Forget about beer and wine in supermarkets, even bars and pubs want to get in on the action. They want to begin what they call “off sales” from their establishments.
The industry group Restaurants Canada says six provinces, including Quebec and British Columbia, already allow restaurants and bars to sell beer for home consumption as part of their liquor licences.
Restaurants Canada vice-president James Rilett says staff in restaurants and bars are trained to sell alcoholic beverages, and calls the idea of “off sales” a natural evolution in Ontario’s retail system.
Rilett says “off sales” would also mean wider distribution for craft and micro brewers who complain about their limited access to the LCBO and Beer Store.
The Liberal government has already made it clear the spring budget will include changes to the way beer and wine are sold in Ontario.
Premier Kathleen Wynne ruled out the idea of selling beer and wine in corner stores, but signalled some grocery stores will be granted licences.
Restaurants Canada suggested the “off sales” option in a presentation to the special advisory panel on government assets headed by former TD Bank Chair Ed Clark.
“Craft beer and microbrews were the No. 1 hot trend in the Restaurants Canada 2015 Chef Survey,” said Rilett. “Food items are increasingly being paired with craft beverages, which has helped to grow the trend.”
Ontario Craft Brewers have asked the government to allow them to open at least one off-site store per brewery and to let them sell each other’s products in their existing on-site stores, and idea Wynne said was under consideration.
Between licensed pubs that serve beer and alcohol and grocery stores that specialize in vegetables and other ingredients used to brew alcohol, pubs would quite possibly do a better job at managing sales of beer than a grocery store.