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State Liquor Authority OKs sales of beer and wine in movie theaters

WRGB Albany logo WRGB Albany 1/21/2022 Briana Supardi
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Just like popcorn and candy, movie theaters across New York will now be able to sell beer and wine that people can bring inside the theaters.

In a unanimous vote, the State Liquor Authority board ruled Wednesday to give cinemas the green light to apply for a new license that’ll allow them this privilege.

It comes after a January 3rd appeal from the National Association of Movie Theater Operators (NATO) arguing that movie theaters should be allowed the same privilege as other non restaurant businesses that are able to sell beer and wine.

Before this ruling, theaters who had a liquor license were only allowed to sell beer and wine that moviegoers consumed in the lobby.

Joe Masher, Bow Tie Cinemas Chief Operating Officer, says this ruling is welcoming news, adding that he believes it’s long overdue since other entertainment venues have been allowed this privilege.

Hopefully, it will lead to increase sales in the theater because we’ve still been hurting from the pandemic,” said Masher.

He says that in the past there was hesitancy among some legislators because they were afraid these drinks would be passed on to minors easily since the theaters are dark.

However, he says Bow Tie Cinemas has had no incidents of that in their theaters in other states.

The policy change takes effect immediately.

PREVIOUSLY: State of the State: Proposal makes it easier for movie theaters to sell alcohol

However, it doesn’t appeal to all theater owners.

Rich Adams, owner of Scotia Cinema, says he doesn’t believe it’s worthwhile for his single screen theater.

Before this ruling, only movie theaters that offered a restaurant menu and table service were allowed to sell their patrons beer and wine to consume inside the theater.

Madison Theater in Albany is one of those movie houses.

It’s General Manager, Kris Keisling, says these sales help the theater’s bottom line.

It’s been very beneficial to us over the course of the last two years,” said Keisling.

“It definitely adds an element where they can attract customers to still continue to come to the theaters,” he adds.

Masher says that Bow Tie Cinemas will apply for the new license immediately. In the meantime, they will continue to serve customers beer and wine in the lobby.

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