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BYOB upheld despite strong opposition from Maui restaurants

August 16, 2012
The Maui Weekly

The Maui News - Maui restaurants will continue having the option of allowing customers to bring their own bottle of wine to enjoy with meals.

A petition challenging the practice--signed by several hundred residents--failed Wednesday before the Maui County Liquor Control Commission.

The commission in March made it legal for restaurants with liquor licenses to charge a corkage fee to allow customers to "bring wine onto the premise for consumption with a meal." The state's other counties already allow the practice.

Fourteen of the island's well-known restaurateurs sent the commission a letter in June requesting that the law be repealed, prompting the group to revisit the topic.

The letter was signed by owners or representatives of Lahaina Grill, Joe's Bar & Grill, Gannon's, Pineapple Grill, Plantation House, Capische?, Spago Maui, Nick's Fish Market, Sarento's on the Beach and Ruth's Chris, among others.

On July 8, the nine-member commission failed to get enough votes to either accept or deny the petition. But under its rules, failing to get a majority vote--a minimum of five votes--means the matter is considered denied.

Because alcohol sales make up a big portion of dining sales, opponents of the existing law argue it will take money away from their bottom lines.

Some hotel representatives testified that the law could put them at a disadvantage for large catering events and weddings, should customers want to bring in wine by the caseload instead of buying it through the hotel.

After the petition vote failed, the commission unanimously approved a request for the Department of Liquor Control to draft a proposed amendment to the law that would exclude hotel and condominium hotel liquor licensees from offering corkage.



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