Governor Dan McKee signed two bills aimed at assisting the local restaurant industry. The first bill permits restaurants to continue offering alcohol with to-go orders, while the second prevents third-party providers such as Grubhub, Uber Eats, and DoorDash from listing a restaurant on their website without the business’s approval. Small businesses and locally-owned restaurants are crucial to Rhode Island’s economy, according to McKee, who emphasized that the state could only prosper if small businesses do well.
During the pandemic, Rhode Island had one of the strongest economic recoveries in the country, thanks to strong partnerships between small business groups, associations, and a robust vaccine rollout. Rhode Island’s GDP rose at a rate of 7.2% in Q1 2021, which is higher than the national average. The state’s unemployment rate fell from 17.4% to 5.9% between April 2020 and June 2021, which is among the largest declines in unemployment in the country.
The bill that allows restaurants to sell alcohol with takeout orders was sponsored by Representative Jacquelyn Baginski, while Senator Hanna M. Gallo led the effort on the other side of the General Assembly. The ceremonial bill signing took place outside Chaska, a new Indian restaurant in Cranston, which opened in February 2020 and weathered the pandemic’s hardships.
Apart from thanking legislators who passed the bill, Gallo also thanked former Governor Gina Raimondo, who initially implemented the alcohol-to-go policy during the pandemic’s peak to assist restaurant owners in increasing their sales. In addition, the bill requires third-party delivery providers to obtain permission from restaurants before listing them on their websites and registering to conduct business in Rhode Island.
Representative Robert Craven Sr. and Senator Frank S. Lombardi helped spearhead the effort to ensure that restaurants have more brand autonomy. This legislation aims to safeguard restaurants’ reputations since third-party delivery providers can damage a restaurant’s reputation if they do not deliver meals on time or in good condition. Lombardi noted that owning a brand is the most valuable asset a restaurant or any company can have.