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Movie fans rejoice as NYC cinemas granted booze rights

The New York State Liquor Authority has ruled that cinemas can now sell wine and beer without having to hold a restaurant license.

A unanimous vote on Wednesday resulted in a new ruling which allows wine, beer and cider to be served in cinemas as long as the booze isn’t the business’s “prime source of revenue.”

Previously, cinemas in New York City could only sell alcohol if they had a restaurant or tavern license, and only then if drinks were delivered directly to a customer’s seat or table via a server.

The board was urged to approve the measure after members of the National Association of Movie Theatre Owners argued that their industry should be granted the same drinks-serving privileges that other non-restaurant spaces businesses such as hair salons and art studios have.

“The SLA’s Full Board voted to issue a Declaratory Ruling that under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, businesses operating movie theatres are eligible to apply for a tavern-wine or restaurant-wine license, without the need for a restaurant menu and table service, provided that alcoholic beverage sales are incidental to their operations as a movie theatre,” the State Liquor Authority said in an official statement announcing the news.

The change is effective immediately. However, delays in obtaining the relevant license may mean some cinemas won’t be able to action the new development for some months.

Sales of hard liquor are still not sanctioned in New York unless cinemas have a restaurant license and serve drinks directly to the customers in their seat.

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