New bills currently under committee review in both houses of the New York State legislature would permit the in-theater consumption of alcoholic beverages in New York State cinemas.
Although theaters can currently serve alcohol in licensed lobby areas, and under recent legislation in the theatre itself provided full meals are offered and the theatre fits within the definition of a “restaurant,” the proposed legislation would take it a step further.
The proposed bills (Assembly Bill A07188 and Senate Bill S05784) would amend the New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law to allow theaters to serve alcohol if the following requirements are met: each patron would need to provide evidence that he or she is 21 or older, and is a ticketholder for a motion picture rated PG-13, R or NC-17. Additional restrictions in the drafted text intend to limit the hours of operation – permitting theaters to begin serving alcohol one hour prior to the start of the first motion picture and cease all sales after the final picture of the day – and to limit patron service to just a single beverage per transaction.
If passed as proposed, the legislation should not disturb the on-premises liquor licenses held by table-service theaters, or prevent theaters from continuing to obtain on-premises licenses for lobby areas where movies are not shown.