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Restaurants in Rochester offer their opinions on Hochul’s effort to make cocktails to-go permanent



Rochester, New York – Gov. Kathy Hochul is pushing harder than ever to keep New York state taverns and restaurants selling alcohol to-go.

Kelly Bush and other pub owners in the area are keen for it to occur. To-go cocktails have become a mainstay at her Rochester firm, Union Tavern.

“When it first became available, it was a really wonderful opportunity for us to bring in income when people weren’t really able to come out and enjoy restaurants the way they were doing before,” said Bush.

During the COVID-19 epidemic, the state first permitted to-go sales with the purchase of food, and Hochul authorized it in her 2023 budget. She is attempting to make the law permanent as part of her most recent budget, because it is currently scheduled to expire in April 2025.

“As part of our budget, we’re going to make to-go drinks permanent here in the state of New York,” said Hochul in a Feb. 15 post on X. “This is great news. A win for not just New York, but also for our small businesses.” Aaron Metras, the owner of Salena’s Mexican Restaurant, says to-go sales have been a great addition.

“I think it’s impacted the business pretty positively,” he said. “Obviously, it’s increased revenue and like I said, people are pretty excited about it.”

“It’s an extra stream of income,” said Bush. “Restaurants, they’re still not in a great place. A lot of us are (still) digging out of debt that we had to take on because of COVID.”

They claim that customers benefit from takeout drinks just as much as they do.

“It makes sense to the restaurants,” said Metras. “It makes sense to the consumers. It seems safer. People aren’t out drinking and driving. They’re taking their alcohol home with their to-go food.”

Hochul’s planned 2025 budget will be up for assessment and approval by the state legislature until April 1.