Businesses prepare to bring liquor and cannabis sales curbside, limited drink deliveries already underway
All week Matanuska Brewing Company has been doing drink deliveries with meal orders. So far, it's a big hit, and the added business is giving three employees who would normally be tending bar something to do.
"The addition of alcohol delivery to what we are doing now is already a game changer," owner Matthew Tomter told KTUU. "We were already delivering pizza and burgers and everything else we do, so throwing a six pack of beer in there is no big deal."
Like most other eateries in Alaska, the brewery and restaurant has gone into full delivery and take out mode as a response to statewide health mandates. Last week, the Alcohol Control Board voted on regulations that would allow Alaskan restaurants to offer beer and wine, alongside delivery orders for food.
While the practice of bringing food and drinks right to the customer's door is already in full swing, package stores are also waiting for the final go-ahead to take advantage of new rules which permit the curbside sell of liquor. Bars are also eligible to provide these sales; however, all bottles and cans sold at the curb must remain sealed.
Crush co-owner Scott Anaya says he is hopeful that his package store will get final approval to go curbside within the next few days. He says they will be able to begin immediately and that the "touch-less" process will be much safer for staff and customers.
"We are still waiting for the liquor control board to authorize us to do that, and we anticipate that happening fairly soon," Anaya said. "The less we interact with people, unfortunately ... the better."
While beer and wine deliveries and the curbside liquor sales came about at the same meeting, another recent change to state regulations has gotten members of the cannabis industry excited about similar arrangements to those being discussed by package stores.
Lily Bosshart is one of the owners of Dankorage in Spenard. She says her store applied for curbside sales with the Marijuana Control Board as soon as they voted the change through, but dispensaries are required to lay out a plan for checking ID's and provide surveillance of each sale, even when doing business at the curb.
Bosshart says Dankorage has those plans in place, as it's only a slight change from the in-store pick-ups that her shop offers now.
"We just need that go ahead to be able to take our product and outside of our licensed premises and hand it to somebody in the car," she said.
Marijuana sales are still a cash-only transaction in Alaska, and the hope for Dankorage's staff is that cutting back on contact in other ways will be a means of protecting themselves and their customers.
"We are thankful that we get to remain open," Bosshart said. "It's really important for us to be able to continue to service our communities in the safest way possible."