More than 16,000 hotel rooms have already been booked, including 5,000 in downtown Cleveland alone. Based on past political conventions in other cities, an estimated $200 million in direct spending will be generated by this event. Much of that infusion to the local economy will benefit Ohio, including businesses such as restaurants, hotels, bars, and other entertainment venues.
There are four things you can do to be prepared for this monumental event. First, liquor permit holders need to be prepared for an influx of customers. The Division has been working closely with suppliers, warehouses and trucking to ensure that affected Contract Liquor Agencies - Agencies in Cleveland and those within about a 60-mile radius - get the right products in the right quantities to serve their wholesale customers.
Second, it is imperative that if your business has privileges to sell spirituous liquor for on- premise consumption you contact your assigned Contract Liquor Agency immediately to order the appropriate products and quantities you need in advance, especially for any special events or private parties already scheduled to be held at your establishment. Be sure to increase your normal order quantities for top selling and popular brands, as well as products needed for any specialty drinks on your menu for the event week.
A third consideration for permit holders, especially those hosting special events, is to be sure that alcohol sales and consumption occur only within your defined permit premises rather than any spaces such as tents in the parking lot or other temporary outdoor areas. If you want to expand the area of your permit premises to a patio or deck, you can get authorization from the Division by contacting the Division’s Investigative Services Section at (614) 644-2433.
Finally, the most fundamental thing to remember is your social responsibility to prevent alcohol sales to underage and intoxicated individuals. It’s up to you and your employees to make sure that all customers buying alcohol are at least 21 years old, and are not over-served. Checking for a valid driver’s license, an official state of Ohio identification card, a U.S. military identification card or a passport can help prevent illegal sales and protect your business. Electronic ID scanners are great devices, but the human factor is still the most effective tool for preventing underage drinking.
Please remember that it is also illegal for any persons to permit the engagement of accommodations at any hotel, inn, cabin, or campground by an underage person or for an underage person, if it is known or suspected that the underage person is intoxicated or possesses any beer or intoxicating liquor.
Education and awareness are the keys to running any successful business and also to fulfilling your social responsibilities as a permit holder, Liquor Agent and good corporate citizen. Please visit our website at www.com.state.gov/liqr to access these tools and our educational materials, like the training booklet, “Safe Alcohol Sales.” There are also other great resources you can link to including: “We Don’t Serve Teens” and the Alcohol Server Knowledge (ASK) training program offered by the Ohio Investigative Unit. Also follow our Twitter feed at @ohioliquor.
Bruce Stevenson is superintendent of the Ohio Division of Liquor Control at the Ohio Department of Commerce.