OPINION: Breweries Should Not Be Able To Run Cash Bars

By Jack Koumbis, chairman of the New Jersey Restaurant Association

On behalf of the New Jersey Restaurant Association (NJRA) representing over 25,000 eating and drinking establishments, we support State Assembly efforts to help small breweries sell their products. However, the proposed amendment permitting breweries to have a cash bar at the end of their tours leaves us frostier than the beer! Throw in a little “free” food, and we see breweries growing into open “Beer Gardens” that will undermine the value of our liquor licenses.

We favor beer samplings as part of a flat fee brewery tour, but a cash bar should require a liquor license as it always has. New Jersey restaurants have paid dearly for their liquor licenses, in some cases over a million dollars, and it’s not fair to undercut those who have properly paid for this privilege.

Currently breweries are not allowed to have cash bars, and we think this works well for all concerned. Can we imagine the Budweiser brewery in Newark having a cash bar at the end of their tour? We think not.

The NJRA urges the State Assembly to support our position and prohibit the “on premise” sale and consumption of alcohol at breweries, and we’re asking our members to do the same.

In short, we are all for the expansion of a presently very vibrant business model for micro-brews and brew pubs. But any relaxation of Title 33 as it relates to retail consumption or the cash sale of alcohol should remain as it has in this state for many years with great success.

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