Hospitality businesses want liquor laws changed to allow alcohol served on street

Hospitality businesses are begging to be able to serve dinner and drinks on the streets come summer.

Restaurants want to block off a busy Auckland road for al fresco dining, when the city moves to a traffic light system. But having a sav on the street requires changes to the law.

An espresso could be mixed into a martini on Auckland's Tamaki Drive. Businesses in this affluent suburb want to turn the throughfare into a street soiree in summer.

"Flexibility is the name of the game, so if we close part of Tamaki Drive, have a bit of a street party atmosphere, have businesses that are already licensed be able to expand their licences," St Heliers Business Association chairman Peter Jones says.

Annabelle's restaurant on the main drag has a licence to serve food and alcohol to tables just outside its front door.

"That's it, one metre, we would like to go be right to the other side of the road if we can," Annabelle's owner Sang Cho says.

But to do that, Cho needs his liquor licence to be expanded.

"Just for the summer, I'm not asking for the whole year, just for the summer so we can actually survive."

Auckland Council has already extended all outdoor dining licences for the next six months, and is fast-tracking new applications for street dining - but that's for food only.

For businesses to able to serve liquor on the street, a change is needed to alcohol laws. Only central government can do that.

"We can close the road, we can divert traffic, we can do all those sorts of things, but it's really the alcohol side that we really need some assistance from central government," Auckland Council finance and expenditure committee chair Desley Simpson says.

In traffic light red, Auckland restaurants can serve up to 100 people, with groups a metre apart - provided staff check customers are fully vaccinated.

But to serve that many, they'll need more space - so a summer of street parties is being suggested all over the super city.

Terence Harpur, CEO of the North Shore's Takapuna Business Association, says it would be a lifeline for struggling businesses. But without booze, many won't bother.

"We need it to be food and alcohol, it just makes sense to be able to serve customers in the way that they deserve and the way that they are used to, and you do like to have a cold drink with your meal."

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