Louisiana restaurants and liquor retailers can begin delivering booze directly to consumers as soon as the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control sets up a permitting process, which officials hope to have in place within a month.
Gov. John Bel Edwards signed two bills into law June 26 allowing alcohol delivery in Louisiana, but retailers and third-party delivery companies must first secure permits issued by ATC to deliver the goods. The state agency is charged with promulgating the rules surrounding alcohol delivery.
“The process usually takes months, but we applied for emergency rule promulgation,” says ATC Deputy Commissioner Ernest Legier. “We sent in the proposed rules on Friday (June 28). We hope to have something in place within the next 30 days.”
The alcohol delivery laws, house bills 349 and 508, allow restaurants and stores to deliver only beer and wine, either themselves or through a third party, as long as it’s with a food order. Liquor retailers, meanwhile, are allowed to deliver high- and low-alcohol content beverages. There are some stipulations, such as requiring the delivery person verify the recipient is of legal drinking age.
Another stipulation is that third-party delivery services must use direct employees, not contractors, to deliver alcohol, which rules out most national delivery companies. Louisiana-based Waitr is an exception, as its drivers are employees. That puts Waitr in a “unique position” to serves its restaurant customers, says CEO Chris Meaux.
“We fought strenuously for this legislation from the very beginning,” Meaux says in an email, “as our top priority is seeing our restaurant partners flourish and alcohol delivery will help increase sales for our partners.”
A national delivery service focused on alcohol, called Drizly, also advocated for the legislation. Drizly, which bills itself as the nation’s first and largest alcohol e-commerce company, used to operate in New Orleans but paused its service while state government worked out alcohol delivery rules. Drizly plans to resume service in the New Orleans area now that the law has passed, though it has no plans as of now to expand into Baton Rouge.
Alcohol delivery can help retailers not only expand their current reach but also open themselves up to a whole new market, says Jaci Flug, Drizly vice president of legal, regulatory and industry affairs. On average, more than 50% of alcohol purchases through Drizly come from customers who are new to the particular liquor store they choose.
“These days everything is being ordered online,” Flug says. “We see a lot of Thursday, Friday, Saturday night people between the hours of 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. ordering drinks and bringing the party home. We also see group orders—sometimes offices that want to order happy hour drinks. It’s also a legal way to send a gift to someone.”