Petitioners want to-go cocktails at restaurants to be permanent

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Ordering to-go alcoholic drinks at Tennessee restaurants could become a permanent thing after the coronavirus pandemic.

A group of Memphians are circulating a petition to make it permanent, and the petition has gotten more than 1,700 signatures.

As it stands right now, Gov. Bill Lee’s order allowing to-go cocktails extends through May 29.

Supporters plan on sending the petition to state lawmakers.

State Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) said he’ll vote yes on such a bill, and he thinks other lawmakers would support it, too.

“Any opportunities where taxes can be generated or increased sales or increased business, I think that most people will be for it,” Rep. Parkinson said.

Jess Ajoc, a manager at Loflin Yard in downtown Memphis, said almost every customer who comes in wants a to-go cocktail.

“If it weren’t for the to-go alcohol, we probably wouldn’t have been able to stay open through quarantine, and we probably would have had to lay off a whole lot more people than we did,” Ajoc said.

The practice has helped keep Loflin and many other restaurants afloat, but critics say to-go cocktails are dangerous. They worry the practice will lead to more drinking and driving.

“People do that already. If they want to, they’re going to do it,” Ajoc said. “I mean, they can just go up to the convenience store and pop open a beer that they just bought, you know?”

The Memphis Restaurant Association supports the initiative but thinks it’ll be hard to get anything done in this year’s legislative session. The association hopes the governor will extend his order past May 29.

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