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By in Latest News Comments Off on PaTaverns Tip: Are you ready for fall?

PaTaverns Tip: Are you ready for fall?

As the Summer begins to wind down, and schools start to reopen, a question that all tavern and licensed restaurant owners should ask is “Are we ready for the fall?”

Consider the following:

  1. If you hired students for the Summer, there’s a chance that they’ll be leaving for the Fall, or cutting back hours.
  2. If you’re in a college town, you may see an uptick in fake identification cards.
  3. Have you started planning for Fall events that can draw people into your establishment … football games, World Series, Halloween.

So, what can you do to get ready for the Fall?

We recommend you do the following:

  1. Start looking for replacement help now. It’s tough finding good help!
  2. Get that replacement help the RAMP training they’ll need. Remember, Members of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association receive a discount for online RAMP training. Check it out at www.pataverns.com/RAMP
  3. Get the schedules for your hometown high school football team, nearby college teams including non-Division I programs, and the popular pro teams your community follow. Plan staffing appropriately for those days, and remember to have the television sets ready to show the games. Advertise that they can watch the games at your establishment.
  4. What are the non-sporting events in your area that you can tap to encourage patrons to come to your establishment? Homecoming? Halloween? Parades? Fall festivals?
  5. Use your social media channels to get the word out about your Fall special events. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok are tools that should be in your advertising toolbox.
  6. Fall is always a good time to review your business insurances as well. Put that on your to-do list, and don’t forget that qualified Members of the PLBTA can save up to 10% on their businessowners and liquor liability insurance through Illinois Casualty Company.

And, if you’re in a college town, anticipate those fake ID cards by offering the following tips to your management and staff:

  • Bend the card … fake IDs sometimes present a crease in the laminate.
  • Feel the card … fake IDs often feel smoother.
  • Beware of the Trojan Horse … know who you’re hiring as your bouncer and servers. You don’t want the popular frat guy letting all of his brothers in regardless of age.
  • Scanners … use them, but also do a visual. Scanners will help you document the carding which may be useful later. Remember many fake IDs can fool a scanner. Scan, but don’t rely on it alone.
  • Tough questions … ask the owner of the ID card tough questions such as “what’s your zodiac sign” to see if it matches up with their birthday on the ID card. Or ask them “can you tell me the location where you got your driver’s license photo taken?”
  • Student ID … ask if they also have their student ID with them and if you can see it too.

To learn more about fake IDs, we recommend you read a story published in the August 2019 edition of Pennsylvania Beverage Media by clicking here.

 

The above story was republished from the August 2021 edition of Pennsylvania Beverage Media, the official monthly magazine of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association. All Members receive a copy every month as a benefit of Membership. If you’re not a Member, you’re missing out. Consider joining or renewing today by clicking here.

By in Latest News Comments Off on Are You Liable for an Off-Duty Employee’s Conduct?

Are You Liable for an Off-Duty Employee’s Conduct?

 

Most employers assume that they are not responsible for the conduct of their off-duty employees. However, under certain circumstances, an employee’s off-duty conduct can be imputed to the employer.

Consider this example: an off-duty security guard stays at the bar for a drink after their shift ends, and an altercation breaks out. The off-duty security guard, believing that they have a duty to act, decides to assist other members of security to stop the fight. Unfortunately, during the fog of the altercation, the unruly patron is seriously injured at the hands of the off-duty employee. Since the act of breaking up an altercation is arguably foreseeable and is for the benefit of the employer, any negligence on the part of the off-duty security guard could be imputed to the employer.

To help the business owner potentially prevent and avoid these situations, we have included some guidance to navigate this thorny area of the law. By implementing these protective measures, you will likely be in a much better position to defend these types of claims if they arise.

  • As with any area of your business, it is important that you communicate your expectations to your employees. If you do not, they will be left without a guiding compass when problematic situations arise.
  • It is imperative that you explain to every employee when they are hired that they are not allowed to perform any work-related activities when they are off the clock. If an incident does arise, the off-duty employees should be instructed to alert a member of management or security. Once the incident has been resolved, the employee can then provide the proper authorities with their observations and an account of the events that transpired. Off-duty employees should never physically or verbally interject themselves into an altercation.
  • Employees should be instructed to clock out when their shift is over. It is important to have a record keeping system that shows when the employee has clocked in or out. This record could be vital if there is any dispute at the time the injured party asserts a claim.
  • Off-duty employees still in uniform on the premises can cause confusion should an incident occur. If off-duty employees choose to remain on the premises as patrons, they should be instructed to change out of their work uniform to avoid the appearance that the off-duty employee is acting on your behalf.
  • Most importantly, the business should have a surveillance system in place to capture any incident that may arise. A copy of the video should be kept and not recorded over, in case a claim is made. If footage is given to the police, a copy should still be maintained by the business owner.

Find an ICC agent in your area by visiting our website, www.ilcasco.com.

This story appeared in the July 2021 edition of Pennsylvania Beverage Media, the official monthly magazine of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association. It was written by Nick Crosby, Esq., Litigation Counsel, of the Illinois Casualty Company.

Qualifying Members of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association can save up to 10% on their businessowners and liquor liability insurance with Illinois Casualty Company.

 

By in Latest News Comments Off on Statement: PaTaverns applauds PaHouse fixing mixed drinks-to-go bill and (again) passing it

Statement: PaTaverns applauds PaHouse fixing mixed drinks-to-go bill and (again) passing it

The following is a statement from Chuck Moran, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, concerning today’s vote on HB 1154 in the Pennsylvania House, after it was stripped of a Senate amendment that many viewed as a veto threat.

 

This evening, the Pennsylvania House of Represenatives once again passed HB 1154, sponsored by Rep. Kurt Masser, after stripping the bill of a poison pill that was added in the Pennsylvania Senate recently, and would likely cause a veto by Governor Wolf. This time, the bill passed 170-31.

In its original form that the House passed in late May, 187-14, HB 1154 would allow taverns and licensed restaurants the ability to permanently sell mixed drinks-to-go, like the industry was able during the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration. However, once the bill moved to the state Senate, it was amended to allow “ready-to-drink” cocktails to be sold by beer distributors as well as others. This was viewed by many as a step towards privatization of the state’s liquor system, something that would have caused a veto by the governor.

While some in the industry were ok with the RTD language, the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association stood firm, demanding that the RTD language be removed, while indicating how the RTD language would hurt small business taverns and licensed restaurants. Earlier this afternoon, the House Rules Committee heard the concerns of our Members by removing the RTD language. The bill then moved to the House floor where it enjoyed a favorable vote.

The House did leave in the bill other parts of the Senate amendment that will be helpful as the industry recovers including changes to off-premise catering rules and the continuation of the temporary outdoor extensions.

For the past year, Pennsylvania taverns and licensed restaurants have had the right to sell mixed drinks-to-go on a temporary basis. It was a lifeline to help struggling establishments keep their heads above the water while the government worked to create loans, grants, and other forms of assistance. Many establishments took advantage of this opportunity, while many patrons safely enjoyed professionally mixed drinks in the comfort of their homes while supporting their local taverns and licensed restaurants.

It was a proven success with both licensees and patrons responsibly enjoying this new product. Frankly, for our industry, it was one of the innovations of the year that it made us wonder why they couldn’t do this before. With the success it had, it made sense to allow our establishments to continue offering mixed drinks-to-go to consumers on a permanent basis.

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Industry urges the Pennsylvania Senate to pass HB 1154 as is. Time is running out before the legislature will adjourn for the Summer, and the industry should be allowed to sell mixed drinks-to-go.

Pennsylvania’s small business taverns and licensed restaurants thank the Members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, who realized the problematic situation that developed, and took brave action today to correct the situation.

We also want to remind the Pennsylvania legislature and governor’s office that Pennsylvania’s hospitality industry is still in a recovery mode despite mitigation orders  removed and COVID statistics decreasing. There are several other bills that could help our Members with their recovery efforts. Pennsylvania’s small business taverns and licensed restaurants encourage the House to move HB 1497. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Jones, would encourage outdoor dining and entertainment by creating fair noise regulations across the retail liquor license community, helping both musicians and establishments.

 

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About the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association is a statewide association based in Harrisburg, representing small business taverns and licensed restaurants in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Association formed in 1941, reorganized in 2019, and today advocates for best practices and rights within the industry as well as best experiences for patrons.

 

By in Latest News Comments Off on Statement: PaTaverns applauds PaHouse passing mixed drinks-to-go bill

Statement: PaTaverns applauds PaHouse passing mixed drinks-to-go bill

Chuck Moran, Executive Director

The following is a statement from Chuck Moran, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, concerning today’s passage of HB 1154 in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Today, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed HB 1154, sponsored by Rep. Kurt Masser, that would allow taverns and licensed restaurants the ability to permanently sell mixed drinks-to-go. The final vote was 187-14. The bill now moves to the Pennsylvania Senate for consideration.

Slightly more than a year ago, the Pennsylvania legislature moved a similar bill to allow such sales on a temporary basis, providing a lifeline to help struggling establishments keep their heads above the water a little longer while the government worked to create loans, grants, and other forms of assistance. Many establishments took advantage of this opportunity, while many patrons safely enjoyed professionally mixed drinks in the comfort of their homes while supporting their local taverns and licensed restaurants.

With the success that this new opportunity had during the past year, it makes sense to allow our establishments to continue offering mixed drinks-to-go to consumers on a permanent basis.

There’s no doubt that 2020 will turn out to be one of the worst years – if not the worst – of anyone’s life. The pandemic and its mitigation orders did considerable damage. Lives, businesses, and jobs were lost as the world got hit with the worst public health crisis in a century. Productivity dropped. Socialization decreased. Simply put, 2020 was not fun for any of us.

However, the pandemic forced many industries to innovate. As crazy as this might sound, one of the innovative breakthroughs and bright spots of the year for our industry was the cocktail-to-go … something so simple that it makes you wonder why licensed establishments couldn’t do this before.

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association thanks Rep. Masser for taking the lead on this latest legislation. And, we thank the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for passing HB 1154. Our Association encourages the Pennsylvania Senate to take up this bill in a timely manner, and further support small business taverns and licensed restaurants by making mixed drinks-to-go a permanent right of licensed establishments.

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About the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association
The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association is a statewide association based in Harrisburg, representing small business taverns and licensed restaurants in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Association formed in 1941, reorganized in 2019, and today advocates for best practices and rights within the industry as well as best experiences for patrons.

By in Latest News Comments Off on Statement: PaTaverns on Gov. Wolf lifting orders on May 31

Statement: PaTaverns on Gov. Wolf lifting orders on May 31

Chuck Moran, Executive Director

The following is a statement from Chuck Moran, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, concerning today’s announcement from the Wolf Administration and COVID-19 Joint Task Force that mitigation orders will be listed on May 31.

Today we learned from the Governor’s Office that the Wolf administration in coordination with the COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force will lift mitigation orders with the exception of masking on Monday, May 31, at 12:01 a.m. Masking will continue until 70 percent of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated.

Pennsylvania’s small business taverns and licensed restaurants are certainly ready for this change as the past 14 months have been some of the worst in industry history. There are countless stories of financial ruin and jobs lost.

But now the time has come in which we can move into a full recovery mode. It’s time to make the come back greater than the set back.

In recent months, our state legislature and administration have been working with our industry to help it survive and recover. We’re thankful for that assistance but want to remind both chambers and the Governor’s Office that the help shouldn’t stop just because mitigation orders targeting the industry appear to be coming to a close. There’s more work to be done, moving bills to bring back all patrons and rebuild a healthy industry again.

Speaking of patrons, as many tavern owners know, it was the support of patrons ordering take-out or buying gift cards during the roughest days of mitigation orders that allowed many establishments to keep their heads above water. The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association thanks all patrons who supported our Member establishments during the past year.

Finally, the PLBTA thanks all of its Members who stood with the Association as we navigated the past year together. We look forward to continuing to work on behalf of our Member establishments.

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About the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association
The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association is a statewide association based in Harrisburg, representing small business taverns and licensed restaurants in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Association formed in 1941, reorganized in 2019, and today advocates for best practices and rights within the industry as well as best experiences for patrons.

 

By in Latest News Comments Off on Testimony: PaTaverns and Licensed Restaurants Oppose Sale of Liquor Products By Beer Distributors

Testimony: PaTaverns and Licensed Restaurants Oppose Sale of Liquor Products By Beer Distributors

Tom Tyler, President, PLBTA

The Pennsylvania Senate Law & Justice Committee and Pennsylvania House Liquor Control Committee held a joint public hearing to receive testimony on the issue of ready-to-drink cocktails (RTDs). Pasted below is written testimony from Tom Tyler, president of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association. Mr. Tyler owns McStew’s Irish Sports Pub in Bucks County.

 

Chairmen Regan and Metzgar, Chairmen Brewster and Deasey, members of the Senate Law and Justice and Liquor Control  Committees, thank you for allowing the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association to provide testimony concerning proposed legislation to allow Ready to Drink (RTD) product manufacturers to distribute their products for sale through the PLCB or through the existing three-tier system .

The Tavern Association represents more than 400 small business taverns, pubs, and licensed restaurants across the state. Most of our Members own “R” and “H” licenses while some may have an “E” or even a club license.  For the most part, we are your local bars, taverns, pubs, and licensed restaurants.  We do not actively recruit large chains, grocery stores, or convenience stores which also may have R licenses.

In terms of business, our average Member makes a living primarily from alcohol sales. Based on our Membership studies, about 63 percent of their business is alcohol sales including liquor and malt beverages and 37% of sales are from food.

Historically, the state and stakeholders in the alcoholic beverage industry have agreed that within the three-tier system beer distributors would sell malt beverages, while state stores and other liquor licensees would sell wine and spirits products.

At one time, there was also agreement that beer distributors would sell larger volumes of malt beverages, while “R” licenses would sell smaller amounts, typically up to the equivalent of two six-packs.

Many tavern and licensed restaurant owners bought into that historic agreement, and willingly invested savings to purchase their properties, and licenses, built their businesses based on expectations under the existing law.

Act 39 broke that agreement in the name of customer convenience – on one side – when beer distributors were given the right to sell down to a single bottle, and given opportunities for them to sell slushies to go.  R and H licensees were still limited to 192 oz. of malt and brewed beverages, and clubs were still barred from even selling six packs.

A study conducted by the Tavern Association in 2019 to measure the impact of Act 39 on our Members discovered the following:

  • 75% saw a drop in six-packs-to-go sales
  • 81% indicated an overall drop in beer sales
  • 32.5% saw a drop up to 10 percent in beer sales
  • 29.2% had a drop up to 20 percent in beer sales

The sudden financial losses seen by many taverns and licensed restaurants across the state went hand-in-hand with the broken historic agreement.

And, then came the pain of COVID-19 closures, while beer distributors (and some R licensees like grocery stores and convenience stores) were allowed to remain open, further expanding their sales in those “to go” markets for beer and wine, and taking business from our members. That was like pouring salt in a wound.

Now, as we understand the proposed legislation, it would  allow beer distributors to sell ready-to-drink cocktails to go, again modifying the historic agreement amongst the industry, and expanding their markets, while being another gut punch to Pennsylvania taverns and licensed restaurants. It effectively would give beer distributors their first entry into selling liquor.

We do not know if this proposal would prevent beer distributors from creating to-go slushies with these products, much like they do with malt-based products.  But I can already see customers driving home from a beer distributor with a Malibu Pina Colada slushy.

If it is the committee’s interest to permit beer distributors to get into liquor sales, then a much bigger conversation should be held to discuss balancing the playing field for all parties involved on all licensee issues.

For example, because beer distributors may now sell as little as a single bottle of beer, we would suggest R, H, and E licenses should be allowed to sell more than the 192-ounces now allowed. And maybe the time has come to allow clubs to sell six-packs-to-go to their Members. Should grocery stores be allowed to sell liquor bottles like the state stores? Do we get out of the business of beer distributors and state stores as we know them today, and move into businesses like Liquor Barn that can be found in Kentucky?

These are all very good and fair questions, as Pennsylvania plans changes to the way it delivers alcohol products to consumers.  But until those larger questions are answered, the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association will oppose legislation that expands beer distributors rights at the expense of bars, taverns, restaurants  and club license holders … or that tilts the playing field even more instead of leveling the playing field for all licensees.  At this time, as we understand it, the Tavern Association cannot support RTD legislation that would allow beer distributors entry into selling liquor products.

We look forward to discussions of how R, H, E and club licensees can recover from the losses created by state orders during the 2020-21 Covid-19 response, how the Commonwealth can ensure all licensees have a level playing field in marketing and sales of alcoholic beverages, expand consumer convenience, and engage in those larger discussions over the future over Pennsylvania’s spirits, wine, and malt beverage economy.

Again, thank you for this opportunity to share our thoughts and concerns.

By in Latest News Comments Off on STATEMENT: Pennsylvania Taverns applaud State House today for passing bills to support industry recovery

STATEMENT: Pennsylvania Taverns applaud State House today for passing bills to support industry recovery

The following is a statement from Chuck Moran, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, concerning today’s votes in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on HB 425 and HB 427. 

  

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association applauds the State House of Representatives for passing HB 425 and HB 427 this afternoon, both by votes of 201-0.

HB 427, sponsored by now-retired Rep. Jeff Pyle, was highly endorsed by Pennsylvania Taverns, and would increase the discount licensed establishments receive from state stores when purchasing liquor products. Currently, taverns and licensed restaurants receive a 10 percent discount. This bill would increase the discount to 15 percent for three years, and has been a priority of our Association as part of the industry’s recovery phase.

HB 425, sponsored by Rep. Matthew Dowling, was also supported by the PLBTA and allows a licensee that is either closed for a long period of time or closes permanently to sell their liquor or wine to another licensee, helping those who did not survive the crisis.

It has been widely recognized that the tavern and restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, and has been in survival mode since March 2020. Now, with the continued success of the vaccine rollout, and mitigation orders being safely eased, there does appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

But, it’s a long tunnel and we’re not at the end of it yet. However, we have started to move into the recovery phase, which is why HB 427 is an important piece of legislative puzzle for those that have survived and are looking to rebuild their businesses.

Both bills now head to the State Senate. The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association encourages our Senate leaders to move both bills in a timely manner to help aid the industry’s recovery. 

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About the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association 

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association is a statewide association based in Harrisburg, representing small business taverns and licensed restaurants in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Association formed in 1941, reorganized in 2019, and today advocates for best practices and rights within the industry as well as best experiences for patrons.

 

By in Latest News Comments Off on Statement: Governor announces a step towards normalcy for PaTaverns and PaRestaurants

Statement: Governor announces a step towards normalcy for PaTaverns and PaRestaurants

Chuck Moran, Executive Director

The following is a statement from Chuck Moran, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, concerning today’s announcement from Governor Wolf to ease COVID-19 restrictions on Pennsylvania taverns and restaurants.

 

Last week in formal communications with Governor Tom Wolf, the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association made the point that the time had come to take a step or two towards normalcy, asking him to move last call to a later time, allow bar top seating, remove food requirements, and increase occupancy limits, in licensees’ establishments where safety protocols are followed.

As our neighboring states were relaxing different types of industry restrictions, Pennsylvania’s small business taverns and licensed restaurants were being put at a competitive disadvantage, particularly those near the state line.

With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines improving, and more Americans receiving their shots, it would make sense to begin efforts to repair the Pennsylvania economy by safely easing some restrictions.

Our Association was pleased today that Governor Wolf heard our message. Effective April 4, taverns and restaurants may resume bar service; alcohol service will be allowed without the purchase of food; the curfew for removing alcoholic drinks from tables will be lifted; and indoor dining capacity will be raised to 75 percent for those restaurants that are currently self-certified and those that undergo the self-certification process. Those establishments that are not self-certified may raise capacity to 50 percent.

Needless to say, it has been a very long year for mom-and-pop taverns and licensed restaurants, which have been the tip of the spear in this fight against COVID-19. And, while we celebrate the news today, we do so with caution realizing the virus is still here. As the light at the end of the tunnel appears a little brighter today, it is our hope that with continued success from our country’s medical scientists and the rollout of the vaccine, that we’ll be out of this dark place soon.

But for now, the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association is pleased that our Members will soon see some restrictions eased.

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About the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association is a statewide association based in Harrisburg, representing small business taverns and licensed restaurants in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Association formed in 1941, reorganized in 2019, and today advocates for best practices and rights within the industry as well as best experiences for patrons.

By in Latest News Comments Off on Formal letter to governor: PaTaverns at competitive disadvantage with other states

Formal letter to governor: PaTaverns at competitive disadvantage with other states

Chuck Moran, Executive Director

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association today delivered a formal letter to Governor Tom Wolf, indicating our state’s taverns and licensed restaurants are now at a competitive disadvantage as neighboring states ease industry COVID-19 restrictions.

Below is a copy of the letter.

 

March 10, 2021

The Honorable Thomas Wolf, Governor of Pennsylvania
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
508 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120

Dear Governor Wolf,

Today, I had a conversation with a tavern owner who owns two establishments. One is in Waverly, NY, while the other is in Sayre, PA. The owner explained that her two locations are about one mile apart (1.3 miles or a two-minute drive according to MapQuest). Essentially, they’re in the same town and have the same patrons. Her establishment in New York will soon be at 75% indoor occupancy, while her Pennsylvania location will be left behind at 25%.

I’m sure there are similar stories in Southwestern Pennsylvania now that West Virginia has indicated they will allow 100% indoor occupancy. In addition, Maryland, New Jersey and Ohio have recently eased their restrictions.

As our neighboring states relax different types of industry restrictions, it puts Pennsylvania’s small business taverns and licensed restaurants at a competitive disadvantage, particularly those near the state line.

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association has appreciated your efforts to find $145 million to create grants that will help the industry we represent. But what we hear the most from our Members is how they really just want to earn their living.

To help these mom-and-pop businesses compete with establishments in nearby out-of-state communities, we urge you to please ease off some restrictions soon.

We ask you to move last call to a later time, allow bar top seating, remove food requirements, and increase occupancy limits, in licensees’ establishments where safety protocols are followed.

It’s been a long year for this industry as it found itself at the tip of the spear in the fight against COVID. Now, with the vaccine distribution progressing and COVID data improving, we are at a better place. With the one-year anniversary quickly approaching when you first ordered dine-in service closed, it would be nice to safely take a step or two towards normalcy by easing some industry restrictions.

Sincerely,
Chuck Moran
Executive Director

By in Latest News Comments Off on Harrisburg Check-in – Getting to know Sen. Mike Regan

Harrisburg Check-in – Getting to know Sen. Mike Regan

Sen. Mike Regan

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association recently sat down with Sen. Mike Regan to learn more about his perspective on the liquor industry and the current political landscape. Sen. Regan is chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee, which oversees the state’s liquor laws, and is a key committee for the tavern industry. He serves the 31st District including parts of York and Cumberland counties.

PLBTA: Thinking back to your first elected position, what motivated you to run for public office?
MR: I’ve spent my entire career working to protect our families and helping make our community better. For 23 years I was in the United States Marshals Service, served as the Task Force Commander and then as the U.S. Marshal for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, then I became a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Now I am committed to being a strong leader in the Senate, and addressing the challenges and opportunities facing our families. I am passionate about protecting the taxpayers and our communities, and it’s something I have spent my life doing.

PLBTA: What made you particularly interested in chairing the Senate Law & Justice Committee?
MR: The Senate Law & Justice Committee has oversight over Pennsylvania’s liquor laws and there are aspects and issues that are important to me. My past service as a U.S. Marshal provides me with a unique insight into issues facing law enforcement, so I also look forward to exploring the oversight the committee has on the Pennsylvania State Police as well as municipal police issues.

PLBTA: Do you have an agenda for the Law & Justice Committee this legislative session? Are there issues that you see as needing addressed?
MR: I believe Pennsylvania has come a long way in modernizing our liquor laws as well as the LCB, but I believe there is still more work to be done. Consumer convenience is an important issue for me, and I think the committee will try to work to expand the current convenience and product choice.

PLBTA: Perhaps no other industry has suffered more or longer from Covid-19 mitigation orders than the small bars, taverns and restaurants who feel they have been unfairly targeted. All four caucuses said they want to help these mom and pop operations, but nothing was done last fall. Do you see the General Assembly and Governor working together to help save this industry early in 2021?
MR: I agree the industry has suffered greatly and small businesses were treated unfairly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I do think that as a body, the legislature needs to come together to aid these struggling businesses who have been unfairly penalized this past year.

PLBTA: Do you see any of the Covid-19 changes (drinks to go, extended outdoor seating) being extended or becoming permanent options?
MR: There have been precedents set in states like Ohio, where drinks to go have become permanent. I think the issue will be further vetted and debated throughout this legislative session. I look forward to working with my colleagues in both the Senate and the House to bring consensus to these issues.

PLBTA: In recent years, you’ve taken the lead on legislation related to cannabis-infused drinks. Please tell us your interest in this category of alcohol.
MR: Unfortunately, on many issues Pennsylvania finds itself playing a game of catch-up and the goal here is to take a pre-emptive measure for/if recreational marijuana is legalized. Recreational marijuana has been legalized in states across the country and these drinks already exist. Similar pre-emptive measures were taken for sports betting to ensure PGCB oversight.

PLBTA: What can tavern owners do to help convince legislators to support them and get the changes they need from the PLCB and state government?
MR: I encourage tavern owners to call and meet with their legislators and inform them of the issues they are facing. As elected officials we want to hear from the people on the ground so we can better understand their needs and how to help them.

PLBTA: As you know, our Members are mostly Mom-and-Pop operations. When they look around their hometowns, they see that the local hardware store has closed, the independent doctor was bought out by a hospital chain, and the neighborhood grocery store is no more. They worry that their industry is next. Do you ever worry about the loss of small businesses in our communities?
MR: I have been a long-time supporter of Mom-and-Pop operations and small businesses. It’s always said that small business is the backbone of our economy, and I believe that is especially true for the neighborhood bar and restaurant that supports the local charities, little leagues and is always there to lend a hand. I think these local establishments are invaluable to the communities they serve – I plan to do what I can to make sure these multi-generational family businesses are on a level playing field.

 

The above Q&A appeared in the March 2021 edition of Pennsylvania Beverage Media, the official magazine of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association. Members receive this monthly magazine as a benefit of membership.