Many chefs and restaurant people have been quick to criticize what they perceive as health department interference with the way they do their jobs.
Fair enough: I've got a libertarian streak that's wider than most obese Americans' butts. But I'm baffled: Why all the hate directed at the local health department? Why doesn't anyone gripe about the state's Liquor Control Board?
It's no secret: Restaurants that serve alcohol make the bulk of their money off beer, wine and booze. 300 percent markups on booze are not uncommon. How come I don't hear complaints about the Liquor Man?
The Liquor Man is the guy who prevents The Matador from importing exotic tequilas and tells restaurants they can only serve what the state distributes. Why must Doyle's scramble and get cases of Jameson sent over from a state liquor store in Pasco? In California, when my restaurant ran out of rum, I ran to the supermarket.
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The Liquor Man is the one who's made a farce of bar food: 25 bucks for a frozen TV dinner at the Monsoon Room? The place indeed serves liquor by the glass; but over-priced microwave food that no one will order only shows the absurdity of the requirement that if a place serves spirits, it must serve food.
Every time I talk to restaurant or bar owners and the topic of the state Liquor Control Board arises, they clam up or change their tones. No one, it seems, wants bad blood with the booze board.
If restaurants don't have liquor licenses, then servers couldn't badger us with greetings of, "Can I start you with something from the bar?"
You can't spit fire at the health department then wuss out with the Liquor Man.
Let's hear your beefs about how booze works in this state, people.