Cinema-goers in New York can now grab a bottle of wine or beer while watching the latest flick in theatres.
According to a State Liquor Authority ruling earlier this week, cinemas can now serve wine and beer at concession stands and movie-goers are allowed to take their drinks into the theater for the show. In contrast, previously, theaters could only sell alcoholic drinks if they had a restaurant license with a full kitchen and waitstaff to bring the alcohol to customers in their seats, or a tavern license that limited drinking to a table, often in the lobby.
Under the new rule, cinemas serving just popcorn and other snacks can now also sell wine, beer, and cider as long as it isn’t the businesses’ “prime source of revenue.” Hard liquor sales are still not permitted unless they have a restaurant license and serve the drinks at the moviegoer’s seat.
On Wednesday, the board approved 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 nonrestaurant businesses, including hair salons, art studios, and retail spaces have.
The change has gone into effect immediately, but the board has said it could be months before movie buffs see alcohol at their local theaters due to the licensing process.