Diners who would like a glass of wine, beer or cider are now able to serve themselves as “self-pour” machines were approved by the state Legislature in 2021. Self-pour technology may now be installed in restaurants, breweries and other approved permit premises, enabling patrons to serve themselves up to 32 ounces of beer, 10 ounces of wine, or cider with up to 6% alcohol by volume, upon the permittee’s activation of a patron’s payment card.  The automated system may dispense beer, cider, and wine to: (1) a permittee’s employee who is authorized to serve alcohol or (2) to a person who shows a government-issued identification card that matches the name on the payment card and the permittee (or, presumably, his or her employee) verifies to be age 21 or older. The permittee or employee must record the verification that the person is at least age 21. Under the act, automated systems cannot dispense a serving of more than 32 ounces of beer or cider or 10 ounces of wine unless the permittee or employee reactivates the payment card.

The legislation, which became effective June 16, 2021, has not been broadly implemented in Connecticut, but the availability of self-serve technology offers convenience to patrons and will likely become more widely used over time. Currently, 40 states in the United States allow self-pour technology. For specific language, refer to Connecticut General Statutes  §30-62d.

In addition, Connecticut adopted regulations that impose further requirements for management of the permit premises that offer self-pour technology, including maintenance of video surveillance while the self-pour system is in operation, cleaning the system, proper labeling of products on spigots, and system recalibration. Also, prior to its first use by the public at an establishment, permit premises owners must notify the Liquor Control Division at dcp.liquorcontrol@ct.gov. The regulation, in its entirety, can be found in section 30-6-A28 of the Regulation of Connecticut State Agencies.

Further, as of May 1, 2023, new outdoor dining statutes become effective, which largely codify the executive orders issued by Gov. Ned Lamont during the Covid-19 pandemic. Generally, the legislation requires municipalities to permit outdoor food and beverage services as an accessory use “as of right” to the food establishment’s permitted use, subject only to required administrative site plan review to determine conformance with the zoning regulations. However, expanded outdoor food and beverage service is not permitted if it would expand a nonconforming use.

Such outdoor dining and beverage service may extend onto public pathways and parking areas on adjacent properties provided vehicular access is not permitted, and such pathway is constructed and maintained in accordance with all local, state and federal accessibility ordinances and statutes, extends the length of the lot for which the area permitted for the principal use is located, is not less than four (4’) feet wide, and further subject to reasonable conditions imposed by the municipal official or agency that issues right-of-way or obstruction permits. Further, food and beverage service may be offered on off-street parking spaces of the establishment, notwithstanding any municipal ordinance or zoning regulation establishing minimum requirements for off-street parking.  In addition, outdoor food and beverage service may be offered on any lot, yard, court or open space abutting the area of the principal use provided such lot, yard, court or open space is zoned for food establishments, that the use complies with all local, state and federal accessibility ordinances, statutes or regulations and the restaurant proprietor obtains written permission from the owner of such lot, yard, court or open spaces, and provides such permission to the local zoning commission.

The full text of the new statutory language is set forth in “An Act Concerning The Provisions of Outdoor Food and Beverage Services and Outdoor Displays of Public Goods” (PA 22-1).

For more information on these recent statutory and regulation changes, please contact:

Liz Suchy