Jump to content

Montgomery County May Ease Alcohol Rules (for Restaurants)


Pool Boy
 Share

Recommended Posts

It sounds like they want to at least let the restaurants and bars have a lot more options about what they can order. MoCo can only stock so much, and so these places are hamstrung as opposed to places in DC. Maybe they have yelled long and loud enough they are finally getting some attention. Hell, it may improve the restaurant and other dining options in Bethesda and so on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe it's because DC and VA are clearly outpacing them on the restaurant scene, population growth and home prices in MD haven't risen comparatively to their neighbors.  Or maybe the times they are a changing and they are listening to the complaints.  Especially since they are really trying to revamp Silver Spring, maybe they are getting a lot of pressure from developers who would like certain names, etc.  I am sure GAR is lobbying hard for this.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SHORT STORY - Many retailers, restaurants and bars (licensees) want the ability to order and receive beer and wine directly from a distributor/importer, not from Montgomery County. Presently, the licensees must order almost all of their beer and wine from the County Department of Liquor Control (DLC).


Can you make a statement to the Montgomery County Council on July 21, 2015 at 7:30pm in the County Council Building 3rd Floor Hearing Room, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850? If so, then please call 240.777.7803 before 10am, July 21 and mention that you want to testify in favor of the ad hoc Committee's resolution on Liquor Control. The resolution can be read here.

LONG STORY - Montgomery County's alcoholic beverage laws pose some unique challenges for businesses and consumers. With some minor exceptions, licensees are required to purchase all of their beer, wine and spirits from the county's Department of Liquor Control (the DLC).

This system was largely devised in 1934 upon the repeal of Prohibition. This is how it works. The DLC has two broad categories of beer and wine. "Stock" items and "special order items". Stock items are usually widely available products which oftentimes are well known by the general public. Special order items are usually from smaller producers which are not widely known to the general public. Many licensees carry hundreds of special order items.

It is fairly easy for licensees to get stock items from the DLC. Licensees just order the products online and they get delivered. On the other hand, special order items are particularly difficult to obtain. The DLC sells the special order items to the licensees even though the DLC does not carry the special order items.The licensees must order the special order items through the DLC which then orders the item from a specialty distributor or importer. That distributor/importer then delivers the item to the DLC then the DLC marks up the price of the item by 18% to 25% and delivers it to the licensee. Note that the DLC does not pay the distributors' sales people, the DLC does not originate the business. The sales people come to the licensees or vice versa. The DLC simply receives and item and delivers it. This process usually takes at least seven days and typically takes ten or more days. Oftentimes, thanks to administrative foul-ups or miscommunication, licensees never receive the products or the products arrive weeks after they were ordered and needed.

This Byzantine process greatly impairs licensees' ability to get some great wine and beer and wine. Many excellent specialty distributors and importers simply will not work in the county. Most of the specialty importers and distributors which work in the county are weary with, and frustrated by, the challenges imposed by working through the County. Excellent sales people refuse to work in Montgomery County because of the challenges they face. Montgomery County is a graveyard for talented, dedicated and knowledgeable specialty beverage sales people. Compare this with DC or Virginia where a retailer simply contacts the distributor/importer, orders the product and the product is delivered within a day or two with no additional mark up.

Note that the County council is understandably concerned about anything which might reduce revenue. An improved and more efficient system would increase revenue for the county and for business because customers would not have the need to shop in Virginia, DC and neighboring counties.

If you want to have better selection and perhaps better prices for beer and wine in the County, then please consider testifying next week. If you don't have time to testify, can you send an e-mail to County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov with your statement.

Please contact me directly with any questions.

Justin McInerny
cell 301 300-8947

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SHORT STORY - Many retailers, restaurants and bars (licensees) want the ability to order and receive beer and wine directly from a distributor/importer, not from Montgomery County. Presently, the licensees must order almost all of their beer and wine from the County Department of Liquor Control (DLC).

Can you make a statement to the Montgomery County Council on July 21, 2015 at 7:30pm in the County Council Building 3rd Floor Hearing Room, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville, MD 20850? If so, then please call 240.777.7803 before 10am, July 21 and mention that you want to testify in favor of the ad hoc Committee's resolution on Liquor Control. The resolution can be read here.

LONG STORY - Montgomery County's alcoholic beverage laws pose some unique challenges for businesses and consumers. With some minor exceptions, licensees are required to purchase all of their beer, wine and spirits from the county's Department of Liquor Control (the DLC).

This system was largely devised in 1934 upon the repeal of Prohibition. This is how it works. The DLC has two broad categories of beer and wine. "Stock" items and "special order items". Stock items are usually widely available products which oftentimes are well known by the general public. Special order items are usually from smaller producers which are not widely known to the general public. Many licensees carry hundreds of special order items.

It is fairly easy for licensees to get stock items from the DLC. Licensees just order the products online and they get delivered. On the other hand, special order items are particularly difficult to obtain. The DLC sells the special order items to the licensees even though the DLC does not carry the special order items.The licensees must order the special order items through the DLC which then orders the item from a specialty distributor or importer. That distributor/importer then delivers the item to the DLC then the DLC marks up the price of the item by 18% to 25% and delivers it to the licensee. Note that the DLC does not pay the distributors' sales people, the DLC does not originate the business. The sales people come to the licensees or vice versa. The DLC simply receives and item and delivers it. This process usually takes at least seven days and typically takes ten or more days. Oftentimes, thanks to administrative foul-ups or miscommunication, licensees never receive the products or the products arrive weeks after they were ordered and needed.

This Byzantine process greatly impairs licensees' ability to get some great wine and beer and wine. Many excellent specialty distributors and importers simply will not work in the county. Most of the specialty importers and distributors which work in the county are weary with, and frustrated by, the challenges imposed by working through the County. Excellent sales people refuse to work in Montgomery County because of the challenges they face. Montgomery County is a graveyard for talented, dedicated and knowledgeable specialty beverage sales people. Compare this with DC or Virginia where a retailer simply contacts the distributor/importer, orders the product and the product is delivered within a day or two with no additional mark up.

Note that the County council is understandably concerned about anything which might reduce revenue. An improved and more efficient system would increase revenue for the county and for business because customers would not have the need to shop in Virginia, DC and neighboring counties.

If you want to have better selection and perhaps better prices for beer and wine in the County, then please consider testifying next week. If you don't have time to testify, can you send an e-mail to County.Council@montgomerycountymd.gov with your statement.

Please contact me directly with any questions.

Justin McInerny

cell 301 300-8947

Great post, Justin. Actually, the problems with the county are worse. They will only deliver full cases of wine or liquor. When I owned a restaurant in Chevy Chase, I had no need for a full case of Grand Marnier (too expensive, space limitations). The alternative is going to the county ABC store and buying off the shelf with a very small discount for license holders. Beer and wine are delivered on different days by different teams. The warehouse was not well run then, either. They once delivered me a case of Labatt's Canadian Ale that was more than 2 years old. The catalog has become so unwieldy that they send it out as a PDF. The special order section contains every item that has been special ordered in the last 15 years! Completely mis-classified. Chateauneuf-du-Pape was listed under Burgundy, for example. The complete lack of service is the most annoying part of the operation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's hugely frustrating. I have gotten pretty good  at navigating the labyrinth which is the DLC and I manage to get some great wines. Meanwhile, I could go on for hours with anecdote after anecdote of awful situations. If folks could make their voice heard with their county and state representatives that would be great. If changes were made at the DLC then more money would stay in Montgomery County instead of consumers buying wine, beer and spirits in DC, VA and neighboring counties. If I had a shop in northwest DC I would be opposed to any changes at the DLC.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...