DENVER — A bill scheduled for its first committee hearing next week in the State Senate would allow patrons to any establishment holding a hotel and restaurant license to sell alcohol the ability to bring their own bottle of wine for consumption on-site during the meal.
Senate Bill 20-145, Bring Own Wine into Restaurant, would allow anyone 21 or over to bring in one bottle up to 750 ml of vinous liquid (wine) — under certain situations — into any establishment where “meals are actually and regularly served for the on-premises consumption.”
Companions 21 and over may also consume the beverage. Restaurant owners and patrons have raised questions about the bill, such as if it is limited to one bottle per table or if each adult 21 or over may bring in one bottle, or how the mandate would be enforced.
The sponsor of the bill, Kerry Donovan, D-Vail did not return requests from Complete Colorado for comment.
There are only a few exceptions to the proposed new law:
- The customer has brought a container of vinous liquor into the licensed premises in the previous 24 hours.
- The licensee or any agent of the licensee reasonably believes that the customer is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- The licensee has ceased serving meals for the day or is preparing to cease serving meals for the day.
- The licensee reasonably believes that the customer has committed any of certain unlawful acts on the licensed premises.
The bill allows a customer to reseal and remove from the licensed premises an opened container of partially consumed wine that the customer originally brought in to the premises.
It is scheduled to be heard at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday before the Senate Business, Labor and Technology in Senate Committee Room 354.
Restaurateur Matt Larson said he could never support a bill such as this, which also does not address whether restaurants would be allowed to charge cork fees, which can range anywhere from $10-$40 on average to recover a portion of the lost sale.
“How is a restaurant going to know if they’ve been in there within the last 24 hours,” Larson said. “It seems poorly written and not very thought out about the consequences.”
Larson has owned and operated Kenny’s Steak House in Greeley for 25 years. He is also the former Chairman of the Board of the Colorado Restaurant Association. He remains on the board of directors. He said restaurant owners put in all the capital and have all the risk.
“I could never support a law like this,” Larson said. “We have liquor licenses that we hold dear to our hearts; we highly regard them. We have a high liquor liability. Liquor licenses are not cheap. That is going to cut into our capability to make money. We’re in the business to sell alcohol not to let people bring it in. It doesn’t make good business sense, and there are a lot of liability issues surrounding the whole thing.”