The menu would be simple: steak, mashed potatoes and asparagus with a bottle of wine, a water and a coke to wash it down (I generally like to have three drinks in front of me at all times).
Sounds easy enough, just head out to the grocery store to pick everything up. But alas, this is New York City, so something as simple as grocery shopping can never be done in one stop. Why? Because of puritanical blue laws.
In New York it is illegal for grocery stores to sell wine or liquor. So if you want a nice (or cheap) bottle of wine with your meal, you’re going to have to lug your groceries down the block to the liquor store.
And of course unlike the rest of America where liquor stores are open until 2 AM, New York stores close 10 or 11 PM at the latest. So good luck grabbing a bottle of wine for a late dinner.
What makes matters worse is that liquor and wine stores are prohibited from selling anything but liquor and wine. No beer, no snacks, no soda, nothing. So if you want a lime for that tequila you’d better hope there is a grocery store nearby, or you’re out of luck.
Of course the beer and wine shopkeepers like things how they are and lobby hard to keep them that way. (It is always the industries that exist only because of stupid laws that have the most formidable lobbyists.)
But fortunately New York’s budget crisis has provided an opening for change. Desperate for any revenue he can find, Governor Patterson has proposed letting grocery stores and bodegas sell wine.
A similar proposal was shot down last year, but the budget situation is so grim that the projected licensing fees may prove an irresistible temptation to lawmakers.
Here is hoping. I don’t relish the idea of another two hour, multi-store shopping trip for something as simple as steak and potatoes.