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Beacon Hill urged to budge on cocktails to go

Jack's Abby craft brewery employee Sumner Sherring carries an order to a customer in a line of cars waiting curbside in Framingham on May 8.Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

State Senate ought to do its part to give hospitality industry a boost

Your July 3 editorial calling on the state Senate to pass legislation permitting the sale of cocktails to go was right on the mark (“Cocktails to go? Not in Massachusetts”).

Massachusetts’ convention business has taken a serious hit due to the pandemic, which has had a severe impact on the Commonwealth’s hospitality industry. Cocktails to go would give restaurants and bars a much-needed economic boost to help them sustain their businesses and employees during this challenging time.

Importantly, the bill also includes responsible service provisions that require the use of sealed containers and the placement of drinks in the trunk or non-passenger compartment of a vehicle.


As a representative of the spirits industry, I have seen firsthand the consumer and business benefits of cocktails to go in state after state where this economic relief measure has been passed. These states clearly understand the importance of getting their hospitality industries back up and running. It’s time for Massachusetts to do the same.

John McDonnell


Massachusetts Convention Center Authority


Independent restaurants are in a fight to survive

The lobbying by the Massachusetts Package Stores Association to stop struggling restaurants from selling cocktails to go showcased everything people can’t stand about Beacon Hill (“Package stores, restaurants at odds on expanding liquor sales,” Business, July 4). Independent restaurants are in a fight for survival. After months of closure or takeout only, many are shutting down for good. Outdoor dining is falling well short of meeting expenses, even for the best situated. Cocktails to go are not a solution in and of themselves, but they will help some restaurants turn enough extra revenue to hang on.

It was so dismaying to read that a well-funded lobbying group for liquor stores, largely unaffected by COVID-19, is blocking a bill in the Legislature that could help us. Independent retailers and restaurants are mainstays of our communities, and we should be working together to get through this crisis. The Massachusetts Senate should immediately follow the House’s lead and vote to support our restaurants, joining 30 other states that allow liquor sales to go.


We hope that clearing this hurdle will allow state and local leaders to focus on even bigger issues facing our industry, particularly the need for rent relief. Our coalition is fighting for state and local incentives for landlords to provide rent relief to struggling businesses such as ours. In the meantime, cocktails certainly can’t fix everything, but as our customers know, they’re a good start.

Tony Maws

Chef and owner

Craigie on Main


The writer is a founder of Massachusetts Restaurants United, a grass-roots coalition of independent restaurants that formed during the pandemic.