Restaurants may be unable to serve you in their dining rooms due to the coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, but you can still get that beer or wine you would have ordered at a table with your takeout.
During the pandemic, New Jersey restaurants are seeing an uptick in the number of alcoholic beverages they sell to go or, depending on that restaurant’s license, by delivery. The beverages must be sold in their original packaging.
Sweet Waters Steak House in Westfield is one of the restaurants that has been offering alcohol as a choice with curbside pickup. It even has a wine and beer list labeled “emergency provisions” on its website.
“So far, we’re doing good,” said Kenny Dolan, manager at Sweet Waters. “We’re not making as much money as we would if we were open [for dining] but people are getting food to go. People need to eat.”
The Cloverleaf Tavern in Caldwell so far has had a great turnout of people coming to pick up both food and alcohol orders, manger Ashlie Arthur said.
Inside, a few tables are set up where beer is being sold in its original containers to go — no glasses to drink on premises. Only a few customers are allowed in at a time.
“Business is nothing like it usually is, but we’ve been able to make it worthwhile,” Arthur said. “We’re really grateful to have a guest following and strong community support.”
Restaurants that don’t have a liquor license but have partnership with a winery are also selling wine with their food orders.
“We have seen a drastic increase in selling bottles of wine to go. We rarely ever sold them to go,” said Shawn Leahey, managing partner at Holy Tomato in Blackwood.
Known for its specialty pizzas, Holy Tomato has a partnership with New Jersey winery Auburn Road Vineyard. On a recent day, Leahey said Holy Tomato sold 11 bottles of wine to go.
“That doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is,” Leahey said. “Usually we only sell them for dine-in.”
Holy Tomato is one of the 15 restaurants that has a partnership with Auburn Road.
“It’s been a godsend,” said Scott Donnini, owner of Auburn Road and president of the Garden State Winegrowers Association. “This has allowed us the opportunity to still bring in some revenue and gives us the hope that if this goes longer than a couple of weeks, we can still potentially make a go of it.”
Anne Ventimiglia, co-owner of Ventimiglia Vineyard in Wantage, is hoping for a similar outcome. She sent a letter to the outlets she works with and is optimistic that some will sell her wine during the pandemic, but realizes times are tough.
“Restaurants are grappling with a lot of things,” Ventimiglia said. “I think at this point they are just dealing with trying to shore up their business.”
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