State's Liquor Control Commission extends alcohol buy back program deadline

Evan James Carter
The Detroit News

Bars and restaurants now have an extra week to request the state government buy back alcohol purchased before March 16, after state regulators extended the deadline.

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission will accept buy back requests from locations with alcohol licenses until 5 p.m. on April 24. The previous deadline was April 17.  

"We thank MLCC Chairman Pat Gagliardi for his creative leadership during an immensely challenging time in the hospitality industry," Justin Winslow, President and CEO of the Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association, said in a statement.

The empty bar and restaurant of the closed Detroit Foundation Hotel in downtown Detroit, Michigan on March 30, 2020.

The extension of the state's buy back program comes in the midst of an effort by some bar and restaurant owners and employees to petition the government to allow, temporarily, the sale of single-serve alcoholic drinks to go in Michigan.

"Governor Gretchen Whitmer ... on behalf of restaurant and bar owners, operators, and employees, we are urging the State of Michigan to enact a temporary executive order to allow for the sale of safely packaged single-serving cocktails and/or beer, wine, and spirits from licensed establishments during the covid-19 pandemic," the group says in a online petition.

Bars and restaurants opting into the program will have repay their advance from the state or surrender the equivalent amount of spirits within 90 days after the end of Michigan's state of emergency.

On April 13, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order instructing the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) to conduct a spirits buy back program from bars and restaurants with on-premise liquor licenses.

The order was designed to offer financial relief to 8,500 liquor-licensed establishments that have been prevented from selling alcohol since March 16, when Whitmer closed bars and eat-in restaurants to curb the spread of coronavirus. On Monday, Whitmer extended her order closing restaurants except for takeout and delivery service until April 30.

Under the order, the commission can buy back inventory at its full purchase price, provided it was sold to bars and restaurants before March 16. The establishments will be required to maintain and store their inventory until the commission takes possession at a future date.

Those interested in the buy back can apply online.

Twitter: @EvanJamesCarter