Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association president and CEO Joe Massaro, along with stakeholders from the catering and restaurant industries, joined Gov. Josh Shapiro and Rep. Napoleon Nelson (D-154th) for a ceremonial bill signing of Act 51 of 2023.
Shapiro signed Nelson’s House Bill 1160, which will permanently allow Pennsylvania liquor licensees the freedom to provide services for an unrestricted number of catered functions using off-premise catering permits, formally on December 14, 2023. The legislation was enacted as Act 51 of 2023.
“At a time when many businesses in the hospitality industry are struggling with inflationary pressures, Act 51 is welcome and uplifting news. We applaud Rep. Napoleon Nelson and Gov. Josh Shapiro for their leadership in moving this important issue forward,” Massaro said. “Act 51 will undoubtedly give restaurants, caterers, and all eligible licensees the opportunity to grow their business by expanding their services to more customers, while also increasing revenue for the Commonwealth. This is a win for the industry, for consumers, and for Pennsylvania.”
“I’m thrilled to have worked with PRLA and the broader hospitality industry to identify and advance common-sense legislation that helps make Pennsylvania’s liquor laws more practical for PA businesses and consumers,” Rep. Nelson said. “I’m hopeful that Act 51 will help caterers, restaurants, and other licensees grow, expand services, and ultimately bring in more revenue for the Commonwealth.”
The Off-Premises Catering Permit, separate from a catering or liquor license, allows Restaurant, Hotel, and Eating Place licensees to sell alcohol outside their regular premises. Act 81 of 2021, enacted in response to the pandemic, previously allowed licensees to host an unlimited number of catered functions until the end of 2024, removing the previous cap of 52 events annually. Act 51 of 2023 will take effect on January 1, 2025.
Granting unlimited off-premise catering permits enables eligible licensees to recover lost income from the pandemic. The removal of event restrictions, implemented through Act 81, has been crucial for the industry. Making this provision permanent ahead of the sunset date in 2024 allows small businesses to better plan for future events, some of which are booked years in advance.
“This legislation supports our local businesses as they continue recovering from the pandemic, and also puts a long-term tool in place for a more vibrant path forward for businesses, all while generating additional tax revenue for the Commonwealth and promoting responsible alcohol sales at catered events,” Nelson continued.
Act 51 will generate additional tax revenue for the Commonwealth and help ensure the responsible sale and use of alcohol at catered events.