PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Cocktails to-go and alcohol sales outdoors are measures that have helped restaurant owners stay afloat during the pandemic, and some say it’s still necessary as the dining industry tries to bounce back. But it could be in jeopardy, which is why members of City Council are urging state legislators to take action.
The bustling West Philadelphia corridor around 50th Street and Baltimore Avenue is gradually returning to a sense of normalcy.
Restaurants, like Booker’s, are seeing new life after city and state pandemic restrictions were lifted, but outdoor dining capacity is back to being limited and the state’s cocktails to go measure remains stalled in Harrisburg.
“There’s great concern that restaurants will not be able to make it through this summer,” City Councilmember Allan Domb said.
Domb and his colleagues on City Council are calling on state officials to pass legislation to support restaurants’ recovery efforts.
Drinks to-go and outdoor dining expansion limits were abruptly halted once the governor’s disaster declaration ended a week ago.
Now, there’s political wrangling about a new bill that would expand venues that could serve cocktails to-go.
“In many ways, I feel like we’re sacrificing restaurants for politics right now and our restaurants deserve better,” Domb said.
“By telling us you pass a rule and boom, tomorrow we have a switch of a light and we turn our business off. I don’t get it,” said Booker’s owner Saba Tedla.
Tedla owns Booker’s Restaurant in West Philly and needs the added revenue boost.
“Takeout cocktails was helpful, it kind of offset some of the foot traffic that we don’t get normally and it’s a blow to the industry,” Tedla said.
Jabari Jones with the West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative is petitioning state legislators to act as well to keep this business corridor thriving.
“We, as well as a number of organizations, are really calling on all members of the state legislature to pass this bill that’s coming up on Thursday because these restaurants really need it,” Jones said.
State legislators are expected to discuss the bill Thursday as many restaurants will be watching closely.