Business · Food

Restaurants can keep serving alcohol to-go as in-person dining resumes

This past week, Central Valley diners celebrated the return of in-person dining after the California Department of Public Health approved the expedited reopening of several Valley counties.

Since California Gov. Gavin Newsom instituted the state’s shelter-in-place order in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic, restaurants have been closed to in-person dining, only operating with take-out and deliveries. 

The move prompted California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control temporarily changed its rules to give restaurants some relief, including allowing restaurants to serve cocktails and other alcoholic beverages with to-go orders, as long as they were in a sealed container and served with a food order. 

Even though restaurants in six of seven Valley counties now have the green light to reopen, they will still be allowed to serve booze to-go.

Jason Montgomery, the supervising agent at the Fresno ABC office, told The Sun that the same to-go rules still apply as restaurants reopen. 

Montgomery said he expects the regulatory relief to end eventually, but he has received no indication from the ABC Director’s Office that those rules will change as restaurants begin the process of reopening in a limited capacity. 

The state is also allowing restaurants to temporarily expand their footprint to adjacent outdoor areas that are not currently licensed for food-service – such as sidewalks, parking lots and streets – in order to allow for proper social distancing. 

Along with restaurants setting up temporary seating outdoors, the ABC is permitting restaurants to serve alcoholic beverages to those patrons who sit outdoors. 

In order to set up shop outdoors, restaurants have to submit a COVID-19 Temporary Catering Authorization Application to the ABC, pay a $100 fee and submit a diagram of the outdoor space. 

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.