Cuomo Chips: New York Bars Starting $1 Menus to Get Around New Drinking Laws

Photo: Fernando Trabanco Fotografía (Getty Images)

If you’ve taken a trip through the drive-thru at your favorite fast food restaurant in the last decade, you’ve likely come across something lovingly referred to as a “dollar menu.” These bite-sized offerings land in the $1 to $2 range. They’re perfect if you want to buy 10 cheeseburgers at midnight without really feeling it in your wallet. The idea of the aforementioned dollar menu isn’t a new thing in the fast-food world. But it is in the New York bar industry and there’s a reason for it.

Due to a new ordinance put in place by Governor Andrew Cuomo, if someone buys an alcoholic beverage at a bar, pub, brewery or restaurant, they also must purchase food. We can only assume this was put into place to stop people from standing shoulder to shoulder as they chug vodka Red Bulls while completely ignoring any form of social distancing.

Perhaps Cuomo didn’t realize this (or maybe he didn’t care), but a lot of breweries, bars, and distilleries either have a very limited menu or don’t serve food at all. Plus, a lot of people enjoy stopping by their local watering hole to have a few beers and don’t really want to purchase a $12 burger on top of it.

To get around the law, many establishments have begun offering “dollar menus.” One of the innovators is Harvey’s Restaurant and Bar in Saratoga Springs. This restaurant has the claim to fame of being the first to coin the term “Cuomo Chips.”

On top of the aforementioned chips, the restaurant also offers dollar menu items like “the smallest piece of cheesecake you’ll ever see” and “just a handful of grapes.” In Hopewell Junction, Handshakes Bar & Grill is offering dollar options including “1 small boneless wing,” “1 pretzel bite,” and “smallest milkshake in Liverpool.” The Lafayette Brewing Company in Buffalo is offering dollar menu items including “a piece of meat,” “nine french fries,” and “handful O’ croutons.”

Sadly, in the days since businesses started their dollar menus, New York State took notice. The ordinance now says that the foods served must be “sandwiches, soups, or other such foods.” We can only hope we haven’t seen the last of Cuomo Chips.

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