Good news for the catering industry

Off-site caterers celebrate new state alcohol regulations

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., left, and John Kowalenko, co-owner of Art of Eating, are working on legislation to modernize the state’s alcohol laws.

Fred W. Thiele Jr. Office

Off-site catering companies on South Fork welcome government. Kathy Hochul signed in December. 20. Legislate to close loopholes that previously restricted them from obtaining liquor licenses.

Previously, off-premises caterers without brick-and-mortar restaurant space of 50 or more seats — meaning most, if not all — could only apply for a temporary permit, per a proclamation from Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. , allowing them to serve beer, wine and cider, but not spirits. They will now be able to apply for a permanent catering license, eventually allowing them to add the sale of alcohol and alcohol in general to the “approved” list.

Owners of these businesses – and there are a lot of them here – are seeing this as an opportunity to host a wider variety of events and make more money as they can now offer and sell alcohol more widely . Weddings and other celebrations, gallery events, charity benefits, events at public facilities – all are fair game for the supply and sale of alcohol through the new legislation.

Christina DeSanti, who co-owns Drayson Catering with her husband Rudy DeSanti, applauds the changes. They, like many others, had a commercial food prep kitchen rather than a sit-down restaurant with a permanent liquor license, so Ms. DeSanti said they ended up “turning down a lot of these events just to avoid the Trouble.” Customers are responsible for applying for event permits, which can take three weeks or more to obtain, but caterers will be responsible for meeting permit conditions, “even if they’re just doing food and not involved in serving alcohol, which brings us Liability and heavy fines.”

“It’s very helpful for licensed off-premises caterers,” she said. DeSanti said.

Cynthia Battaglia of Distinctive Catering Inc., one of her local peers in the industry, agrees. Before the new legislation was introduced, she said, “I had to work with a restaurant and have them come in and do the drinks portion of the event, and then the money would go to them. Now I can do everything—I don’t have to bag it out, my There will also be more profits for the company. That’s what we’re all focused on – we don’t have to struggle to get a liquor license. . . . This is a win for all catering companies. So, they are now There are more options to take on more work.”

The two ladies DeSanti and Ms. Battaglia credits Art of Eating co-owner John Kowalenko with helping lead the change. gentlemen. Kovalenko said the new legislation has been in the works for about four years.

“It’s a lot of work and there are costs involved, but at least we can do it now,” he said. “It’s going to really help all of us in our industry get through the next tough economic period. It comes at the perfect time, right before Christmas. It’s a really great gift.”

When his company had a restaurant in Amagansett, then at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, Mr. Kowalenko has a license that allows him to serve alcohol. However, when the company moved to Butter Lane in Bridgehampton a few years ago, he ran into a problem. He applied to and received a provisional license with the state Liquor Authority, but ended up receiving a “deficiency letter” because his facility didn’t have the 50 seats needed to maintain a typical liquor license.

“I said, ‘I know, we’re on the sidelines.’ And they said, ‘No, you have to have 50 seats. I said, ‘This is crazy. It doesn’t make any sense. They agreed, but said that’s what the law says. Yes,” Kovalenko said.

Along the way, the liquor licensing bill gained another local supporter. East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc sent a letter to Governor Hochul on Dec. 12. 15 Point out the importance of the Eastside off-premises catering industry, not only as a service but also as a major employer.

“These foodservice business owners are the responsible party for running legitimate businesses in our town . . . Please take the necessary steps to enact this practical legislation that removes unfair barriers for these caterers,” Van Skoyok wrote.

gentlemen. Thiele, along with State Senator Anna Kaplan of Nassau County, sponsored the legislation, which it sums up as a modernization of the state’s existing alcohol laws.

“This new law supports small businesses by making it easier for the off-premises restaurant industry to operate in New York State and remain competitive.

. . . I thank Governor Hochul for signing this important measure into law,” Tiller said in a statement.

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