By Kendall McGee | December 23, 2020 at 6:02 PM EST – Updated December 23 at 7:26 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – It’s been nine months since Governor Roy Cooper closed bars across the state to lessen the spread of the coronavirus.
“Things are not going great, everybody knows that…in any way shape or form. We’ve lost a tremendous amount of income and business,” said Louis Rodriguez of Pinpoint. “If this is the pace…this is the pace. We have to make sure that our staff and our guests and everyone stays healthy as well as putting bread on our own table.”
Pinpoint is just one of thousands of bars and restaurants across the state that fall under Governor Cooper’s newest order, allowing businesses to sell mixed drinks to-go. The idea was to give struggling bar and restaurant owners a bit of a financial boost, by allowing them to serve one cocktail to each customer in a sealed container to consume at home.
Dane Scalise, board chair of Wilmington Downtown Inc., says that the principle of the idea is good, but worries one drink per person is just too little, too late for the city’s bars.
”I’m in support of the idea of this executive order allowing for mixed drinks to be sold and delivered to folks. It is a good practice that lots of other states do, but if it’s supposed to replace normal operations for bars and restaurants, then I’m not in support of it…it’s a half measure, it’s a quarter measure that doesn’t go nearly as far as these folks that have their livelihoods, their businesses at risk, need,” said Scalise.
Since the announcement Monday, owners have been researching how to seal cups, minimize liabilities, and stay in line with open container laws.
Scalise says the city’s bar owners are making it work for as long as they can, but believes if we don’t see a return to normal soon, many wont be able to just swallow their losses. Downtown has already seen bars like Tails and restaurants like Dock Street Oyster Bar and The Foxes Boxes close their doors in the wake of the pandemic.
“In my conversations with bar owners and the restaurant owners, they would rather see a return to normalcy as soon as possible, in terms of their operations, so they can get their employees back to work and they can continue to make money the way they have traditionally made money, and if they don’t, I’m telling you there’s plenty of bar owners and restaurant owners that are going to go out of business,” said Scalise.
Dior’s bar manager, Doc Thomas, is staying optimistic but is eager to get through the next several weeks.
“It may not be the Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve that we all are accustomed to but let’s bust this out and get it over with because we’re ready to get back to business and serving these folks some good drinks,” said Thomas.
On Wednesday, a memo from the NC Sheriff’s Association was sent out to law enforcement across the state alleging the governor didn’t have the authority to allow to-go mixed drinks.
The governor’s office though, disagrees. The order went into effect Monday and runs through Jan 31.
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