What if there were a way to order alcohol from a local liquor store and have it delivered to a home in Kansas City? There’s an app for that.
Whether that’s allowed is another question.
Drizly, a Boston-based company, spread word around early Thursday that it had officially launched a home alcohol delivery service in Kansas City through a web application it had developed. Kansas City, according to its news release, was its latest market among some 40 North American cities.
But by Thursday afternoon, and after The Star quizzed Drizly about its compliance with Kansas City liquor laws, Drizly announced it had suspended the service.
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“We’ve become aware that while at the state level Drizly is compliant, the delivery aspect of our business and how it pertains to specifics of The City of Kansas City’s liquor codes require further review with our counsel and the city,” Drizly co-founder Justin Robinson wrote in an email to The Star. “We always err on the side of caution. As we re-review local regulations, we’ve suspended our home delivery option prior to any orders being placed today.”
Drizly works like this: A consumer downloads its mobile app or visits Drizly’s website. When the customer feels like buying liquor but doesn’t want to leave their house to get it, they place their order through Drizly. Drizly then partners with a local liquor store — in Kansas City’s case, that’s Mike’s Wine and Spirits — which processes the payment, handles the delivery and collects a fee and a tip from the customer.
Problem is, Kansas City’s liquor codes forbid such an arrangement.
Jim Ready, manager of Kansas City’s Regulated Industries, said alcohol deliveries are allowed only after a customer has made a payment in person at the “liquor license premises” — in other words, at the liquor store.
“The person has to show up personally,” Ready said.
For example, a liquor store could deliver a couple of beer kegs to someone’s house in Kansas City — but only after that customer showed up to the store and paid for those kegs.
And the local liquor store, Ready added, would need to tell Regulated Industries of its plans to deliver off-site.
“I have not received such a request at this time” regarding Drizly, Ready said.
Robinson said before Drizly launches in a new market, it hires a local attorney to look into the state regulations.
“We did that with our attorney two years ago when we launched in St. Louis,” Robinson said. “We’d communicated with them two years ago and more or less got the green light.”
Mike O’Connell, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Public Safety, said there’s no record of Drizly holding a state license.
Missouri regulations say that “no licensee, his/her agent or employee shall sell intoxicating liquor or nonintoxicating beer in any place other than that designated on the license or at any other time or in any other manner except as authorized by the license.”
“This is interpreted as requiring that the transaction take place on the premises of the licensee, and not through a third party,” McConnell said in an email.