By Nathan Ham
In an effort to help dine-in restaurants and bars make it through the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Boone ABC Board is finalizing the proper procedures necessary to purchase unopened alcohol.
“We are trying to figure out exactly how to handle it. We have tentatively voted to do that but we just want to make sure what we are doing is okay with our accountants and the state ABC board,” said Boone ABC board member Charlie Wallin.
Wallin says that restaurants and bars can sell back unopened, clean bottles that still have their labels on them that were purchased after January 1, 2020. Those selling their alcohol back to the store should also have their invoice ticket from when they purchased the alcohol.
“This is going to be like giving them a loan to get them through some tough times even if it’s just a few dollars. They’re probably going to turn around and buy that liquor right back when they get back open again,” Wallin said.
According to Ronnie Hayes, the general manager of the Boone ABC store, no restaurants or bars have taken advantage of the liquor buyback yet.
“I think they all have hopes of getting back open,” he said. “I feel for them, I really do. Places trying to make it on just food sales have it really tough.”
Hayes says walk-in business has been pretty good, but having very little restaurant liquor sales has made a huge difference in the numbers. In March of 2019, the Boone ABC store sold $134,407 in liquor to restaurants and bars. This March, sales dropped off over $75,000 to a total of $58,754. Last April, sales to restaurants were $129,495. Unless the stay-at-home order ends later this month, April will not have any liquor sales to restaurants.
The walk-in sales have been steady. Walk-in sales for March this year from the general public tallied $110,926.
With the ABC store being considered an essential business, workers are doing everything they can to keep the store as clean as possible.
“We are taking the proper steps to keep everything clean and we’re doing out part trying to keep the virus from spreading,” said Hayes.
The hours of operations have changed because of the epidemic, the Boone ABC store is now open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Restaurant or bar owners interested in selling their liquor back to the store should call 828-262-3616.