on-site dining at food and alcohol establishments. Takeout, delivery and drive-thru can remain open.

Franklin. Mayor Ken Moore issued a Stay at Home Executive Order beginning at 12:01 a.m., March 25, and effective for seven days. All but essential business are closed. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food can be open, but only for delivery or carry out.

Knox County. March 23, the Knox County Health Department issued the Knox County Safer at Home Order, which urges all residents to shelter in place to the extent possible. The order remains in effect for 14 days, subject to extension. Although the order is not specific, there is language that allows “other businesses supporting the food supply” to be open and the order specifically allows delivery. We see this as authorizing takeout and delivery by restaurants.

Memphis. March 23, Mayor Jim Strickland issued an executive order directing all individuals living in the City of Memphis to remain in their place of residence unless engaged in essential activities, essential governmental functions, or to operate essential businesses as defined in the order. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food are open, but only for delivery or carry out. Memphis has a special beer delivery act. (https://www.wallerlaw.com/news-insights/3522/How-to-deliver-beer-in-Nashville-during-the-corona-closure) In a spot of good news for carryout, city officials are bagging downtown meters to allow temporary parking for curbside delivery and takeout.

Memphis suburbs Germantown, Bartlett, & Collierville issued stay at home orders, which authorize going to a restaurant for takeout, delivery or drive-thru.

Nashville. Chief Medical Director Dr. Michael Caldwell issued Safer at Home Order on March 22, directing residents of Nashville and Davidson County to stay inside their homes and limit all movement outside of their residence beyond what is necessary to take care of essential needs. The city previously closed dine-in service at restaurants. Take-out orders, drive-thru service, curbside pickup, and delivery service are permitted. Nashville has a special beer delivery act. (https://www.wallerlaw.com/news-insights/3522/How-to-deliver-beer-in-Nashville-during-the-corona-closure)

Sumner County.  March 23, Mayor Anthony Holt issued a Safer at Home declaration closing all non-essential businesses. Although the order is not specific, there is language that allows “other businesses supporting the food supply” to be open. We see this as authorizing takeout service by restaurants.

Tullahoma. March 23, Mayor Curlee issued a Shelter at Home order, which imposes a curfew between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., during which all persons in the City of Tullahoma shall remain home. The order closed all businesses effective at 6:00 pm on March 24, 2020, except for businesses deemed essential services. Although the order is not specific, there is language that allows “other businesses supporting the food supply” to be open. We see this as authorizing takeout service by restaurants.

Wilson County. March 25, Mayor Randall Hutto issued a letter to residents declaring a State of Emergency. Residents should not eat or drink onsite at restaurants or bars, which should not be open except for drive-through, pickup, carry-out or delivery service for food and drink. Lebanon and Mt. Juliet had already declared states of emergency with similar restrictions.

Continue reading
  153 Hits
  0 Comments
153 Hits
0 Comments

Tennessee distilleries do their part for hand sanitizer shortage

blog

SHARE THIS

Tennessee distilleries do their part for hand sanitizer shortage

Mar 21, 2020

The Tennessee Distiller’s Guild is featuring 15 distilleries that are producing hand sanitizer.  At the proper strength, drinking alcohol makes a terrific sanitizer. 

Some of the distilleries have been donating sanitizer to worthy causes, a particularly admirable deed during this time of shortage.  Others have product for sale at the distillery and retail outlets. 

The Tennessean has good coverage.

Here's a list of Tennessee Guild Distillery members turning hooch into hand sanitizer: 

Big Machine Distillery, Lynnville and Nashville

Chattanooga Whiskey, Chattanooga

Corsair Distillery, Nashville

Doc Collier Moonshine, Gatlinburg

Gate 11 Distillery, Chattanooga

Jack Daniels, Lynchburg

Lost State Distilling, Bristol

Nashville Craft Distillery, Nashville

Nelson’s Greenbrier, Nashville

Old Dominick Distillery, Memphis

Old Forge Distillery, Pigeon Forge

Old Glory Distilling Co., Clarksville

Picker’s Vodka, Nashville

Sugarlands Distilling Co., Gatlinburg

Tennessee Legend Distillery, Nashville, Newport and Sevierville

If you visit a local distillery, make sure you support the industry and pick up a nice supply of craft spirits for your bar.  Cheers.

Continue reading
  140 Hits
  0 Comments
140 Hits
0 Comments

Tennessee Governor orders bars, restaurants closed except for delivery, takeout

blog

SHARE THIS

Tennessee Governor orders bars, restaurants closed except for delivery, takeout

Mar 20, 2020

UPDATED: April 15, 2020

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has ordered all bars and restaurants closed in Tennessee except for takeout and delivery. The order will remain in effect through April 30.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created both an economic and a health crisis and our response must continue to address both aspects,” Lee said in a statement. “Our goal is to keep the public, especially vulnerable populations, safe while doing everything possible to keep Tennesseans in a financially stable position.” 

Original post:

The Metropolitan Beer Permit Board of Nashville has enacted an emergency regulation allowing restaurants, hotels and most breweries can now apply for a new beer permit to deliver and sell beer curbside and “to go.” 

As of posting, we have filed delivery applications for 59 restaurants, hotels and breweries, and many have already been issued permits.

Meanwhile, earlier today, Metro Nashville Chief Medical Director Dr. Michael Caldwell closed dine-in service at restaurants. Take-out orders, drive-thru service, curbside pickup, and delivery service are permitted.

In addition, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke entered an executive order closing “establishments whose primary business is alcohol service or food service. … Nothing in this order shall be intended to prevent pick-up, delivery or drive-thru service.” Mayor Berke’s proclamation went into effect at midnight on March 19.

Finally, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland declared a civil emergency and ordered all restaurants to close their dining rooms and offer takeout or delivery service only. Bars are closed. In a spot of good news for carryout, city officials are bagging downtown meters to allow temporary parking for curbside delivery and takeout.

The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission held a special meeting at 2 p.m. today. Although there was discussion about wine and spirits delivery by restaurants, hotels and bars, Director Russell Thomas believes that delivery will require an action by the governor. 

To date, Nashville is the only city that we have seen take steps to authorize delivery and to-go beer sales by restaurants.

How to deliver beer in Nashville

Before selling to go, curbside or delivering, the Regulation requires notification to the Metro Beer Board via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and providing the following information:

Name of the Permittee Physical Address of the Permittee E-mail Address Phone Number On or On/Off Premise Beer Permit Number

There is no application fee. The staff will issue a 30-day temporary “on/off” permit that allows the restaurant, hotel or brewery to immediately begin to-go, curbside and delivery of beer. Attached is a copy of the draft Regulation, which we understand was just adopted. READ:  Beer Board Delivery Regulation

The emergency regulation requires that deliveries be made by employees. No delivery of beer by UberEats or other third-party delivery services.

The Reg requires mandatory carding by the employee making the delivery, curbside or to-go sale.

The Reg also authorizes sale of beer at drive-thru and delivery windows.

We find ourselves humming the Talking Heads completely cryptic single:

Once in a Lifetime

Same as it ever was

Letting the days go by

Same as it ever was

Stay tuned for more updates.

Continue reading
  157 Hits
  0 Comments
157 Hits
0 Comments

No hospitality industry tax holiday in Tennessee

blog

SHARE THIS

No hospitality industry tax holiday in Tennessee

Mar 18, 2020

With the hospitality industry devastated from the coronavirus, we keep hearing the same refrain from restaurant, bar, hotel and venue owners:

Do I have to pay my LBD and sales tax this month?

Unless the State of Tennessee provides tax relief for sales and liquor-by-the-drink taxes, our response is yes.  You have to pay your taxes.

Sales tax comes due on the 20th of the month.  Liquor-by-the-drink tax was due on the 15th. 

We believe the state missed a tremendous opportunity to help the hospitality industry weather the corona crisis.

There is personal liability for failing to pay these taxes.  We do not want to see anyone become personally liable for taxes, particularly during pressing financial times.

Keep in mind that a business is collecting sales and liquor by the drink taxes for the state.  The state views the tax collections as the state’s money.  If you divert tax collections to pay other bills, such as staff, food supplies or rent, you have essentially stolen from the state.  The law is stacked in favor of the state on this point. 

We hear the Mississippi Sheiks classic 1934 recording of Sales Tax Blues:

Say Walter, we need some cigarettes. Let's go in and get a pack.

Okay!

Hello boys, what can I do for you?

I'll have a pack of cigarettes.

Alright. Here you are. Be three cents more though.

What's that for?

Sales tax. Haven't you ever heard of sales tax?

Sure haven't.

Continue reading
  146 Hits
  0 Comments
146 Hits
0 Comments

Coronavirus interrupts beer board licensing in Tennessee

blog

SHARE THIS

Coronavirus interrupts beer board licensing in Tennessee

Mar 16, 2020

It is official.  The coronavirus is slowing down the sale of beer, or at least the issuance of beer permits.  We are going to keep a running list of closures at Last Call.  If you know of any that are not on our list, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

Memphis Beer Board                        
March 18 (CANCELED)

Meetings scheduled to resume April 1

Nashville Beer Board                        
March 25 (CANCELED)

Meetings scheduled to resume April 9

Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Comissions

Director Russell Thomas says it should be business as normal at the Tennessee ABC.  Staff will be working remotely with laptops and there will be minimal in-office presence. 

Instead of canceling the March 31 meeting, the Director expects that the meeting will proceed telephonically or via other technology. The ABC is holding a special meeting later this week to approve of a new location for Nashville wholesaler Best Brands, which was destroyed in the tornado.

Kudos to my keeper Randi for this Semisonic hit lyric:

Closing time

One last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer.

Closing time

You don't have to go home but you can't stay here.

Tennessee state courts have suspended all in court proceedings, except emergencies.  The Tennessee Supreme Court has also extended some deadlines.  Read more here

Here is Nashville Mayor Cooper’s announcement from Friday the 13th.  I think the irony of the date might have been lost.

All Boards & Commission Chairs and Members:

I am hereby requesting that the chairs and members of all Boards and Commissions of the Metropolitan Government postpone all pending public meetings scheduled through April 6, 2020, subject to requirements of the Metropolitan Charter and Code of Laws.

Upon consultation with the Metro Public Health Department, and consistent with emerging recommendations from the Center for Disease Control, the Tennessee Department of Health, and the White House Task Force on Coronavirus, this request is submitted to deter further spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus as well as to ensure consistency and finality for the public's scheduling purposes.

To the extent possible, board and commission agenda items should be deferred and placed upon the agenda of subsequent meetings scheduled after April 1. Additionally, every effort should be made to provide sufficient notice of postponement to members of the public, especially anticipated attendees, and to otherwise alleviate the resulting delays in the administrative process.

My office and the Metro Public Health Department are continuing to close monitor this evolving situation. We are also collaborating with the Metropolitian IT Services Department to format future public meetings in a manner that protects the health and safety of all attendees, using remote participation tools such as video web conferencing, teleconferencing, and other services.

I recognize the significant inconvenience cancellation and postponement of these meetings will cause. But our first priority is of course the safety of our citizens and residents; so I am deeply grateful for your cooperation and understanding. I think you for your support and patience.

Sincerely,

John Cooper

Mayor of Metropolitan Government of Nashville

Continue reading
  160 Hits
  0 Comments
160 Hits
0 Comments

How to support your local watering hole in Nashville

blog

SHARE THIS

How to support your local watering hole in Nashville

Mar 16, 2020

UPDATE: On Friday morning, Nashville health officials halted dine-in service at restaurants. Take-out orders, drive-thru service, curbside pickup, and delivery service are permitted. Here's an update.

Mayor Cooper‘s announcement that he was closing bars in Nashville as a result of the coronavirus epidemic quickly went viral among locals.

We have been hearing the same question from tons of bar owners: What do we do?

We recommend that you serve food and provide a safe environment for your customers.  If you have a decent food menu and loyal customers, become a restaurant in this time of need.

As Mayor Cooper said in his statement closing bars: “We are encouraging restaurants to remain open as both a measure of social wellbeing and because of their important role in helping to feed our community.”

No one has said you have to stop serving alcohol, you just need to sell 50 percent food to be open.

Loyal customers, take a break, run to your local watering hole and order up some grub with that cocktail. It may do your mental health some good, and Nashville’s hospitality industry -- bartenders, servers, cooks and business owners - could use your support.

All this buzz on social media makes us pine for the days of Marvin Gaye:

It took me by surprise I must say

When I found out yesterday

Don't you know that I heard it through the grapevine

Many folks have asked whether the city has the legal authority to take drastic action to close businesses. 

Although we have not done extensive research, we believe the city does have the authority.  For example, the Metro Health Department has the authority to close an unsafe food establishment. This is a routine power and does not require a state of emergency.

There is precedent for our thoughts about focusing on food service and serving the public need.

A court in Nashville found that Tennessee law is too vague to enforce a ban on guns in bars. Chancellor Bonnyman ruled that the distinction between restaurants and bars was unconstitutionally vague on November 6, 2009.

Make sure you understand and follow the rules: 

limit maximum seating to under 50 percent of your capacity no more than 100 individuals, regardless of your capacity no standing at bars bars should be limited to 50 percent of the bar area seating space out of tables for customers - think social distancing

Click here for Mayor Cooper’s statement and the Health Department order

There may be a silver lining from the Mayoral and Health Department's actions. Insurance typically does not cover losses from illness, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. With the state of emergency and specific closure order from the government, your losses may become insured. 

We encourage you to check with your insurance agent and hope to have more information on this front soon.

Stay tuned, serve lots of meals and be well.

Continue reading
  156 Hits
  0 Comments
156 Hits
0 Comments

New version of RLPS goes live in Tennessee

blog

SHARE THIS

New version of RLPS goes live in Tennessee

Feb 3, 2020

Image title

The Tennessee ABC unveiled its new version of the Regulatory Licensing and Permitting System, known as RLPS, on Monday, February 3.

ABC IT Director Chris Dowell explains:  “We put a lot of effort into improving our customers’ experience.”  For example, RLPS now shows what you can do on the site, as opposed to requiring users to first log in and then navigate menus.  Users can now select what they want to do from the icons on the home page.  

Assistant Director Tabatha Blackwell is “excited that RLPS is much easier for servers,” who files tens of thousands of applications.  Applying for a server permit is now the first icon among the services available in RLPS.  

Licensing professionals will be pleased to discover that finding and printing a license has been reduced from a few minutes to a few seconds.  Users no longer have to go into the file and navigate the relatively complex process to find and print licenses.  There is an icon on the home page: Print My License.

Licensing professionals will also be able to navigate quicker to renewals or pending applications by selecting the appropriate icon.

All this interface talk leaves us humming Shania Twain’s hit “She’s Not Just A Pretty Face.”

She’s Not Just a Pretty Face

She’s got everything it takes.

She’s mother of the human race

She’s not just a pretty face

RLPS is now optimized to be faster and more responsive to both licensing professionals and the ABC staff.  Back office functions – what the ABC uses to process your applications – are much faster, which should lead to faster processing for applications.

Among other improvements, the back office workflow is more visual.  The system is easier for Licensing/Permitting Specialists to tell when ABC inspections are scheduled, for example.

RLPS now includes a new payment portal for citations.  

Thanks to ABC Business Analyst Tamsyn Smith, who worked much of the weekend to make sure the new system was up and running Monday morning.

Continue reading
  140 Hits
  0 Comments
140 Hits
0 Comments

Wet your whistle while you work

Last-Call---your-source-for-Tennessee-liquor-news Last Call - Your Source for Tennessee Liquor

Here’s an often-heard question with a surprising answer.  Can I drink while working as a bartender, server or clerk at a liquor store? 

To the chagrin of the champions of temperance, Tennessee does not prohibit the consumption of alcoholic beverages by employees working at on-premise license locations, such as restaurants, bars, hotels, nightclubs, stadiums and other establishments. In addition, clerks, managers and other employees can drink tastings offered to consumers at retail liquor stores.

On this particular question, we find ourselves on the side of temperance. It is a bad idea to allow employees to drink on the job, particularly when they are servicing and selling alcohol. For liability reasons, we encourage employers to establish rules that prohibit drinking on the job. 

That said, drinking on the job is legal at bars and restaurants, with the following caveats:

B-Girl Rule.  Tennessee prohibits customers from buying drinks for servers and other on-premise employees. Minors.  The drinking age is 21 and employees under the age of 21 cannot drink. Intoxication.  It is illegal to serve a visibly intoxicated person, meaning that a bartender cannot get visibly drunk on the job.

To the collective chagrin of hundreds of loyal Last Call followers, we find ourselves singing the oh-so merry melody sung by Disney’s diminutive cartoon chaps:

Just whistle while you work

And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place.

So hum a merry tune.

It won’t take long when there’s a song to help you set the pace. 

Now we all need a drink…

Continue reading
  456 Hits
  0 Comments
456 Hits
0 Comments

Who do I have to card when selling alcohol in Tennessee?

Last-Call---your-source-for-Tennessee-liquor-news Last Call - Your Source for Tennessee Liquor

Unless you are living under a rock, you know you need a new driver’s license – a REAL ID – in order to clear TSA Security at airports and to enter secured federal facilities, such as military bases. The fear of flying, or more accurately, the fear of not being able to fly, has inspired action among REAL ID applicants and generated long lines at Tennessee driver’s license centers. The deadline for having a REAL ID is October 1, 2020.

With all the hoopla surrounding REAL ID, we have to ask:  Do I need a REAL ID in order to purchase alcohol in Tennessee?

So far, the answer is no. We believe the Tennessee ABC will continue to allow restaurants, bars, grocery stores and other license holders to accept valid Tennessee Driver’s licenses – regardless of whether they are REAL ID.

Of course, individual beer boards and local police may see things differently; however, nothing in the carding laws requires a REAL ID.

All this talk over REAL ID raises a perennial question: Who has to card everyone? Drum roll, please. 

Beer – off-premises (C stores, groceries, pharmacies) - Yes, card everyone Beer – on-premises (beer bars) - No, carding is discretionary Wine and spirits off-premises (liquor stores) – Yes, card everyone beginning July 1, 2014 Wine stores (groceries) – Yes, card everyone beginning July 1, 2016 Wine and spirits on-premises (restaurants, bars) – No, carding is discretionary

Burned out on Christmas carols, we are cranking Rihanna's "Cheers (Drink to That)"

There's a party at the bar

Everybody put ya glasses up and I drink to that

I drink to that

We have often opined that universal carding is an utter waste of time – why spend any time looking at the ID of a silver-haired elderly gentleman when you should be focusing on ID’s of college-age kids?

However, given the significant number of servers and clerks that fail beer board and ABC stings by not even asking for an ID, we believe universal carding works. Universal carding takes the discretion out of the hands of the server and requires staff to card everyone.

Restaurants, bars and other on-premise establishments do not have to card – but we strongly encourage folks to require universal carding.

The Metro Nashville Beer Board has publicly indicated that it has increased stings, as we blogged about here. Likewise, the Tennessee ABC is expected to continue to focus on age ID stings. Your license is at risk.

Continue reading
  391 Hits
  0 Comments
391 Hits
0 Comments