Sunday, December 21, 2014

More about frozen weenies and powdered milk.

Earlier this year after our provisional food menu went viral, I exchanged e-mails with Melinda Haring, the Activism Manager at the Institute for Justice. The IJ is a legitimate entity, and was featured a few days ago as part of an article in the New York Times about city-mandated tourist guide licenses in Savannah, Georgia.

A few days ago, the IJ picked up our statutory compliance menu in a web site posting:

If Bank Street Brewhouse’s sleek exterior and silver siding in New Albany, Ind., doesn’t catch your eye, its unusual menu might. Loaded with sarcasm and bite, the menu offers “Chef Campbell’s Soup of the Day,” helpfully “served in a bowl. Your choice of whichever can is on the top of the stack.” 

Alternatively, a hungry diner can sample a hotdog, “microwaved to perfection, including both weenie and bun, sans condiments.” But people don’t go to Bank Street Brewhouse for anything other than beer, making the state’s law requiring any establishment with an alcoholic beverage sales permit to maintain a restaurant on its premises burdensome and out of touch with consumers.

The article includes this bit of encouragement:

Take action: If you own a brewery in Indiana and want to challenge the state’s absurd requirement that you serve hot soup, hot sandwiches, coffee and milk, and soft drinks, please contact us. We can help!

This is the same offer extended to NABC back in September when the story first broke, and as a director on the board of the Brewers of Indiana Guild, and a team player when it comes to industry solidarity, I took the notion of IJ assistance to BIG's legal counsel and discussed the matter with the board.

The conclusion was that with this food requirement issue being a likely candidate for legislative action this coming spring, there isn't any need to contemplate legal maneuverings until the legislative process has played out. I told Melinda this, and she offered to help in the sense of getting word out, which I interpret the IJ's posting to be.

I encourage any Indiana brewery owners reading these words, who might be tempted to contact Melinda and the IFJ, to at least wait until we see how the legislative agenda is progressing. It's just a few more months of freezer burn and stale instant coffee. However, if legislative relief is not forthcoming, then perhaps we all should band together and see what the IJ can do.

It's simple pragmatism: While the food service requirement is a nagging pain in the butt, there are bigger fish to fry when one considers Indiana brewing's legislative goals overall. Let's just keep it in perspective  ... for now.

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