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Home liquor delivery could return

BY HAYLEY BRUCE | DECEMBER 09, 2010 7:10 AM

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Home liquor delivery may be resurrected.

After significant petitioning from Iowa liquor retailers — including local businesses John’s Grocery and Liquor Downtown — officials from the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division said they will not enforce action against deliverers until Iowa legislators come to a decision on what should be permitted.

“We’re working with different stakeholders to bring the issue before the Iowa legislators so they can make a policy decision about what would and would not be allowable,” said Stephen Larson, the division’s administrator.

On Sept. 29, the Alcoholic Beverages Division announced an administrative code was updated, making it illegal for stores to deliver alcohol to residences. But for now, the rule will not be enforced until the legislation is reviewed. Though the Iowa Code has always stated home alcohol delivery is illegal, an administrative code under the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division permitted it.

Fearing the loss of profit, public safety, and customer satisfaction, some Iowa City businesses met with legislators and members of the Alcoholic Beverages Division to present their concerns and help negotiate a solution.

“It keeps a lot of drunk drivers off the road and a lot of accidents from happening,” said Anthony Jones, the owner of Whateva … We Can Deliva. “So we definitely try to play our part and keep things like that from happening.”

Jones shut down his delivery business after the code changed because alcohol delivery made up 75 percent of his profits. He said he’s been working with Jason Caylor, the manager of Liquor Downtown, to speak with legislators on keeping home delivery legal.

“We’re not all about trying to make the biggest bucks from delivering,” Jones said. “We’re actually out there helping people and trying to make things better for people, and we have the government trying to step in on that, and it’s just not right.”

Jones said he plans to reopen Whateva … We Can Deliva in the coming weeks.

Local legislators indicated they do not expect liquor delivery to be banned, but regulations will be made.

“[Home delivery] has been done for quite some time, and I don’t think there has been a problem with it,” said Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City. “So what we need to do is have a discussion on whether there should be a limitation on the amount delivered.”

Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, said because the code does not explicitly say what is allowed, he believes it should remain in place.

Iowa legislators are expected to discuss the issue of home alcohol delivery once the next session begins on Jan. 10.

Jacoby said a reasonable timeline for a decision could range between 60 and 90 days, but it is unclear exactly when the new regulations would go into effect.

In the meantime, local liquor stores such as John’s Grocery are providing legislators and the Alcoholic Beverages Division with input from the business community.

“We’re really a service-oriented business — we take care of our customers,” said Wally Plahutnik, the John’s wine manager. “You build up the goodwill, and you really can squander it quickly if you tell people that you can no longer provide the service you’ve been providing for 25 years.”


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