GSRM Attorneys Dan Haskell and Matt Scanlan have filed a bill on behalf of the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association that should clarify several recurring issues for liquor-by-the-drink licensees. Senate Bill 1820/House Bill 1976 will permit licensees to do the following:
- Designate any contiguous area owned or controlled by the licensee as part of the premises. This will include areas such as parking lots, patios, and other outdoor areas. If the area is not enclosed by some sort of boundary, the licensee must make reasonable efforts to ensure that alcoholic beverages do not leave the designated premises.
- Permit different entities that have common areas or areas that overlap to allow their guests to carry alcoholic beverages throughout the entire premises, provided that each entity/licensee serves its alcoholic beverages in distinguishable cups.
- Allows a TABC licensed hotel to provide a registered guest with up to four (4) seven hundred fifty milliliter’s (750 ml) or smaller of sealed packages of wine or alcoholic beverages as a part of their accommodations. All applicable taxes must have been paid.
- A licensee may serve a sample of wine to a patron. The sample cannot exceed one ounce (1 oz.)
Guests sampling wine prior to purchasing a glass has been an industry practice for years, although legally it’s somewhat of a grey area. To my knowledge, the TABC has never cited anyone for this practice, but this will make it crystal clear for all parties.
The premises designation issue is one that has come up time and time again. There has been a sizeable increase over the past several years in establishments that have patios, rooftop bars, and other outdoor areas for games like cornhole and shuffleboard. This is a great way for licensees to maximize their real estate and increase seat numbers, but the TABC has generally required that these areas are fully enclosed. This is not a practical solution for many licensees, especially in urban areas. The TABC welcomes legal clarity on this issue because it has been difficult to establish uniform parameters that are fair to all licensees.
This bill will likely be on the Senate State and Local calendar in early March. It has been placed on the House State Government Subcommittee calendar for February 14th. We will keep you updated as it moves through the legislative process.