City requests to AMCO that food must be included with curbside alcohol pickup orders at Bethel restaurants

by Delta Discovery Staff


he Bethel City Council passed a resolution requesting the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control (AMCO) Office to prohibit sales of alcoholic beverages by means of curbside pickup and home delivery within the City of Bethel unless the sales are accompanied by the sale of a meal.

The Citizens of Bethel voted to adopt Local Option to prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages except through a restaurant or eating place license. Alaska Statutes authorizes a restaurant or eating place license to sell beer and wine for consumption only on the licensed premises.

Resolution 20-09, which passed unanimously during the July 28th, 2020 regular city council meeting, would request that curbside purchases of beer and wine at Fili’s Restaurant or any restaurant that are permitted on City premises could not equal no more than 50% of the total purchase.

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy announced the suspension of certain regulations and statutes to provide relief to individuals and businesses impacted by COVID-19 back on April 14th, 2020. The suspension allowed for the curbside pickup of alcohol from restaurants, breweries, distilleries, and retail stores, as well as the delivery of sealed beer and wine from restaurants with food orders.

“Alaska’s hospitality industry is a robust and significant pillar of our state’s economy. By allowing for the curbside pickup of food and drink from our restaurants and the additional delivery of beer and wine with food orders, we are able to provide some relief to Alaskan business owners while upholding our social distancing health mandates,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy. “My administration will continue to monitor the COVID-19 impacts within our state and seek ways to reopen Alaska’s economy as appropriate.”

The suspension of regulations did not take into consideration how it would affect local option communities, such as Bethel.

“When these initial provisions were put forward by the Alcohol Beverage Control Board there was no food requirement for curbside and a 50/50 ratio requirement for deliveries. Given that we are in a local option community, given some of the feedback we’ve heard from the public and even given some of the restaurant owners self-imposed changes to how they are doing business I felt requesting that enforcement of a 50/50 on curbside would be a better fit for this community,” said council member Michelle DeWitt, sponsor of Res. 20-09.

Several concerned community members had let the council know what they thought about the curbside sales, stating that the curbside pickup of only alcohol directly contravenes the intent of the local option vote, which was to prohibit the sale of beer and wine except for consumption on the licensed premises and by temporarily enabling restaurant or eating place licensees to sell alcohol beyond the scope of their license.

By permitting the continued sales of alcohol by curbside pickup and delivery, but only with the purchase of a meal with the retail price of at least fifty percent of the retail price of the alcohol purchase, the Bethel City Council will protect the People’s local option vote by only permitting the sales of beer and wine from a restaurant and eating place license when a meal is also purchased, while supporting continued operation of our local small businesses, says Resolution 20-09.

Todd Perez, co-owner of Fili’s Pizza restaurant who voluntarily put in their own limitations earlier in July, expressed that he was open to working with council and would honor council’s wishes by requiring food purchases along with curbside alcohol orders as spelled out in the resolution. He said he would need a week to let his customers know about the changes.

Council’s passed Resolution 20-09 was sent to the AMCO Board, which will be meeting telephonically on August 18th, 2020 and the City of Bethel’s Resolution is on the agenda.