featured graphic for California Restaurant Association during COVID-19

California Restaurant Association praises law providing restaurant relief, flexibility during pandemic

The California Restaurant Association (CRA) today praised California Governor Gavin Newsom and members of the legislature for paving the way to offer restaurants a less-bureaucratic way to serve alcohol in expanded outdoor dining settings, allow for carry-out restaurant meals to be sold with alcoholic beverages, and to increase the number of times a catering permit may be used at the same location.

The CRA is proud to be the voice of the statewide restaurant community in seeking approval on today’s bills.

“These measures taken together will help restaurants get back on their feet and provide more choices to consumers whose lives have changed dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic,” said California Restaurant Association President and CEO, Jot Condie. “As restaurants endured and recover from another dip in indoor dining business due to the Delta variant, this legislation will build much needed opportunity and confidence.”

The bills signed by Governor Newsom today add greater certainty to some of the most successful elements of emergency pandemic relief that the CRA successfully achieved (via Executive Order) in spring of 2020. These key provisions will enable restaurants to safely serve the public and set a course on the long road to economic recovery.

Summary of relief measures:

  • AB 61 (Gabriel + Gipson) provides important flexibility so that restaurants can safely expand outdoor dining with alcohol service and continue to serve local communities. This includes a streamlined process for restaurants to obtain proper permitting without additional permit and financial hurdles.
  • SB 314 (Wiener) mirrors AB 61 with respect to ensuring the public can continue to enjoy outdoor dining with alcohol and small neighborhood businesses can continue to benefit. The legislation also allows greater usage of existing catering permits at the same location in a given year. By increasing the number of times a catering permit can be used at the same location within one year, SB 314 will be helping accommodate additional methods for safe dining and entertaining options.
  • SB 389 (Dodd) extends for five years the ability for restaurants to sell beer, wine, and cocktails with “take-out” meals picked up by the customer. (Under pre-existing law, beer and wine can be delivered from restaurants to consumers).

“Many people ordered takeout more frequently since last spring of 2020 and have stuck with that habit,” said Condie. “The ability to order a drink with a takeout meal, order a drink in an expanded outdoor restaurant space, or receive greater use of a catering permit, are welcome reforms. They will assist restaurants as they seek to stabilize and increase options to serve the dining public.”

The CRA expects expanded outdoor dining to continue to be critical for many community restaurants, as Californians return to local restaurants in larger numbers. For businesses that temporarily expanded their premises, the legislation paves the way to make these changes outlast the pandemic.

The CRA is grateful to Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (AB 61), Senator Dodd (SB 389) and Senator Wiener (SB 314) for taking some of the most successful elements of emergency pandemic relief and making them stick for the longer term on a statewide basis.

This article was released by the California Restaurant Association.