B.C. restaurants are hoping cheaper booze will help them get back on their feet - InfoNews

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B.C. restaurants are hoping cheaper booze will help them get back on their feet

Image Credit: AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File
May 13, 2020 - 7:00 AM

Getting a deal on liquor prices from the B.C. Government could help restaurants survive the devastating impact of COVID-19.

The B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association is asking the B.C. Treasury Board to allow restaurants to buy liquor from the province at wholesale costs, rather than paying retail prices as they do now.

“Because the industry is so totally devastated by what’s happened here, we’ve looked at every way to build up any opportunity to see if the restaurants can even get up and running,” association president and CEO Ian Tostenson told iNFOnews.ca.

The hope is that the restaurants can save as much as 20 per cent on their liquor costs and use those profits to help make themselves viable over the next year or more that it will take to recover from their enforced shut down.

Of course, if the change is approved, that will only help restaurants that sell liquor. For those that do have liquor licences, liquor sales may range from 20 to 40 per cent of their business.

If it’s approved, he doesn’t expect any of the savings will be passed on to customers, yet.

“I hope restaurants keep that extra margin right now because they need to pay their staff, they need to pay their landlords,” Tostenson said. “They’ve got all these things they haven’t paid for awhile. They’re going to need that extra margin right now just to pay to get themselves open. But I think, in time, as the hospitality industry always does, it tries to find a way to create value for its guests, for sure.”

He expects that a decision will be made in the next week or two.

He's also waiting for re-opening guidelines, expected from WorkSafeBC today. They will be fairly general, simply requiring that restaurants provide space for customers and staff to safe distance, he said.

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