My Turn: Alcohol detection technology goes too far 

Monday, December 29, 2014 2:14:00 PM

Source: Concord Monitor


December 23, 2014


Santa was in trouble and time was ticking. His sleigh wouldn't start. He was stuck on a roof in Concord. The reindeer were getting nervous.


"We've got to be in Canada in a half an hour," said Rudolph.


Suddenly, it dawned on Santa: "That glass of eggnog must have tripped the new, federally mandated alcohol sensor on my sleigh! Call a cab, Rudolph."


"Alcohol sensor?" Rudolph cried. "Who will deliver presents to the world's little boys and girls now?"


Fortunately for the children of Concord, installing an in-sleigh alcohol detection device is a daunting technological feat. But ordinary, car-driving Americans could face Santa's predicament over and over again if Congress allocates millions more in federal funding to the development of this in-car alcohol detection technology.


You see, one of the first items on the new Congress's agenda is the passage of a new federal highway bill, which activists hope will dedicate substantial funding for a government program called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, or DADDS. Unlike the current interlocks installed on the cars of many convicted drunken drivers, this system would use passive breath- or touch-based measurement devices to require every driver to prove his or her sobriety before the vehicle will start.


For years, automakers and the federal government have poured millions of dollars (including millions of your tax dollars) into DADSS research in the hopes of making these devices standard in all new vehicles. More funding from Congress in 2015 would allow these engineers to reach that goal even faster.


A car that's capable of determining if you're drunk just by touching your steering wheel might seem far-fetched, but the future is closer than you might think. Last Christmas, DADSS was just entering a new phase of development aimed at refining the technology for integration into vehicles.


Now, the Deputy Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is naming DADSS a top priority on the agency's safety agenda. NTSHA is accordingly requesting almost $5.6 million in 2015 to reach its goal of widespread adoption more quickly.


Don't be fooled by assurances that the technology would be voluntary. NHTSA and fervent DADSS supporters like Mothers Against Drunk Driving have freely admitted that the "longer term goal is DADSS in every vehicle." Just this year, MADD National President Jan Withers stated: "I hope to see DADSS becoming standard someday." If we could be sure that these devices would be set at the current 0.08 blood-alcohol concentration limit, the technology wouldn't be quite as troubling. Unfortunately, that's not the case.


Due to legal and liability reasons, these devices will have to be set much lower than the legal limit - a fact that the program's manager has conceded. That's because a person's BAC continues to rise even after they've stopped drinking. If you quickly consume a drink or two before getting behind the wheel, your BAC could be only 0.02 or 0.03. As you drive, however, your BAC could easily rise well above the 0.08 legal limit. Should you then cause an accident, the victim would be able to sue the car's manufacturer.


To avoid liability, these factory-installed devices will have to be set well below 0.08 - possibly as low as 0.02 or 0.03, the level an average-sized man reaches after one drink. Hence, Santa's getting stuck on the rooftop after a single glass of eggnog.


NHTSA told Consumer Reports that DADSS "has the potential to be in vehicles within this decade." That means that while Santa's sleigh won't get stuck in the North Pole this holiday, Concord might have just a few more Christmases left before he will.


(Sarah Longwell is managing director of the American Beverage Institute.)

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What the restaurant business can expect in 2015 

Monday, December 29, 2014 2:12:00 PM

Source: NRN

Jonathan Maze



The restaurant industry looks poised for higher sales and profits in 2015, thanks to falling prices for gas and food and an economy that finally appears to be accelerating after years of painfully slow growth.


The profits should keep elevated the values restaurant chains can fetch on the public markets, which should continue to provide incentives for companies to go public while limiting the number of leveraged buyouts.


That doesn't mean that buyers will shy away from the industry, as a merger-and-acquisition market fueled by low-cost debt should continue to generate plenty of buying and selling. Don't expect, however, anything along the lines of the $11.4 billion purchase of Tim Hortons Inc. by Burger King Worldwide Inc. that stood as the hallmark of 2014.


These are the conclusions of various experts Nations Restaurant News interviewed as the industry looks ahead to 2015. Taken together, predictions point to an industry in growth mode, but not one without risks in the new year.


Improving sales


Many observers believe the industry could see strong sales growth in 2015. The only question is how much.


Larry Miller, co-founder of the NRN-MillerPulse restaurant tracking survey, said that annual restaurant same-store sales should finish at an increase of 1.8 percent in 2014. He's expecting just over a 2-percent increase in 2015.


The biggest difference between the two years? The comparisons are easy in January and February of 2015, because sales were terrible those two months this year thanks to difficult winter weather across most of the U.S. Still, easy comparisons aside, Miller also anticipates that guest traffic will increase next year, albeit slightly.


"Are trends getting better? Yeah," he said. "Is it a slow trip? Yeah."


That 2-percent same-store sales prediction is similar to some other prognostications. The debt rating agency Fitch Ratings, for instance, expects restaurant industry same-store sales to increase an average of 2 percent to 3 percent in 2015, with slight growth in guest traffic. And Chicago consulting firm Technomic is forecasting a 3-percent growth in same-store sales for the restaurant industry, though that's an early figure and could well be revised, the company said.


Put simply, many expect moderate growth.


The restaurant industry is largely saturated in the U.S., and there are many other dining options for those who don't want to cook at home - convenience stores, pharmacies and grocery stores have each beefed up prepared food options. Ikea and Costco operate lucrative restaurants within their giant retail outlets.


"I'm not sure [in the] next five years that we'll see a gangbusters year," said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic. "We'll have slow to moderate growth."


Still, lower gas prices should provide some fuel for the industry, as consumers will have a bit more money in their pockets after filling up. Brad Swanson, head of restaurant investment banking for KeyBanc Capital Markets, estimated that lower gas prices should be like an $800 annual stimulus per family.


Lower gas prices might already be affecting restaurant sales. Mark Kalinowski, securities analyst at Janney Capital Markets, said the fourth quarter is turning out to be the best quarter of 2014 for domestic restaurant same-store sales.


"The reason is simple," he said. "Over and over we hear from operators that, whenever their customers go to fill up their truck, it used to cost $60, now it costs $40. They go home and tell their wife and children, 'We're going out to eat.'


"You only need a little bit of your customer base saying that for it to have an effect," Kalinowski said.


Lower commodity costs, higher labor


Rising sales might also come at a time when food costs are falling.


The costs for many commodities - cheese, chicken, wheat, pork and others - are expected to come down in 2015, after spiking in 2014, thanks to lower prices for corn used in feed and gas used for transport, according to Denver-based food cooperative SpenDifference. The exception is beef, which is expected to continue a run of record high pricing for at least two more years. In 2015, beef cost is expected to increase between 4 percent and 8 percent.


Even with that continued surge in beef, most chains could offset that uptick and still lower overall food costs in 2015, said DeWayne Dove, vice president of risk management at SpenDifference. Cheese, for instance, was up almost 19 percent in 2014, and is expected to decrease 23 percent in 2015.


Dove said his company's brands should see decreases in their total food costs of between 1 percent and 2 percent. Among those that serve a lot of beef, total food costs are expected to be flat from 2014.


Still, while food costs may decrease, higher labor costs in 2015 could offset that gain, as rising minimum wages in many states and the Affordable Care Act take center stage next year.


"A lot of smaller and mid-sized chains are just now coming to grips with the impact of the ACA on their financials," said Dave Schnitt, CEO of IQ BackOffice, which automates back-office functions for many businesses, including restaurants. His company has seen a "surge" of business late in 2014, and Schnitt believes it's due to chains preparing for additional health care costs.


Rising valuations, shifting M&A


Rising sales and easing commodities have helped restaurant stocks heading into 2015, and a number of analysts are bullish heading into the new year.


Janney Capital's Kalinowski, for one, says he has Buy recommendations on most of the 16 restaurant chains he covers. "That pretty much speaks for itself," he said.


"It's not like everything is rosy," he added. "But on some important fronts, it's better."


The higher valuations should continue a shift in the mergers-and-acquisition market that started last year, as more restaurant companies are going public rather than selling to private equity groups. 


Public investors are paying high valuations for restaurant brands, KeyBanc's Swanson said, especially smaller, growth chains - and that's attracting more companies to the equity markets. He believes as many as six or eight restaurant brands could go public in the next 12-18 months.


Swanson also expects fewer leveraged buyouts of publicly traded restaurant companies. Many are valued at well past 10 times to earnings - generally the limit that private equity groups are willing to pay. And federal regulators are pressuring banks to limit lending on those deals to 6 times to earnings. That gap is tough to fill, Swanson said. 


"That puts a little more pressure on private equity to pick and choose buyouts," Swanson said.


None of this is to say there won't be deals in 2015. Debt is still cheap and readily available, and multiples are high, which could bring sellers out of the woodwork. Companies are being pressured to spin off divisions - sources say Darden Restaurants Inc., for instance, could spin off its Specialty Restaurant Group and Bob Evans Farms Inc., could sell its packaged foods division.


On the flip side, restaurant companies may continue adding brands in 2015 - Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. has shown a willingness to buy small growth concepts like PizzaRev and Rusty Taco, while DineEquity Inc. has said it is looking for a third concept to its Applebee's and IHOP chains.


Swanson expects such deals to be small, however. In other words: Don't expect another Burger King-Tim Horton deal.


"You'll see public companies that are starting to slow down give it a little juice by adding a second or third concept," Swanson said.  "But they'll be more small, up-and-coming brands that could fit well in a larger, maturing company. I don't think there will be the big, mega-transaction."

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Congress gives restaurants temporary tax relief 

Monday, December 29, 2014 2:04:00 PM

Source: NRA

December 17, 2014


Congress' passage of a bill to renew four tax provisions that stand to have a direct impact on restaurant operations was a welcome relief after a year of uncertainty.


But unfortunately, the move only provides a temporary fix. While President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law soon,  the tax provisions-commonly known as "tax extenders"-were renewed only for 2014 and will expire again when the year ends.


"While we are relieved by the Senate's action and Congress' decision to retroactively renew these key tax extenders and appreciate the members of Congress who secured this outcome, a return to the uncertainty surrounding taxes that has persisted over the past year is unfortunately only weeks away," said Scott DeFife, National Restaurant Association executive vice president of policy and government affairs. "This uncertainty is causing restaurateurs across the country to postpone decisions that would help them expand their business and create jobs."


Included in the bill were four of the NRA's tax priorities:


15-year depreciation schedule: This allows restaurant operators to depreciate the cost of certain renovations, improvements, and new construction over 15 years. Had the bill not passed, any projects launched in 2014 would have been depreciated over 39.5 years.  


Work Opportunity Tax Credit: Businesses will be able to claim tax credits of $2,400 to $5,600 for hiring employees from demographic groups who historically have a hard time finding employment.


Enhanced charitable food donation: All restaurants can utilize this deduction to help offset some of the costs of storing and transporting food they're donating to charity.


Section 179 expensing: Restaurants and other businesses can qualify for up to $500,000 in new deductions if they financed less than $2 million worth of new or used business equipment, software and qualified real property in 2014. Without the renewal, the deduction would have been capped at $25,000.


Legislation to permanently extend of these four provisions is one of the NRA's top advocacy priorities for 2015.


Congress has historically renewed tax extenders with little fanfare, but dysfunction and gridlock over the past two years put renewal on the back burner until the final days of business for both houses of Congress.

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FDA to Require Menus to List Calorie Counts for Alcohol (Additional Coverage) 

Monday, December 29, 2014 2:00:00 PM

Source: ABC 40

December 17th, 2014


Don't want to be confronted with the number of calories in that margarita or craft beer? Then avoid the menu and order at the bar.


New menu labeling rules from the Food and Drug Administration will require chain restaurants with 20 or more outlets to list the amount of calories in alcoholic drinks, along with other foods, on menus by next November. The idea is that people often don't know - or even think about - how many calories they are imbibing.


But the rules don't apply to drinks ordered at the bar or any drinks that aren't listed on the main menu. The wine list will also be guilt-free - individual calorie amounts aren't required there either. And unlike other beverages and foods, most bottles and cans don't have to list full nutritional information.


After years of lobbying for more nutritional information on alcoholic beverages, public health advocates say the menu labeling rules are a first step.


"Alcoholic beverages are a key contributor to the calories Americans are consuming, and most of the time when people have a drink they have absolutely no idea what its caloric impact is," says Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Her group petitioned the government more than a decade ago to require that bottles and cans be labeled with robust nutritional information.


The FDA's proposed menu labeling rules in 2011 exempted alcohol. But FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said the agency decided to include it in the final rules this year after those who commented on the rule were largely in favor of such labeling because of its potential impact on public health.


The beer, wine and spirits industries objected, arguing that they were regulated by the Treasury Department, not the FDA, a setup that dates back to Prohibition. Treasury's oversight, which includes minimal input from FDA, has "well served the consuming public," a coalition of alcohol groups wrote in a 2011 comment asking to be left out of the menu labeling rules.


The new rules are designed to not be too burdensome for the alcohol industries or restaurants. Endless combinations of mixed drinks won't have to be labeled at bars, unless they are listed on a menu, and the FDA is allowing restaurants to use estimates of calories and ranges of calories without listing the exact amount in every different drink. That means menus will list the average amount of calories in a glass of red or white wine, but won't list calories by every brand of wine on the wine list. Same with beers and spirits.


So every winery or craft brewery won't have to pay to have their products' nutritional content analyzed - for now, at least.


The labeling rules have "more of an indirect effect on our business," says Wendell Lee of the California-based Wine Institute. Lee says brand-specific menu calorie labels could be especially burdensome on the wine industry, where every vintage and varietal is different.


Craft brewers, with many varied brands and styles, have similar concerns.


The regulations "could have a slight chilling effect" on small breweries if some restaurants decide to go beyond them and list calories for individual beers, said Paul Gatza of the Brewers Association, which represents craft breweries.


The rules could have advantages too, he said.


"The more customers know about a brewery, the more they feel connected with it," Gatza said.


Off the menu, labeling rules appear further away.


For years, most alcohol companies have tried to put off mandatory bottle and can nutrition labeling as public health advocates have fought for it. Rules proposed in 2007 would have made such labels mandatory, but the FDA never made the rules final.


Last year, Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau said for the first time that beer, wine and spirits companies could use labels that include serving size, servings per container, calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat per serving. The labels are voluntary and will likely be used mostly by liquor companies touting low calories and low carbohydrates in their products.


Current labeling law for bottles and cans is complicated.


Wines containing 14 percent or more alcohol by volume must list alcohol content. Wines that are 7 percent to 14 percent alcohol by volume may list alcohol content or put "light" or "table" wine on the label. "Light" beers must list calorie and carbohydrate content. Liquor must list percent alcohol content by volume and may also list proof, a measure of alcoholic strength.


Wine, beer and liquor manufacturers don't have to list ingredients but must list substances people might be sensitive to, such as sulfites, certain food colorings and aspartame.


Tom Hogue of the Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau said the current goal is to make sure that companies that want to label may do so, and that labeling is consistent. It is important that labels "don't mislead the consumer," he said.

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Monday, December 15, 2014 5:29:00 PM

Source: ABL



Following the release of a recent literature review by researchers associated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a couple media outlets have reported that reducing the number of bars, restaurants and liquors stores could lessen incidents of domestic violence.


Licensing retail beverage alcohol businesses is a complex topic that should be discussed and decided by all stakeholders, including existing local hospitality businesses.  Licensed establishments presently serving their communities have built their businesses on legitimate licensing rules and guidelines already implemented and supported by elected officials and regulators. 


The 21st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives states the right to determine what alcohol sales and distribution laws are best for their citizens, and state-based regulators are mindful of alcohol-related societal issues.


Local community leaders, law enforcement and hospitality businesses frequently collaborate to address issues instead of indiscriminately shutting down law-abiding businesses that are a part of the social fabric of the community.  Many cities and towns also rely on beverage licensees to anchor social entertainment districts that create vibrant neighborhoods, attract commerce and boost local economies.


Mischaracterizations about licensed businesses that currently operate in a heavily-regulated industry and specialize in selling age-restricted products - often in age-restricted settings - do not take into account local beverage alcohol culture and customs; ignore effective long-standing policies for responsible sales and service; and unjustly disparage hundreds of thousands of law-abiding hospitality businesses that employ millions of Americans.


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A Shot with a Training Chaser: New Training Requirements for Alcohol Servers in Cook County 

Monday, December 15, 2014 5:25:00 PM

Thursday, December 11, 2014

An amendment to the Illinois Liquor Control Act (the Act), effective July 15, 2015, imposes new training requirements for various individuals involved in the sale and serving of alcohol in Cook County. Under the new law, all alcohol servers must complete Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training (BASSET) by July 1, 2015, or within 120 days after the alcohol server begins employment, whichever is later.

The Act defines an "alcohol server" as a person who sells or serves open containers of alcoholic beverages at retail locations. Any individual whose job description requires the checking of identification for the purchase of open-container alcoholic beverages at retail locations or anyone whose job description requires the same for entry into a licensed premises must also complete the required training. Once issued, the alcohol server's training certificate is valid for three years and belongs to the server. Servers may transfer the certificate to a different employer, but it may not be transferred between servers.

Most employers are expected to require their servers to obtain their certificates on their own time and at their own expense, much like requiring that an individual possess a valid CDL in order to work as a truck driver. Some employers, however, may reimburse employees for the cost of the training, provided the employee agrees to repay the employer if he or she leaves his or her job within a certain period of time. Employers should also be mindful of the fact that attendance at training programs such as this may be counted as working time under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Illinois state law if certain restrictions are placed on the training prerequisite. For example, if an employer requires a server to attend BASSET training during working hours or attend a specific program, the employer may then have to pay the employee for the time spent in training. Of course, to accomplish timely compliance with BASSET, a restaurant or bar may want to schedule an in-house training session during work hours and pay employees for the time spent in training.

Enforcement of the new certification requirement is limited to education and notification of the certification requirement—with the aim of encouraging compliance—between July 15, 2015 and December 31, 2015. It is unclear at this time what sanctions will be imposed for noncompliance after December 31, 2015.

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City to delay video gambling decision 

Monday, December 15, 2014 5:21:00 PM

Tavern owner speak on opposition to fee

By Linda N. Weller

ALTON — City aldermen will postpone a vote to set a surcharge on video gaming machines until January, and in the meantime, meet with concerned tavern owners.

At Monday’s meeting of the Committee of the Whole, aldermen voted to table the resolution and its amendment setting an annual, $500 fee per machine until next month

Alderman Jim Ryan, 1st Ward, said since the council is meeting in back-to-back weeks this month, there would not be time for tavern owners to talk with aldermen. The Open Meetings Act limits the private meetings to two aldermen at a time.

Despite the vote to table the resolution for later consideration, three tavern owners still spoke in opposition to a tax on the machines.

“It is a very big concern of ours,” said Michael Paynic, owner of Bubby and Sissy’s, 602 Belle St. “I’m down 30 to 35 percent. I’ve been going down the last two to three years, but things have gotten good about seven months ago. My income is alright.” He said implementation of a $500 fee on each of the bar’s machines, though, would be “drastic” and noted that this month bar owners must pay for their 2015 liquor licenses.

“This is not a get-rich scheme for us, we are just trying to keep our business going,” he said.

Mac Lenhardt, owner of Time Out Lounge at 315 Belle St., concurred, and also said he discovered such surcharges at area home rule towns run from $25 to $250 per machine.

Kent Wiese, of the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association and the Madison County Licensed Beverage Association, listed the various breakdowns of taxing entities and others that get a cut from the machines’ revenues.

He said bars and restaurants already are suffering from effects of the smoking ban, possibly reflected in increased packaged liquor sales. He said the businesses also may face effects of a “sugar” tax, satellite television tax and higher

He said bars and restaurants already are suffering from effects of the smoking ban, possibly reflected in increased packaged liquor sales. He said the businesses also may face effects of a “sugar” tax, satellite television tax and higher minimum wage.

“The beverage and food industry is taking hits,” said Wiese, owner of Corner Keg tavern in Highland.

In another tax issue, the committee tentatively recommended a proposed, 2014 property tax levy of $6,882,887, 4.9 percent more than the 2013 levy of $6,561,379, even after abating levies on three bond issues.

Following is a breakdown of the levy, with 2013 amounts in parenthesis: Municipal band, $52,000 ($52,000); General Fund, $2,128,318 ($2,008,234); Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, $540,941 ($515,673); FICA, $398,450 ($379,838); Police Pension, $1,779,315 ($1,696,200); Fire Pension, $1,593,413 ($1,518,983); Bond Issue 2006A, $390,450 ($390,450).

The proposed levy’s increase does not necessarily equate to the same rise in property taxes next year. The Madison County Clerk will set the tax rate next spring, which depends on equalized assessed valuations of properties in the city. If the overall property values rise, the tax rate will be lower; conversely, it would rise if the values decline.

Aldermen will vote on the levy and abatement resolutions Wednesday night, then approve them in ordinance form next week.

In other business, the committee recommended officials sign an agreement with Illinois Department of Transportation affirming that the non-public, right-of-way portion of the Bridge West Beautification Project would be dedicated to transportation use for at least 20 years.

The project, at the southwest corner of Landmarks Boulevard and West Broadway, will include landscaping, plantings and panels in a scaled-down, flood memorial. Greg Caffey, Alton director of development and housing, told the committee he hopes the work can go out for bid in March.

Another resolution the panel recommended passing at Wednesday’s Council meeting allows officials to sign an intergovernmental agreement establishing another Riverbend Enterprise Zone. As with the first one, it would be overseen by Madison County. It will have the same municipalities and boundaries as the original zone. Caffey said the state revised requirements, so all of them have to reapply for approval.

The Riverbend zone includes parts of Alton, Bethalto, East Alton, Hartford, Roxana, South Roxana, Wood River and Madison County.

Other resolutions that won a positive recommendation would allow the city: to sign another agreement with Southwestern Illinois Law Enforcement Commission to continue providing training to police officers and jailers. The agreement says Belleville-based SILEC would offer discounted prices for the training. Aldermen previously would not approve a resolution allowing officials to sign an agreement with West Central Illinois Criminal Justice Council (Mobile Training Unit 9); and pursue the legal process to demolish structure at 3211 Franor St.

Alderman Gary Fleming, 6th Ward, abstained from voting on the SILEC resolution, as he serves on its board.


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Celebrate the 81st Anniversary of the End of Prohibition  

Friday, December 12, 2014 7:27:00 AM

Today marks the ratification of the 21st Amendment and the creation of a new marketplace

Bethesda, MD - December 5, 2014 - Beverage licensees today are celebrating the 81st anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment, which repealed Prohibition in the United States and opened new legal access to the beverage alcohol market. The repeal of the 18th Amendment led to a three-tier system that gives consumers faith in the integrity of beverage alcohol products and unprecedented access to a vast variety of beer, wine and spirits.

 Implemented in 1920 and referred to as "The Great Experiment", Prohibition made it illegal to produce, distribute, and sell alcohol for thirteen years. In 1933, the nationwide ban was lifted and 81 years later, America's beer, wine and spirits retailers continue to celebrate their critical role in the most diverse and innovative beverage retail marketplace in the world.

 Independent retail beverage licensees - be they bars, taverns or package stores - conduct face-to-face sales of some of the most recognizable brands and products in the world. These locally-owned businesses are part of an American retail beverage alcohol marketplace that supports more than 4.5 million jobs, creates more than $245 billion in economic activity, and pays more than $36 billion in federal, state, and local taxes.

 "The 21st Amendment allowed Americans to enjoy a drink responsibly, whether at home with family or at a local bar watching a football game with friends," said John Bodnovich, ABL's Executive Director. "Thanks to the accountability of licensed producers, distributors and retailers, today's consumers do so without fear of bootlegged products."

 In addition to repealing the 18th Amendment and Prohibition, the 21st Amendment included a second section that laid the groundwork for state-level regulation of alcohol and separate tiers of the beverage alcohol industry. This three-tier system has proven invaluable in the marketplace and is complemented by the limited but important role of the federal government when it comes to certain beverage alcohol issues.

 "Over the last 81 years, we've seen a growing beverage alcohol market with American small-business success stories at all tiers of the system," said Bodnovich. "The lessons learned from the failure of Prohibition are still relevant to this day, and are not taken for granted by licensed beverage retailers who understand the importance of their role in maintaining a vibrant and reliable marketplace for their customers."

 American Beverage Licensees and its state affiliates throughout the country encourage everyone to remember the legacy of Prohibition this December 5 and hoist a glass to toast a uniquely American holiday.

 American Beverage Licensees is the preeminent national trade association for beverage alcohol retailers. Direct retail beverage alcohol sales in the United States generate as many as 1.77 million well-paying jobs. ABL’s thousands of on-premise and off-premise licensee members are independent and often family-owned establishments. The beverage retailing industry pays over $19.3 billion in federal taxes and $16.9 billion in state and local taxes. To learn more about ABL, visit


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Belly up to the bar: Alcohol sales expected to improve modestly in 2015 

Friday, December 12, 2014 7:23:00 AM


Dec. 4, 2014

Drink sales in bars and restaurants are projected to grow modestly in 2015, according to new research from Technomic. The market research firm says conditions at major chain restaurants that serve alcohol are slowly improving, and greater consumer confidence will lead to a more positive trend than seen in 2014.

Technomic's BarTAB Report and Adult Beverage Insights Group expect consumer expenditures on alcohol away from home to rise 2.7 percent next year, a slightly greater increase than is expected for alcohol expenditures at retail.   

 "Conditions are improving, and with lower gas prices and better consumer confidence, we're continuing to see positive movement in consumer spending away from home," VP David Henkes said in a news release. "However, there's still a lot of lost ground to make up relative to how the industry was performing prior to the recession."

In looking at specific adult beverage categories in on-premise channels, Technomic finds the largest category - beer -- challenged in terms of volume. BarTAB Report outlines sales growth of 2.3 percent for beer in 2015, lower than the projections for wine and spirits.

 "Craft beer, cider and imports are generally doing well at the bar, but domestic beer, which accounts for nearly half of on-premise beer sales, continues to lose share," said Technomic's Director of Research Eric Schmidt.

 Wine is expected to achieve the highest sales growth rate of the three adult beverage categories, with spirits a close second.

 Despite the positive projection, alcohol sales are still expected to lag broader restaurant and bar sales, due to fairly flat volume. The bar and club segment - which generates two-fifths of alcohol sales - is expected to underperform.

 "Dollar growth is driven largely by price increases and gains in certain categories such as craft beer and whiskeys including bourbon, Irish and single malt Scotch," Henkes said.

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Chicago Approves Minimum Wage Hike, Hospitality Industry Reacts 

Friday, December 05, 2014 9:43:00 AM
by Matt Alderton | December 03, 2014 The Windy City just got a lot windier for the hospitality industry, as the Chicago City Council yesterday passed a new ordinance that will raise the minimum wage for Chicago workers to $10 per hour within seven months, $11 per hour by 2017, and, finally, $13 per hour by 2019. Sponsored by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the measure is projected to increase the earnings for approximately 410,000 Chicago workers, inject $860 million into the local economy, and lift 70,000 workers out of poverty. "A higher minimum wage ensures that nobody who works in the City of Chicago will ever struggle to reach the middle class or be forced to raise their child in poverty," Emanuel said in a statement. "Today, Chicago has shown that our city is behind a fair working wage." The hospitality industry, which opposes the measure, isn't so certain of its merits. "A $13-an-hour starting wage may be well-intentioned but it would harm Chicago's vibrant hospitality industry, including its restaurant, tourism, and convention business," said Scott DeFife, executive vice president of policy and government affairs for the National Restaurant Association (NRA). This week, the NRA co-published a study with the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), showing that a $13 minimum wage would eliminate more than 11,600 jobs. "Study after study has shown the negative effects of increasing the minimum wage too high and too fast," said Brian Crawford, vice president of government and political affairs for AH&LA. "Ultimately, these wage increases hurt those who they are intended to help. As an industry, our sector has been the bright spot in the economy, but these kinds of wage increases will hamper our industry's ability to offer good jobs with benefits to those seeking an opportunity and a path to a lifelong career."
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