Restaurant owners applaud alcohol and delivery rule changes

·3 min read

MORRISBURG – The owners of a Morrisburg-based restaurant are applauding recently announced changes to alcohol sales with take-out and delivery orders.

The Ontario government announced December 9th that it will permanently allow businesses to continue alcohol sales for take-out and delivery orders. The measure started this spring to help businesses that were forced to close the dine-in portion of restaurants to keep going.

“I like this,” said Will Tibben, who owns Cat House Gregors with his wife Jacky Jantarawong. “It allows us the opportunity to be able to expand that part of our business.”

He said that the restaurant has been offering take-out and delivery sales of alcohol with food orders since it was first available in the spring.

“We haven’t had an opportunity to make much of it,” Tibben said. “We’ve sold some beer and wine with orders, but not a lot.”

He said that they had not put a lot of effort into it because it was a temporary measure at the time.

“It’s nice to know that we have another avenue to gain revenue at the restaurant,” Tibben explained. “Everything adds a little bit of revenue – alcohol sales, food sales, the patio when it was open. This just adds another dynamic to the business.”

When outside alcohol sales by restaurants was first allowed this spring, the Thai-Canadian fusion restaurant tried to support products that were either tied to the cuisine, or were local. This included offering bottles of wine from Morrisburg vineyard Stone Crop Acres, and growlers of beer from Ingleside-based Humble Beginnings Brewery.

Tibben said it was really important to have a local connection, and it has helped with the take-out sales.

“The relationship building is fantastic, and if the product is good, we love to support it. A lot of the community feel the same way and that has helped us with sales.”

In addition to permanently expanding alcohol sales for restaurants, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario will permit alcohol manufacturers like microbreweries to deliver its own products and charge a delivery fee for the service.

Restaurants and bars will be able to offer mixed cocktails to go as part of an order, and eligible manufacturers will be able to sell spirits and 100 per cent Ontario wines at farmers markets. Food box and meal kit companies will also be allowed to deliver alcoholic drinks with their products.

The province is lowering minimum prices for on-site sales in licenced businesses, allowing alcohol service will be allowed on docked boats by licenced operators, and temporary patio extension permits will he allowed for a longer amount of time.

“Ontario’s vibrant hospitality sector and its workers have been hit hard by COVID-19 in every community across our province,” said Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey in a release. “We’re building on the actions we took early in the pandemic to support local restaurants, bars, and other businesses by providing permanent help to workers and small businesses as they face these ongoing challenges.”

According to the government release, the changes go into effect immediately.

Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader