Tennessee Extends Alcohol Carryout and Delivery through February 27 

December, 2020 - Will Cheek, III

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has extended the executive order allowing carryout and delivery of beer, wine and spirits for restaurants.

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

Lee extended the privilege through to 11:59 pm February 27, which brings welcome certainty to an industry battered by the pandemic.

Lee continued the state of emergency for the longest amount of time under state law. Health departments in Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Madison, Shelby and Sullivan counties will retain the discretion to implement local restrictions, including mask requirements and capacity limitations.

Lee also extended remote notarization and witnessing of documents, and allowed government meetings to take place electronically, subject to certain transparency safeguards. This means beer boards and the ABC can continue to meet via Zoom and WebEx.

We urge folks to keep hustling during these difficult times and checkLast Callfor updates. The Tennessee ABC has posted FAQs about carry out and delivery here.

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

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 two single-serving margaritas. You can always require that customers order a meal or set a minimum dollar amount of food for deliveries.

You can deliver cocktailsAs long as the package has a secure lid, we read the order as allowing delivery of margaritas, cocktails and other mixed drinks.

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.

Bottles and cans of beer and wine can be delivered. This includes regular-sized wine bottles. No bottles of spirits or liquor.

Single serving packages only. Although beer and wine by the bottle may be sold, no other multi-serving containers are allowed. For purposes of single servings, the ABC says no more than 16 oz. of beer, 9 oz. of wine or 4 oz. of spirits in a container with not more than 16 ounces of total liquid.

No more carafes of sangria or pitchers of margaritas to-go. You can sell multiple single-serving containers with a meal, although we continue to recommend moderation under this emergency order.

Mini bottles of spirits present a conundrum. State law prohibits the sale of spirits by the bottle. However, Governor Lee’s order specifically authorizes “single servings of alcoholic beverages.”


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