Carry-Out Booze May Carry On

A version of this article appeared on 1/26/21 in Back of House News, a free weekly newsletter from Back of House with news, resources, and more curated by our team. It goes out to thousands of restaurant operators each Tuesday morning. Subscribe today to get our coverage of the restaurant technology space directly to your inbox!


The Industry Appetizer

A quick snack on some headlines that caught our editors' eyes this week.

  • Biden calls for restaurant guidance: The newest (and oldest) president instructed the Centers for Disease Control and the Occupational Hazard and Safety Administration to guide restaurants on best practices for keeping dining rooms and outdoor dining safe. The move was part of the new administration's 200-page pandemic response strategy, and aims to create useful guidelines for businesses, including restaurants, that must weigh risks of remaining open during the pandemic. “Social distancing is not a light switch," a White House summary of the move stated. "It is a dial." (Nation's Restaurant News / The White House)

  • Cuomo proposes a lifeline to restaurants: In his budget proposal the governor of New York includes $50 million worth of tax credits "to support restaurants hard hit by the pandemic through 2021," a real measure of relief for the 250,000+ people who were working in New York City's now-battered restaurants before the pandemic hit. Details are still sparse, but the governor's budget director says if the budget passes, hard-hit restaurants that cut staff could expect $5,000 tax credits per worker they re-hire. (Restaurant Dive / New York Upstate)

  • Carry-out booze may carry on: The widespread experiments in letting people carry out hard drinks could become a rare welcome legacy of the pandemic. Right now 30 states and the District of Columbia allow cocktails-to-go programs, a vital boost for the industry in the past year. Iowa and Ohio have already made those programs permanent, and 13 more states (and counting) are considering bills to follow suit. Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Virginia may soon be raising their glasses to-go. (Restaurant Business)

Tech Talk

The restaurant software, hardware, and solutions stories we've been chewing on lately.

  • CA, TX, NY look to cap delivery fees: Bills in three of the country's largest states could limit what delivery platforms can charge. Many cities, as well as Washington and Oregon, have capped the fees that Uber Eats, Grubhub, Doordash, and their competitors may charge for making a delivery. Legislation being considered in California (proposed 15% delivery fee cap), Texas (proposed 20% cap), and New York (proposed 20% cap) would greatly expand those regulations, which a proponent says are necessary because the pandemic "further empowered these billion-dollar [third-party delivery services], while restaurants and so many small businesses struggle.” (Restaurant Business)

  • Postmates ups CA prices, loses execs: The Uber-owned delivery firm announced last week it would tack on as much as $2.50 per order just weeks after saying prices wouldn't rise in the wake of California's Prop. 22 passing. Gig-economy Silicon Valley companies spent $218 million supporting the measure, promising along the way that fees would rise if the proposition didn't create a new classification of independent contractors. But CA voters passed Prop. 22 in November, and fees are going up anyway. Postmates, which saw the exit of most of its executive team in an Uber-led layoff of 180 staffers late last week, says the fees help pay for drivers' wages and insurance. (Eater San Francisco / Forbes / New York Times)

  • Las Vegas allows for drink delivery on apps: You can't dial up an Old Fashioned for the craps table, alas. But outside of casinos, the Vegas city council says, you can now order restaurant delivery alcohol over 3PD services. The measure gives restaurants a chance to recoup some of the revenue they've lost since Nevada capped restaurant and bar occupancy at 25% during the pandemic. (Eater Las Vegas)

Pantry Staples

Resources for restaurant operators, created and curated by our team. 

  • How to crank up the heat: There's no bad weather, only bad clothes, right? Wrong, it's January, the weather's terrible, invest in some heaters to make your outdoor diners feel snug. Here's how to shop for the best one for you. (Back of House)

  • See the light on UVC: Some restaurants are adopting UVC light as a way to sanitize surfaces and kill airborne germs. Here are the basics on UVC light you might want to know. (Back of House)

  • Going ghost: Wondering about how to set up a ghost kitchen? We've got the rundown, right here. (Back of House)

[Photo by Chris F from Pexels]