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05.2011

Massachusetts Beverage Business

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DRINK DEALS ARE OFF FOR GROUPON

When something seems to be too good to be true, it usually is – and many restaurants throughout the state recently found that out the hard way. The Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) has determined that restaurant discounts (ie: $4O worth of food and drinks for $2O) offered by the website Groupon, are in violation of the state’s “happy hour” regulation, which prohibits restaurants from selling alcohol drinks at a discount from the price regularly charged during the same week, and from selling discounted drinks to anybody on a given day at prices less than those charged the general public. The ABCC has asked Groupon for a list of all Massachusetts restaurants that offered such drink deals, including the volume of sales and revenue generated. The ABCC determination came after the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge asked for an advisory opinion on a proposed Groupon promotion for food and drinks. The ABCC also found fault with how Groupon collects money from consumers who buy the deals. Groupon takes a cut and then pays the restaurants, which is in effect an unlawful transfer of an interest in the restaurants’ liquor license. There really is no such thing as a free drink.

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