Talking With Crystal Stump about Delivering Alcohol, during COVID-19

Crystal Stump talked with Patrick Evans-Hylton on Virginia Eats & Drinks radio show, recently; here is the discussion about delivering alcohol, during the COVID-19 pandemic!

Crystal Stump was interviewed by Patrick Evans-Hylton and we’d like to give a Big Shout Out for being able to deliver timely information and answer questions that are affecting Virginia restaurants. 

There probably hasn’t been as much change in the world of alcohol beverages since the days of prohibition and as much, there hasn’t been as much confusion. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel…because of ABC Consulting. Crystal Stump is CEO and Senior Consultant at ABC Consulting.  While still in high school, Ms. Stump began working for the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (VA ABC) Enforcement Division as an Under Age Buyer. This position made her responsible for testing licensed establishments by attempting to make purchases of alcohol. After high school she attended Bluefield College, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology. Since college, she has attended Law Enforcement Academy, become a Special Agent for the Enforcement Division of VA ABC and 10 years ago, she opened the doors to ABC Consulting. Now, ABC Consulting continues to work with folks in the hospitality industry.

These are unprecedented times and it is just crazy for the restaurant industry, right now. We love the restaurant community and my whole goal when I left the Alcohol Beverage Control (over a decade ago) was to be able to bring my knowledge and my expertise to the licensing community. So we help: from licensing to state-certified alcohol training to navigating an MBAR to making sure that MBARs are compliant and submitted on time to helping prepare for a hearing to negotiating a settlement with VA ABC Authority violations – we are here to help and to navigate those very unknown waters, for some businesses.

Yes, there is a lot of paperwork and time that goes into a license. The average turnaround and approval time for a Virginia License is about 45 days (because there is a 30-day objection period) and during that time, we work diligently to get all the paperwork necessary and submitted correctly to get it approved in a timely manner.

The current COVID-19 crisis has changed so many things for our restaurants. The obvious – the businesses aren’t able to provide service in their dining room. I have many clients that have decided to close down; I have a lot of clients that are continuing to operate with curbside pickup and delivery. I do have several clients that are, at least, breaking even, on their daily sales – and I admire those that are hustling, delivering outside their immediate area, advertising on all the social-media outlets and pushing their brand and their wonderful products. I admire the Virginia restaurants working hard to get through this. I do believe that it will go back to ‘normal,’ eventually, but until then – ABC Consulting has to remain cheerleaders for all these businesses that are trying to stay open.

I never dreamed of businesses in Virginia being able to sell mixed drinks To Go – and I even joked about it when all the changes started happening – but here we are selling mixed drinks, by delivery. It is amazing. 

ABC Consulting can help navigate the rapidly changing landscape regarding beer, wine, spirits and mixed beverage changes. We stay abreast of any changes from the Virginia ABC Authority. And the changes have been happening rapidly. We would create a video on Monday; by Wednesday there would be new changes for restaurants. We will continue to create flyers, YouTube videos and post very regularly on social media sites to keep our clients and businesses up with the changes. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow our blog for the latest changes.

Please keep in mind that these changes (that are allowing businesses to sell beer, wine, and mixed-beverages ToGo) are approved in this time of crisis – during this executive order, but if your business want to continue sell wine and beer by delivery, Curbside or Togo, after this pandemic crisis is over, you are going to have to have proper licensing, for that. We’ve been able to help businesses obtain permanent off-premises and delivery permit licensing so that when these businesses do open back up and this executive order is lifted, they will still be able to cater to their client’s needs and have the proper permitting and license to do that.

Some of the interesting things, from a consumer’s standpoint, are restrictions on the mixed beverages:

  • You are limited to 16 ounces
  • You are limited to 2, per meal order
  • The mixed drinks need to be sold in a glass, paper or plastic container with a secure lid or cap – if there is a straw hole in the top, it needs to be taped up or saran wrapped, entirely, so that there is no access to the beverage.

When this pandemic is over, will we still be able to deliver mixed beverages? I would like it to be – I think this is a good, controlled experiment. As it stands, we are controlling it, it is working well, and consumers and restaurants are being responsible. YES, once the genie is out of the bottle, it is hard to put it back.  

The last thing I want to discuss that is affecting the licensed community: Skilled Gaming.  There is discussion that the governor of Virginia is overturning the ban on Skilled Gaming. If he overturns that decision, Skilled Gaming will be allowed in alcohol-licensed establishments, through July of 2021. If the decision is overturned, there will be a $1,200 a month tax on the operators of the machines (not the establishment) that will be going towards the COVID-19 Relief Fund, once the pandemic is over and businesses re-open.

It is a brave-new world with lots of changes. Let’s raise a glass to that.

*Disclaimer: This article and its contents represent the opinions of the author only. It is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice. ABC Consulting is a private consulting firm, and in no way do we represent the VA Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority. You should not act upon any such information without seeking qualified professional advice based upon your situation.

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