MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It’s well known that many restaurants are struggling financially, dealing with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One group is asking for the sale of to-go drinks to become a permanent fixture in Tennessee to help local restaurants recover.
The online campaign to change state law and allow to go drinks for good in Tennessee was started by a Memphian and so far thousands of people have shown support for the cause.
Jake Smith, a local certified sommelier working in the restaurant industry for several years, says many people are surprised to hear how important alcohol sales are financially to restaurants.
“You can ask anybody who works in a fine dining white tablecloth restaurant to a honkey tonk bar, selling alcohol is by far the most profitable way to make money for a restaurant,” Jake Smith said.
That’s why Smith started the “Drinks To Go Forever Tennessee” Facebook group and created a change.org petition asking the Tennessee legislature to make to go drinks a permanent service.
“This is merely one extra sort of tool in our arsenal to allow us to continue to have a livelihood,” Smith said.
Hundreds have joined the Drinks To Go Forever group and more than 3,500 have already signed the online petition.
“I thought maybe if I got 50 signatures from just my family and friends, that would be something to brag about,” Smith said. “But I’ve really been touched and inspired by the number of people who have voiced their support for our cause.”
Smith’s group is asking Governor Bill Lee to extend his current executive order allowing to go alcoholic drinks to the end of the year.
They hope to create and pass a bill through the legislature next year with strict regulations and potentially tamper evident seals to deter and limit any drinking and driving.
“If this is done properly and the proper regulations are put in place, I have a strong belief that this could actually reduce drunk driving and also reduce over serving in bars,” Smith said.
A similar law has been proposed in several other states and one such law passed recently in New Jersey.
Smith is organizing a day of action June 15 to have supports call and email representatives about this issue.
To join the “Drink To Go Forever“ Facebook page, click here.