New Oklahoma law allows for self-pour drinks

The new law aims to assist the ongoing workforce shortage

GROVE, Okla.–Jason Evans has been in the restaurant industry for a long time and says in all his experience, he’s never seen a workforce shortage this bad.

“I started out over in Joplin at red hot and blue with mitch Allen, was there for a few years, going to Witchita, and ran some places old Chicago, fox, and hounds…I’ve been doing this a long time and never seen a situation like we’re in right now.”

But, some newly passed Oklahoma legislation is aimed at fixing this, while also giving customers a more enjoyable experience.

The new law allows patrons to serve themselves beer and wine, from an automated machine.

Patrick Lively, from the Craft Brewers Association of Oklahoma, says he believes this is a step in the right direction, after seeing the industry struggle for over eighteen months, and believes the new law could help with that.

“We’re seeing people reduce their hours because they can’t staff them, or keep portions of their restaurants of ours closed because they’re unstaffed, so I definitely think there’s a huge motivation there,” Lively said.

Although the law is so new, Evans says he won’t rule out bringing it to his own businesses, and he’s already seen it used in some parts of the state.

“They’ve got them at baseball stadiums and different things where you just put your cup on the thing, that little deal and it fills up your beer and then just go on down the road…there’s definitely some potential for us to do something like that here,” he said.

Lively adds that this new law gives restaurants more flexibility to do more with less, while they struggle to hire more people.

“There are new struggles to deal with staffing, and so the ability for them to adjust and adapt have had some flexibility and maybe get some more people in their doors with less staff I think has to be seen as a positive thing.”

And this new device won’t just be limited to larger cities either.

“Growth and innovation in the food and beverage scene and rural Oklahoma in ways that we’ve never seen before, we’re seeing breweries open up in places we didn’t think we would see for years, and so I think you know if someone has the vision and they think it’s good for their community yo know the legislature has now cleared the path for them to be able to pursue that dream”

Especially as says he and other area businesses struggle due to low staffing,

“Because everybody’s so short-staffed I mean I literally have cooks in the back that are fielding calls from other restaurants saying hey can you come work for me?”

The self-serve alcohol machines will only serve people up to thirty-two ounces of beer and ten ounces of wine, employees will be able to keep track of the exact amount and make sure the customer is served and charged properly.