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By in Latest News Comments Off on KonekTV, PLBTA Join Forces To Help Taverns, Licensed Restaurants Survive COVID-19

KonekTV, PLBTA Join Forces To Help Taverns, Licensed Restaurants Survive COVID-19

Agreement Provides Free PLBTA Membership and KonekTV

(Harrisburg, PA – August 10, 2020) A national company is coming to the assistance of Pennsylvania’s taverns and licensed restaurants to provide financial assistance as the industry struggles through the COVID-19 crisis that has forced hardships on many establishments.

KonekTV, based in Las Vegas, has joined forces with the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association to guarantee establishments have the financial resources to join the state tavern association. In addition, KonekTV will provide their product to those establishments for free.

“We know that Pennsylvania’s taverns and licensed restaurants are struggling financially,” said Javier Vargas, Chief Operating Officer of KonekTV. “We’re going to help them through this crisis by paying their membership dues in the PLBTA for one year and also make our product available to them at no charge. In addition to bolstering the PLBTA’s ability to support the establishments, our product will directly help the establishments benefit from the emerging mobile sports betting industry.”

KonekTV is a digital signage solution and the world’s leading brick-and-mortar platform for sports betting education, information, and promotions in states that have legalized mobile sports betting. Through their innovative product, establishments display sports betting odds and other related sports and establishment news through existing televisions. This allows patrons to use the information when placing bets through their mobile devices.

“Having owned and operated bars and casinos for decades, I know that on-premise technology often lags the at-home experience. KonekTV bridges that divide and brings even better sports betting content and promotions to bar guests than they can get at home. We’ve seen this work in our hometown of Las Vegas and with our national partners, and we are thrilled to bring KonekTV to Pennsylvania hand-in-hand with the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association,” said Seth Schorr, CEO of KonekTV.

“Mobile sports betting is becoming increasingly more popular in Pennsylvania,” said Chuck Moran, executive director of the PLBTA. “Many patrons of taverns regularly tap the power of smart phone apps to place bets, so KonekTV’s product is a great way for an establishment to entertain customers, and keep them longer. It is a natural fit for our industry, especially sports bars.”

From now through November 1, 2020, whenever a Pennsylvania tavern or licensed restaurants activates the KonekTV product, the company will pay for a one-year membership in the PLBTA. Existing Members will have their memberships extended 12 months.

Moran adds that in addition to providing financial assistance to Pennsylvania’s taverns, it will also enable many establishments to access important Member-only emails and communications to help guide them through the COVID-19 crisis.

“Since March, we’ve been working hard to keep our Members in the loop as state orders change,” said Moran. “This agreement between KonekTV and the PLBTA opens the door for non-members to be a part of organized taverns, thus giving them access to relevant benefits to run their businesses. We thank KonekTV for their interest in helping Pennsylvania’s taverns and licensed restaurants.”

Pennsylvania taverns and licensed restaurants interested in a free PLBTA membership for one year and free access to KonekTV should send an email to PLBTA@KonekTV.com.

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About KonekTV
KonekTV is a digital signage solution and the world’s leading brick-and-mortar platform for sports betting education, information, and promotions, in states that have legalized mobile sports betting, such as Pennsylvania! KonekTV powers ad platforms and sports betting content at restaurant chains, stadiums, arenas and casinos across the country.

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.

 

Media Contact: PLBTA Public Affairs, (717) 232-8671

By in Latest News Comments Off on Testimony: Industry Survival and Recovery Needs to Preserve Businesses and Jobs

Testimony: Industry Survival and Recovery Needs to Preserve Businesses and Jobs

The following is testimony presented to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Republican Policy Committee on July 28, 2020, by Jim DeLisio, PLBTA Board Member and York County Tavern Association President. Mr. DeLisio is also the owner of the Racehorse Tavern. Joining him to present was Chuck Moran, Executive Director, PLBTA. The testimony was provided as to discuss problems the COVID-19 crisis has caused for the tavern industry, and to raise awarenes of industry needs to survive.

Chuck Moran

Chairman Causer, members of the Committee, good morning. I’m Chuck Moran, executive director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association. With me is Jim DeLisio, a Board Member of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association and also President of the York County Tavern Association. Jim is the owner of the Racehorse Tavern, an independent family-run establishment in Thomasville.

Let me begin by thanking you for inviting the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association to testify today about our struggling industry as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and state orders. We appreciate being here to share the story of our Members and industry.

I’m going to start off with some general information about our Association, our Members, and our industry. Then I’m going to ask Jim to tell his story and the daily struggles that he and his employees face daily.

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 have an R license (and many have Wine Expanded Permits).

In terms of business, our average Member makes a living primarily from alcohol sales. In fact, based on our Membership studies, about 63 percent of their business is alcohol sales and 37% of sales are from food.  For what it’s worth, the most popular beer served would be Bud, while the most popular mixed drink would be Jack and Coke.

Based upon Membership studies, our average member employs about 16 individuals including the owner and family members. They serve less than 4,000 customers every month. If you count the chairs and barstools, throughout my Member establishments, you’ll find less than 100.

Again, my Members are your locally-owned, mom-and-pop businesses.

For the sake of overall industry data, looking at the state list of active R and H licenses, there are about 9,400 licensees that are not grocery stores, convenience stores or large chains.  These are primarily small businesses.

Knowing that my average Member employs about 16 individuals, Pennsylvania’s small business R and H licensees create around 150,000 jobs.  And, assuming national industry data is correct, you can anticipate more than half are women, many of whom are single mothers.

Based on one national study from earlier in the crisis, 81 percent of these employees have been laid off or furloughed early in the crisis. We worry that with the latest state orders, many of those who returned to jobs are now almost assuredly facing another layoff.

One national research institute estimated that restaurants have only a 15 percent chance of remaining open if the crisis lasts six months. We are now four full months into this crisis, and we worry that the latest state orders will accelerate closures.

Since March, these small business establishments along with their employees have been on a downward spiral. I’ve spent many hours on the phone talking some off the edge. For the owner, their business is their retirement package. For their employees, the job they have is extremely important to keep up with their bills.

They are all scared and I can hear the panic in their voices when they call.

To give you an example of how serious the situation has become, I have one Member that I was so worried about that I gave her the phone number for the Suicide Prevention Hotline.  I get daily calls and emails telling me that members are being forced to close their doors.

My job has suddenly become that of a counselor and I literally spend hours every day listening to or responding to emails from Members who are desperate.

In March and April, those who remained open were just barely keeping their heads above water when allowed only to offer take-out service. Some didn’t even open, because there was no way to NOT lose money operating on sales of less than 10% of normal.

That’s ten percent of normal, with 100% operational costs in an industry where the profit margin is well below five percent.  Let that sink in.

Thankfully, your work to legalize mixed spirits drinks to go on a temporary basis was a lifeline that kept many afloat through that stage of the crisis. And your efforts to push for outside seating under the Yellow Phase allowed many of them to at least ride along in hopes of a resurgence of business when their counties went Green.  We thank you for doing so.

My Members thought they were beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel as each county graduated from Red to Yellow and then to Green. While not the perfect business scenario for the industry, establishments were able to restart outdoor and indoor service with limitations.

But, it turned out to be false hope. Governor Wolf’s order on July 15 was a set back for every tavern and licensed restaurant in the state – including the good apples who were doing everything right. It closed their bar seating, further limited indoor seating to 25 percent, and required a meal to be ordered with drinks either indoor or outdoor.

The impact of the Governor’s so-called “targeted” response has been negative, especially so in areas of the state with low COVID statistics. The broad brush stroke – at a time when state enforcement data shows a low number of warnings and no citations – is quite questionable. It’s a shotgun approach that has had collateral damage. Simply put, it’s hitting the wrong targets. The revised order cast a large net, but only caught the good apples, letting the bad apples continue to operate as if nothing is wrong.

Our industry at a tipping point. Our local taverns and licensed restaurants need help if they are going to make it through this crisis and save jobs.

You have with our testimony a list of recommendations from our Association. While many are relying on the federal government to provide an industry bailout, we are also calling upon the state to do something.  In fact, there are quite a few things that should be considered to make a difference and ease some stress. These range from additional grants to erasing licensing fees for two years – one year to make up for this lost year and one year to help with recovery.

At this point, I’ll turn the mic over to Jim to tell his personal story.

Jim DeLisio

  • Personal story of his business
    • Initially closed
    • Rethought business model
    • Costs associated with license
    • Cost associated with safety compliance
    • Impact on his employees
  • York County industry observation
    • Industry needs 65-to-70 percent capacity just to break even
    • Bartender and server tips are down overall
    • Estimates that 10-15% of bars in York County have had to close for good, while another 30 to 40% are temporarily closed.

Again, thank you for this opportunity. If you have any questions, we’ll be happy to provide thoughts.

 

By in Latest News Comments Off on Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association Renews Its Call For State To Set Up Special Relief Program For Tavern, Restaurant Industry

Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association Renews Its Call For State To Set Up Special Relief Program For Tavern, Restaurant Industry

(Harrisburg, PA – July 20, 2020) In light of revised state-directed COVID-19 orders negatively impacting taverns and licensed restaurants and the industry’s workforce, the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association (PLBTA) last week called on the General Assembly and Wolf Administration to create an industry relief package to help these small business establishments.

With the situation becoming more desperate as each day passes, this week the PLBTA again is urging state officials to move quickly to save an industry that is at a tipping point.

“The Tavern Association’s members have suffered as much or more than any other segment of Pennsylvania business and industry since mid-March,” said Chuck Moran, Executive Director of the PLBTA. “Our small business taverns, bars, and licensed restaurants have been closed, then limited in reopening, and been forced to comply with rigid and expensive requirements that make profits impossible, because the state has a hammer over them in licensing through the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.”

The costs for these mom and pop operations he noted, which exist on slim profits in the first place, have resulted in the closing of taverns, in the cause of preventing spread of the Covid-19 virus.  Many more are barely hanging on, in hopes that reopening would begin to limit their losses.  They have complied with every requirement, accepted every closing and limitation, and done their fair share and more to support the state’s effort to slow down the spread of the virus, Moran says

“The Governor’s action last week that threw the industry – and just one segment of the state economy – back into a virtual ‘yellow phase’ has jolted these small businesses, and made it increasingly difficult for them to survive,” Moran said.  “State Government needs to recognize the social and economic value of our community-based taverns and licensed restaurants, and provide them with support to avoid the permanent loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

Moran predicts that with the governor’s most recent declaration the industry’s continuing financial hardships will continue likely until either a vaccine or herd immunity is established.

“We’re going to need a bigger lifeboat to save this sinking industry from the jaws of coronavirus,” Moran said. “Outdoor seating – and service of alcoholic beverages only with a meal is not a business model built for survival.  Sales of alcoholic beverages comprise the majority of income for many of these businesses, and food sales have been reduced to ten percent of their norm.  Loss of both has been devastating.  The latest proscriptions for these businesses make it virtually impossible to make a profit while maintaining the jobs they have created.  And being realistic, those that can survive through outdoor seating season will experience additional hardships once colder weather arrives in the fall and winter months, making outdoor seating impossible.”

To provide a lifeline to these businesses, today the Tavern Association again called on leaders in Harrisburg to act quickly on a restaurant and tavern industry relief package that would include the following:

  1. Passage of HB 2615, sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens (R, Montgomery County), creating a Community Cornerstone Grant Program, to provide grants to small business restaurants and taverns to assist with COVID-19-related business losses, and expenses including costs associated with new outdoor seating, educational expenses including trade association memberships, hand sanitizer, staff PPE, indoor separators (plexiglass installation), digital thermometers… etc.
  2. Elimination of all license fees and surcharges for liquor-related service establishments for two years, provided the establishment had previously allowed on-site consumption.
  3. Elimination of all small games of chance license fees for R, H, E, and clubs for two years.
  4. Passage of SB 1194 or similar legislation providing limited civil Immunity from liability for bars, taverns and restaurants that attempt, in good faith, to adhere to the provisions of the COVID-19 emergency declaration, the Governor’s 3-16-2020 COVID-19 Business Closure Order or any other executive order relating to COVID-19, or any guidance issued by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, the Department of Health or the Secretary of Health.
  5. Creation of a Small Business Tavern and Licensed Restaurant Promotion Program coordinated by both the PLCB and the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association to equal those financed for the beer, wine and spirits craft industries.
  6. Create a Liquor Licensee Specialty Council consisting of specialty associations within the industry including taverns, clubs, brew pubs, wineries, and distilleries to build future industry/state government dialogue.
  7. Permanent acceptance of mixed drinks-to-go as a business practice under the state Liquor Laws.
  8. To save money from delivery charges, allow licensed establishments the ability to pick up and deliver their own malt beverage orders, like the model followed when ordering spirits through the PLCB.
  9. Encourage outdoor seating by making the free temporary licensed premise extensions permanent at no additional cost to the licensee.
  10. Encourage outdoor seating expansion and support the entertainment industry by allowing up to 75 decibels of noise on a property line for all establishments with a liquor license, not just some.
  11. Modernize the state’s sanitation requirements to require tap cleaning once every 14 days.
  12. Cap third-party delivery charges for home delivery of meals from all restaurants and taverns.
  13. Increase discount that licensed establishments receive when purchasing liquor through state stores.
  14. Eliminate the $50 minimum purchase requirement at state stores in order for a licensed establishment to receive a discount.

 

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