COLUMBUS – State Representatives Jeff LaRe (R-Violet Township) and D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) yesterday toured Watershed Distillery to learn first-hand the outcome the Business Expansion and Safety Act would bring to local businesses.
Located in Columbus, Watershed Distillery closed its doors in March due to COVID-19. The distillery slowly began to partially open and is now only bringing in profit from hand sanitizer sales and carryout beverage sales.
“We’re still waiting to open the rest of the bar and restaurant area up until customer confidence has increased,” said Greg Lehman, owner of Watershed. “We’re used to bringing in around $10,000 in sales daily, but since the shutdown, it’s been closer to $2,000.”
Lehman, president of the Ohio Distiller’s Guild, has shown support for the Business Expansion and Safety Act from its start.
“We appreciate the efforts of Greg and other small business owners who see the true benefits that the Business Expansion and Safety Act can bring to communities,” said LaRe.
“Not only was it fascinating to tour the Watershed facility, but we were able to see how things would change at Greg’s business if our legislation were to become law,” said Swearingen.
The Business Expansion and Safety Act would bring revenue and safety to businesses through the following:
- Allows for retail permit holders to utilize more outside space on private or public property with approval from the local township or municipality while serving customers
- Codify into permanent law the “carry-out” drinks allowance by the Ohio Liquor Control Commission
- Allows for third party delivery for carryout alcohol for those over the age of 21
“If Jeff and D.J.’s bill becomes law, we can start serving people in our parking lot, which covers a lot of outdoor space and will make customers more comfortable coming in, which will ultimately increase our profits,” said Lehman. “It’s a cool community here in Ohio because the brewers and distillers help each other out and we want each other to succeed. This bill will help us all succeed.”
The legislation passed out of the House on June 10 and now awaits consideration in the Senate.