OLCC discusses COVID Impacts to the Hospitality Industry

Advocates for Industry Support with Legislative Changes

Reaches Settlements over Social Distancing Infractions

OREGON:  The Oregon Liquor Control Commission opened its regular monthly meeting on November 19, 2020, by learning about the slump in Oregon’s brewing industry, which is similar to the impacts felt in other alcohol industry sectors and the hospitality industry as a whole.  A representative from the Oregon Brewers Guild provided an overview of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the brewing industry including: a downturn in sales, the impact of brewers transitioning to canning, and the subsequent cost increases with canning related to overall market shortages in aluminum cans.

Commissioners continued their ongoing discussion about the overall difficulties currently faced by the alcohol industry, especially the bottom-line impact of the freeze period and the issue of “cocktails-to-go.” The OLCC has updated its “Freeze Period” FAQs – find them here on the OLCC website under the COVID-19 Resources tab, click on the Business Continuity Information – Alcohol link.

OLCC alcohol licensees continue to contact staff and individual Commissioners to voice support for allowing licensed bars and restaurants to sell cocktails-to-go, which is currently prohibited by law, and requires action by the legislature to change. Commissioners Kiauna Floyd, Hugh Palcic, Matt Maletis and Jennifer Currin emphasized that the hospitality industry needs to work with Oregon legislators and fellow licensees to change the law; only then will the Commission be able to create rules giving bars and restaurants the privilege to sell cocktails-to-go.

At the same time that the Commission has been working to reduce regulatory and financial burdens on the industry, the OLCC has had to ensure that licensees are following face covering, and social distancing guidelines. That was reflected in settlement agreements with two licensees that had failed to follow those requirements, and received immediate license suspensions.

“I really liked how these were handled,” said Paul Rosenbaum, OLCC Commission Chair “I hope other licensees understand that we’re serious about the enforcement of these regulations.”

The Commission subsequently approved those two alcohol stipulated settlements.

Coos Speedway (L) in Coos Bay, engaged in activity that violated the Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) Statewide Mask, Face Shield, Face Covering Guidance issued on July 24, 2020, when it failed to require its patrons and employees to wear appropriate face masks, face shields, or face coverings at the premises. The licensee has accepted responsibility and has agreed to serve a 33 day suspension and pay $2,475 civil penalty, in addition to the time served under the order of immediate suspension which ran from August 20, 2020, to October 7, 2020. Licensee is Hwy 42, LLC; Drake Nelson, Managing Member; Kimberly Nelson, Member.

Top of the Bowl (F-COM) in Drain, engaged in activity that violated the Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) Statewide Mask, Face Shield, Face Covering Guidance issued on July 24, 2020, when it failed to require its patrons and employees to wear appropriate face masks, face shields, or face coverings at the premises. In addition, Licensee engaged in activity that violated OHA’s Phase Two Reopening Guidance for Restaurants and Bars, issued on July 24, 2020, when parties of patrons were not required to maintain at least six (6) feet distance between one another; employees failed to maintain at least six (6) feet distance from patrons while taking orders or providing services; and frequent disinfecting of touch points was not implemented. The licensee has accepted responsibility and has agreed to serve a 50 day suspension in addition to the time served under the order of immediate suspension which ran from September 29, 2020 to November 19, 2020. Licensee is Top of the Bowl, LLC, and Jamie Hennricks, Managing Member.

The Commission also approved one alcohol stipulated settlement licensing agreement.

Craving Cave (F-COM) in Ashland, since 2015, Applicant has been convicted of seven motor vehicle violations. In the absence of a restriction, the violations would provide a basis for denial of the F-COM application. Under the proposed settlement agreement, Applicant agrees to accept a restriction on the license, stating that Applicant will not be convicted of driving while suspended, driving uninsured, operating a vehicle without driving privileges, driving in violation of restrictions, or a similar conviction, in the State of Oregon or in any other state. Applicant is Cravingcave, LLC; Adrian Gonzalez Hernandez, Managing Member.