It’s the number one question in our inbox. What are the rules about alcohol delivery, carryout and curbside?
Delivery is dead. During the height of the Covid pandemic, emergency orders allowed restaurants and bars to deliver beer, wine and spirits. When legislation was being considered to make alcohol to go permanent, delivery became a contentious item and was dropped from the final legislation.
Retail liquor stores can still deliver alcohol. So can licensed delivery services, which deliver alcohol from groceries and liquor stores.
Restaurants, bars and other liquor-by-the-drink establishments cannot deliver alcohol in Tennessee. This includes food delivered through services such as Postmates and Uber Eats.
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Carryout and curbside. Tennessee enacted special legislation in 2021 to authorize restaurants, limited service restaurants (a.k.a. bars) and wine-only restaurants to continue making carryout sales. Hotels, caterers, venues and others with special licenses do not qualify under the legislation and cannot sell alcohol to go.
The law expires July 1, 2023.
No additional license is needed.
The devil is in the details. Here are the rules for carryout and curbside:
- Prepared food must be sold with carryout alcohol.
- Alcohol must be secured in a way that shows if the container has been opened.
- Single servings. The ABC limits carryout to one single serving of alcohol or one bottle of wine per order. We advise folks to pair a single serving of alcohol with each meal. With the exception of bottles of wine, the law limits serving sizes to 16 ounces.
- Mandatory carding is required for carryout and curbside.
- Carryout and curbside are taxed just like alcoholic beverages sold in the restaurant and LBD tax must be collected.
- If you want to sell carryout and curbside, you must notify the ABC by emailing Sean Atkins Sean.J.Atkins@tn.gov and posting a copy of the following sign:
If you want to sell carryout and curbside, you must notify the ABC by emailing Sean Atkins Sean.J.Atkins@tn.gov and posting a copy of the following sign:
Stings. Carryout and curbside have been fertile grounds for Tennessee ABC sale to minor stings. It seems that the folks overseeing food to-go are not as diligent about effectively identifying underage purchasers. We have seen a number of expensive ABC citations.
We encourage folks to clearly mark bags that contain alcohol, which help remind staff to check IDs. Stick a big orange sticker on it or place it in a bright red bag, for example.
Nashville beer. The Metro Nashville beer board has its own separate beer carry out permit. Although you have to apply for the Nashville beer permit, it is permanent and does not expire on July 1, 2023. It only applies to regular beer, below 10.1 percent ABV. There is a one-time $255.75 application fee and a $100 annual privilege tax to renew the permit every year.
Although state law allows beer to-go without the Metro permit, we recommend obtaining a local permit to avoid trouble.
Two big benefits come from getting the local permit: there is no single serving limit and you do not have to sell food with each serving of beer. You can sell 6 packs, for example. Plus, Metro allows delivery by the permit holder’s staff. It does not allow for beer delivery by third-party delivery services, like Uber Eats.
Keep in mind that Nashville is the only city that we know of that requires a special beer to-go permit. State law allows beer to-go - as of right now without any special license - through July 1, 2023.