WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Cuomo makes another push to allow alcohol sales in movie theaters

Jan 6, 2020
Originally published on January 9, 2020 1:33 pm

Governor Andrew Cuomo is again pushing for legislation that would allow the sale of alcoholic beverages in movie theaters.

This is a concept that Cuomo has backed for the last few years, but which has faced some opposition in the state legislature.

He says one of the proposals he will make in next week’s State of the State Address is allowing the sale of beer, wine and spirits at movie theaters. Current state law only allows that to happen at theaters that have full kitchens and that also have tables set up inside the actual movie theater.

Cuomo says the change would help theaters who are trying to upgrade their facilities to become more competitive. And Scott Pukos agrees. He’s the public relations coordinator at The Little Theatre in Rochester, which is operated by WXXI.

“In our concession stand right now we sell a lot of local stuff, our coffee is from Java’s, so we would do the same if we were able to do beer and wine, where we’d have beer from Rohrbach’s which we do sell already in The Little Café, so it’s just something that would be really supportive of both small businesses and independent theaters, like The Little,” Pukos says.

Pukos notes that movie theaters are facing a lot of competition these days.

“There’s a lot, Netflix, Disney+, there’s a lot of other options for people and people can have a beer on their couch and watch a movie, so at The Little we try to elevate it and have what we call ‘The Little Experience,’ which is to give people who come out to the theater an experience worthwhile and something where they want to come out and leave their homes and see a movie,” Pukos explains.

The Little Theatre does have its own café, but currently customers are not allowed to bring their beer or wine into the theater. The Little is in the process of finishing up a major renovation to its historic Theater 1.

New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie has raised concerns  in the past about safety if alcohol could be consumed inside a movie theater. Under Cuomo’s plan only one drink could be sold to a movie customer at a time. 

Cuomo will include the proposed change in state law when he delivers his State of the State Address on Wednesday.

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