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Latest Updates for Alcohol Delivery by Restaurants in Tennessee 

by Will Cheek, III

Published: March, 2020

Submission: March, 2020


Sunday morning, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee issued an executive order limiting restaurants, bars and similar food or drink establishments to drive-through, carry-out and delivery service only. Read the order here.

Restaurants, limited-service restaurants and wine-only restaurants can sell take-out and deliver alcoholic beverages and beer. There is no additional license or permission needed to deliver.

Restaurants can use employees or third-party delivery services such as Postmates and Uber Eats to deliver alcohol. Delivery personnel are not required to have server permit cards or any special qualifications.

Keep in mind that if you are using a third-party delivery service, your restaurant remains liable for sales to minors, intoxicated persons or the violation of any other law. A restaurant will not be able to avoid liability by saying the Uber driver did it.

Since issuance of the order, restaurants and bars have sprung into action across Tennessee to start delivering alcohol with food orders. We understand that one national chain mobilized 65 restaurants across Tennessee to begin full bar delivery starting today, Monday, March 23 - moving to an off-premise business model in roughly 24 hours.

We urge folks to keep hustling during these difficult times and checkLast Callfor updates. The Tennessee ABC has posted FAQshere.


Here is our summary of the rules of engagement for to-go, curbside, drive-through and delivery:

1. Alcohol must be delivered with food. At least one item of food must be sold in every order containing alcohol. The amount of food required is not specified, but given the emergency nature of this order, we encourage restaurants not to play games and count lime slices as food, for example.

Licensees are still required to be responsible. Restaurants can set rules, such as one entrée per pitcher of margaritas. You can always require that customers order a meal or set a minimum dollar amount of food for deliveries.

2. Alcohol must be packaged in a container or bottle with a secure lid or cap. We read this rule to mean that the container must be closed. Closed is not the same as sealed. For example, a lid screwed on the top of a plastic jug is closed. Alcohol does not have to be sealed, meaning you do not have to attach seals like you would find on commercial products at grocery stores.

The ABC advises restaurants to “cover containers in a reasonable manner that would require the consumer to unpackage them for consumption.” For example, we believe a styrofoam container with a lid that does not have a straw hole will work. If all your lids have straw holes, tape the straw holes.

3. Bottles and cans of beer and wine can be delivered, including regular-sized wine bottles. No bottles of spirits or liquor.

4. Restaurants must post a signwith the following notice: “No driver shall consume any alcoholic beverage or beer or possess an open container of alcoholic beverage or beer while operating a motor vehicle in this state.” Although the order is not clear, we advise folks to post the sign on the wall, with your liquor license.

5. Mandatory carding for deliveries. Sales cannot be made to under 21 or intoxicated persons.


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