The city of Meriden is shortening the hours of local liquor stores.
In an order posted to the city’s Facebook page, City Manager Timothy Coon said they must close at 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and by 5 p.m. on Sundays, beginning Wednesday, April 8.
Many liquor store owners are already taking steps on their own to keep their customers and their staff safe.
“Some people like buying six packs of beer, they’re buying 30 packs because they’re thinking now they’re staying home and they don’t want to come too often to the liquor store or outside,” said Dan Patel, owner of Arthur’s Cordial Shoppe in Meriden.
Business has never been better for Patel’s liquor store, but he said his best business comes in the evening. Now, under an emergency ordinance, he’ll have to close early.
“It’s going to hurt a little bit, business, but you have to think another way. You’re also helping the community,” said Patel, who decided a week ago to start closing at 7 p.m., when he heard the new ordinance was coming down the pipeline.
“We want to support the community and we want to spread the virus less, so it’s perfect,” he said.
Naveen Kumar, the manager of Honeycomb Empire Wine and Liquor in neighboring Wallingford, said foot traffic in his store is down 40%. However, its delivery service is a different story.
“Now it’s big. Very big,” said Kumar.
The delivery service got off the ground three months ago, before the coronavirus pandemic. Back then, Kumar was doing 10 deliveries a weekend.
“We’re doing like 40, or 50, sometimes 60 deliveries a day,” said Kumar of the change the last three weeks.
Kumar said he’s glad his customers are staying safe.
“Most of the people are not coming out. I just knock on the door and just leave it outside. That is safe. I like that,” he said.
The McVerry Family, in their 70s, is staying out of stores.
“We’re avoiding crowds completely,” said Patrick McVerry.
They got their beer and wine to go on Wednesday from the London Shoppe Package Store in West Hartford, where curbside pick-up is now five to 10% of the business.
There’s an even bigger change inside the London Shoppe.
“We go and get all of the inventory to reduce the amount of touching of product,” said owner Kevin Boncek.
Tables set up right inside the front door keep customers from browsing in the store.
“We’re not able to clean the entire store every time somebody comes in a touches the cooler doors and wine bottles,” Boncek explained.
Some liquor stores, by virtue of their size, have had to make adjustments to accommodate social distancing requirements. The pandemic has created both challenges and opportunities for the liquor business, deemed essential by the state.
“Business is not going anywhere. It’s going to come back when everything’s back to open,” said Patel.