Confused & surprised: Rochester bar owners navigating new NYS alcohol service rule

Coronavirus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday that people will no longer be able to order just drinks at bars and restaurants. He said all orders must include food and standing bar service will longer be allowed.

Jason Barrett is the owner of Black Button Distilling said he’s happy to do whatever it takes to keep people safe but said it has been difficult adjusting to all these new rules. They just reopened a couple weekends ago and now they’re preparing to explain to customers why they have to order food.

“It would be helpful if we could get a little more understanding from the state as to why some of these laws are the way they are,” said Barrett.

MORE | Gov. Cuomo: No more alcohol service without food orders at New York bars and restaurants

Barrett said they already started bringing drinks to people and stopped standing bar service. While Black Button already offers food, Barrett said many people still come in just to order drinks.

“Obviously it’ll be our staff explaining it to our patrons and we’ll end up with consumers that won’t understand or will argue with us.”

Danny Deutsch owns Abilene Bar and Lounge. He hasn’t been allowing bar or indoor seating at all, but ordering drinks is still done at the bar.

“People have come in here ordered a drink and went outside to hear music and that’s the only way we’ve operated,” said Deutsch.

He said Abilene doesn’t normally sell food and he has a lot of questions about the new rules.

“As they talk about food, we wonder what that means. What constitutes food? Are chips, are snacks, does that fit the bill? Does a food truck fit the bill? If we ordered pizza and sold slices does that fit the bill?”

At this time there’s been no clarification from the Governor’s office on how these rules apply to breweries. A representative from the Governor’s office says they’re checking on it and will provide more guidance soon.

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