D.C. restaurants, bars urge District to expand outdoor food and drink sales

More states have eased state liquor laws to allow restaurants to serve alcohol to-go with food

Serving food and drinks al fresco could be key to keeping struggling Washington bars and restaurants afloat.

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Business owners financially crippled by the coronavirus pandemic are urging city leaders to allow them to serve in additional outdoor spaces by closing some streets so that restaurants can serve customers while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

People walk past a restaurant with “We Are Open” on its windows during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst). 

“What we’re petitioning for is here on Connecticut Avenue in some sort of way to shut down traffic on the southbound lane and be able to have some seating to coincide with what we have on the inside," Michael Waters, owner of Across the Pond bar, told FOX Business. 'We're just asking for it to be shut down on the weekend,"

BARS, RESTAURANTS WANT CORONAVIRUS INSPIRED ALCOHOL DELIVERY TO BE PERMANENT 

States can make their own rules about how alcohol is served and consumed. And in addition to Washington, many states like New York, California, Chicago and New Jersey have made temporary rules that make it easier for consumers to get booze. Some have allowed restaurants to deliver drinks with food or sell bottles of wine on-premises for pick up with meals.

Washington allows eaters to order alcoholic beverages to go, but giving a restaurant more space to sell beverages could bring added revenue to businesses playing catchup for lost dining room sales. And allowing for food and drink to be purchased and enjoyed outside rather than in could also limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, which is more easily spread in confined spaces, research suggests.

REMOTE WORK LEADS TO DRINKING ON THE JOB

Earlier this week, Barred in DC, a Washington bar blog, wrote an open letter to District leaders asking them to help create outdoor space, which garnered reactions from Washington-based chefs like Jose Andres, who tweeted: "This has been on the recommendation list to Mayor Bowser from day one, including closing some streets.”

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