State Liquor Distributor Temporarily Closes - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/16/03

State Liquor Distributor Temporarily Closes

Friday at high noon. That's the deadline every restaurant, casino, and liquor store in the state is trying to meet this week for alcohol orders.

Because of a computer glitch, the state's Alcohol Beverage Control Office will stop taking orders on Friday. It could be two weeks before the problem is fixed, but it will feel much longer to some small business owners who depend on regular shipments to stay open.

Bartenders at the President Casino serve at least 70,000 alcoholic beverages to customers per month.

With two storage rooms as well as storage space behind several bars, liquor flows in abundance.

To make sure their customers stay happy, the casino ordered an additional two weeks worth of alcohol from the state-operated Alcoholic Beverage Control Center.

"We were scrambling a little bit today to put in our orders to make sure that we're in before midday on Friday, and we're basically in right now. Now we will just have to wait like everybody else to make sure that we get those deliveries. But in our warehouse, we basically keep about a week and a half stock, so we're not in any problem that way," President Casino Director of Food and Beverage Scott Freeman said.

Mississippi is one of 19 states that controls its liquor industry.

ABC ships approximately two million cases each year to stores, casinos, bars and restaurants.

Many of the larger businesses such as the President Casino have the storage to order at least two weeks worth of liquor as ABC has suggested.

But what many of these larger businesses have that some of the smaller liquor stores may have a problem with is money.

"We have small storage space, limited funds. Those are the two main things," said Hardy Court Liquor & Wine.

Randazzo opened his business five weeks ago.

Unlike larger businesses, he has to order two to three times a week because it's hard to estimate the demand.

"Of course it takes a while for a small business to build up and hopefully this time next year we'll be in a better position to order in extra cases when these type of situations occur. It's a sad thing that it had to happen at this time of year when we're getting ready to go into the holiday season and that's a big season for all of us," said Randazzo.

ABC's distribution of wines and other spirits does not include beer.

By Karla Redditte

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