Iowa Restaurant Association wants to change state’s alcohol distribution law

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 11:49 AM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -The Iowa Restaurant Association wants to make changes to the state’s alcohol distribution laws. Iowa restaurants have very specific laws to follow when it comes to buying the alcohol they serve to customers.

”Here at Chophouse we have probably 10-15 suppliers that we purchase from because it’s so monopolized in a way that we have to go to a certain supplier to purchase certain products,” explained Ryan Avila-Burillo, Owner of Chophouse Downtown in Cedar Rapids.

Restaurants statewide, like Chophouse Downtown, are only allowed to buy beer from distributors, keeping them from being able to restock on any brews at area retail stores.

”We can’t shop around and look for the best deals,” Avila-Burillo said.

Meanwhile liquor, has to be purchased from a retail locations and cannot be distributed directly to restaurants themselves.

”We watch the state trucks deliver to the convenience store and to the pharmacy and to the grocery store but they won’t come and deliver to a restaurant or bar,” said Jessica Dunker, President of the Iowa Restaurant Association.

The group plans to introduce new legislation for consideration next session. They’re pushing to make beer and liquor distribution to restaurants the same as wine, which can be delivered through a distributor, or purchased at a store in limited quantities.

The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division says all states use a three-tier system, separating wine, liquor and beer. They say something that’s been around since the end of the prohibition. Since then, the group says Iowa has chosen to operate as the sole wholesaler for liquor.

It’s law the Iowa Restaurant Association believes is vastly outdated.

”When Prohibition as lifted in 1933 there was, there were restaurants and bars, there were not drug stores and gas stations and grocery stores selling the array of alcohol products that they are now,” Dunker explained.

Chophouse Downtown told us changing regulations would allow restaurants to look for a better deal, shop more locally, and could even mean more access to certain products to break through supply chain issues.

”Products such as our Kinky green that we put in our house cocktail the Roughrider, we can’t get that from our supplier that sells it, but it’s sitting on the shelves here at our local liquor stores,” Avila-Burillo said.

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