NYC Business Toasts on News of Judge Nixing Sugary Drink Ban

On Monday, a New York state judge struck down the sugary drink ban championed by Mayor Bloomberg, citing loopholes in the proposed agenda. According to the ruling, the city Board of Health had overstepped its authority when it approved the rule. The Twitter account for the mayor’s office (@NYCMayorsOffice) announced that Mayor Bloomberg intends to appeal the ruling, writing that they “are confident the measure will ultimately be upheld.” The mayor’s office later tweeted, “We believe @nycHealthy has the legal authority and responsibility to tackle causes of the obesity epidemic, which kills 5,000 NYers a year.” The ruling comes as happier news to some New York City businesses serving soft drinks in cups larger than 16 fluid ounces. Russell Levinson, manager of the MovieWorld theater in Queens, says, “It’s a big relief and a big weight off of our shoulders. It would have been a lot of work – a lot of complicated pricing and menu changes.” Levinson says the ban would have dramatically changed the offerings – and profits -- at MovieWorld. “All of our sizes except for the kids’ cups were over the limit, so about 95% of our beverage sales. We would have had lower profits because of the size changes, because we would have gone from 44, 33 and 22 ounces down to 16 and 12 ounces only,” he says. Some businesses had already started preparing for the ban. Anton Nataj, a manager at Famous Famiglia Pizzeria on the Upper West Side, says that the international chain had switched to serving 16-ounce cups months earlier. The chain had been serving 22- and 32-ounce soft drinks. “We do free refills, so the customer is allowed to keep refilling,” says Nataj. When asked whether the switch had affected the restaurant’s profits, Nataj says that it is too soon to definitively tell. He says, “Saleswise, every little bit counts, but since it hasn’t been too long of a period, we haven’t analyzed it enough.” Levinson says that if the ban is instated, MovieWorld will take advantage of the 90-day grace period. “We’ll use it to come up with ideas, test some things, notify customers and maybe try some new products. Certainly, we’ll try to go through our existing stock of large cups.”