Coronavirus Outbreak Virginia

Customers Tim Beinz and John Kuentz walk into a restaurant Monday, March 16, 2020, in Richmond, Va. The two are part of a construction crew.

(The Center Square) – More than three-fourths of Virginians want the state to continue allowing restaurants and bars to sell drinks to go after the state authorized the practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

An online survey released by the National Restaurant Association said 78 percent of Virginians support allowing the practice permanently. The data showed about one-third of Virginia adults recently purchased an alcoholic beverage with a takeout order, and nearly 40 percent of patrons said having the option to purchase alcohol made them more likely to choose a restaurant over a competitor who did not offer the option.

“To recover and achieve solvency, restaurants need access to a diverse set of revenue streams as they reopen at limited capacity,” Eric Terry, the president of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association said in a statement. “To-go and delivery beer, wine, and mixed cocktails has been a welcomed addition, has been safely implemented by operators, and has provided restaurants across the commonwealth with a fighting chance to succeed in these challenging times.”

Ending the restriction on alcohol-to-go sales permanently also has support among some businesses in the industry.

“We’re grateful for the VABC’s recent approval of to-go cocktails, which have helped tremendously in our attempt to recoup drastic revenue losses from the pandemic,” Billy Ennis, co-owner of Bay Local Eatery in Virginia Beach, said in a statement. “In addition to offering an added draw to encourage our guests to visit for curbside service, it ultimately allows for them to take a piece of the distinctive Bay Local experience with them. We desperately hope that this added takeaway experience will be offered indefinitely.”

“Cocktails to-go has been a great way to add back revenue we're sorely missing without dine-in service,” Shannon Conway, director of operations for R&L Hospitality Group in Richmond, said in a statement. “Not to mention, it's an awesome way to connect with our guests and deliver more fully on the experiences that made them frequent visitors in the first place. Things aren't going to ‘go back to normal’ for restaurants – and takeout and delivery will be a more significant part of all restaurants' income going forward.”

The survey was conducted by Engine. It polled 500 adults living in the commonwealth.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and West Virginia for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.