Bills underscore coming together of lawmakers, hospitality industry

Annelise Demers
Posted 8/18/21

By ANNELISE DEMERS A little over a year and a half a go restaurants had to resort to take-out to stay afloat. The restaurant business became bleak when the pandemic hit and indoor dining came to a halt. Dale Venturini, president of the Rhode Island

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Bills underscore coming together of lawmakers, hospitality industry


A little over a year and a half a go restaurants had to resort to take-out to stay afloat. The restaurant business became bleak when the pandemic hit and indoor dining came to a halt.

Dale Venturini, president of the Rhode Island Hospitality Association (RIHA), has been there in the bleakest of days, looking for any way possible to keep the industry and all the jobs it means alive.

On Monday Venturini stood among legislators waiting outside Chaska restaurant in Cranston in the blazing heat for to celebrate some good news. Along with Governor Dan McKee and local legislators Venturini witnessed the signing of bills, which went into affect last month allowing restaurants to continue selling alcohol with to-go orders and stop third-party delivery services from listing businesses without their consent. The heat did deflate Venturini’s spirits. She was all smiles for the duration of the event. She has waited months just for this moment.

“While we’re fortunate that many of the COVID restrictions for businesses have been lifted, the restaurant industry in particular continues to suffer from the devastating economic impact of the last year and a half,” said Venturini. “Our restaurants are in desperate need of every cent that comes their way.”

Venturini soaked up every moment of the ceremony.

RIHA represents over 700 foodservice, hotels, vendors and hospitality members in that state of Rhode Island and has been the voice of the hospitality and foodservice industries in Rhode Island since 1963.

“As Rhode Island’s hospitality industry continues to recover, the two pieces of legislation signed into law yesterday are important steps toward our hopeful return to normalcy. The Alcohol-to-Go legislation will now continue until at least until March, and businesses are finally protected from having their products, menus, names and other properties offered by third-party delivery services without their consent,” said Venturini.

Sen. Hanna Gallo and Rep. Jacquelyn Baginski were sponsors of the to-go-alcohol bill.

“We need this industry, which includes so many treasured small business that make Rhode Island the special place that it is, to survive the pandemic. This simple extension of take-out drinks will help them stay afloat, bring in a little more revenue, and keep paying their employees and supporting our economy,” said Gallo.

The bill allows Class B liquor license holders to sell up to two bottles of wine, 144 ounces of beer, and mixed drinks in original factory sealed containers with takeout orders. It also would allow 144 ounces of draft beer or 72 ounces of mixed drinks in growlers, bottles or other sealed containers. The legislation does not apply to delivery orders.

Representatives Robert Craven, Justine Caldwell, and Carol McEntree sponsored the second bill; it prevents third-party delivery services, such as DoorDash, GrubHub, and Uber Eats from listing businesses without their consent.

“This law will ensure that the public and our small business know exactly who they are doing business with and it will bring transparency and fairness to the rapidly emerging technologies in our lives,” said Rep. Craven.

Chaska owner and host of the event, Sanjiv Dhar posted on the restaurant’s Instagram reflecting on the legislative signing ceremony.

“It was once again a great reflection of our communities strength in these turbulent times. Both pieces of legislation will be deeply impactful for small businesses in RI, especially restaurants,” said Dhar.

Although the past year has caused many challenges according to Venturini the unity in the hospitality industry has never been stronger. She spoke highly about the work not only are legislators doing to keep local restaurants alive but communities and neighbors. She adds the growing sense of unity and community across Rhode Island to her list of positives that came from the past year and a half.

“We want to thank Governor Mckee, Senators Hanna Gallo and Frank Lombardi, and Representatives Jacquelyn Baginski and Robert Craven for their support of these bills. Together as a community, we continue to accomplish the goals and meet the needs of our industry operators, partners and patrons, one step at a time,” said Venturini.

According to McKee these two bills are only one piece of the puzzle for the recovery of the hospitality industry. He also touched on a package for next years budget that he said will be centered on small business issues. Ninety-eight percent of businesses in Rhode Island are small businesses.

bills, restaurants


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