Pete Hanning, owner of the Red Door restaurant and president of the Seattle Nightlife and Music Association, supports Initiative 1183. The measure would close the state-run liquor stores and allow grocery stores over 10,000 square feet to sell hard alcohol.

Running a restaurant—creating a place where people can enjoy great food, relax, talk, socialize and generally wind down from life’s stress—is my passion. I’ve devoted myself for years to the hospitality industry, so I take seriously any issue that affects the quality of my guests’ experiences and my business’ bottom line.

Which is why I’m urging a YES vote on Initiative 1183 on the November ballot.

I feel Initiative 1183 is a responsible and reasonable plan to finally get state government out of the business of selling and promoting liquor and focus state resources where they belong—on enforcement of and education on our liquor laws.

My career in hospitality and my involvement with the Seattle Nightlife and Music Association, Seattle Restaurant Association, and Washington Restaurant Association (WRA) have shown me that while there are many things the state can and even should do, handing out free liquor samples isn’t exactly a paramount duty.

Restaurants are behind I 1183 because we’re in the hospitality business. Like a lot of restaurant owners, I want people to have a good experience when they’re in my place. Among other things, this means strong expertise and having choices.

We have the expertise. But one of the problems with the current system of state-controlled liquor and big (out of state) liquor retailers in charge of distribution is that restaurants have no choice but to buy liquor from an assigned store. There is no competition for our business. Sometimes they’re out of what my customers want, and that is frustrating and harmful to my guests and business.

Washington is one of the few states that actually forces restaurants to purchase liquor from government stores at government-set prices. As a business owner, I want distributors to compete for my business by offering me the product selection and customer service my guests and business demand.

If I-1183 passes, it also means increased funding and tougher penalties for local law enforcement. I’ve been advocating for increased enforcement and education in the form of real tools to prevent sales to minors, keeping alcohol-impaired people off our roads, and helping communities to be more safe and vibrant. And because restaurants will have a bigger selection and more consistent supply of spirits does NOT mean a hall pass for minors. Those of you under 21 who’ve been carded will continue to get carded. We’re not about to lose our liquor licenses or get busted just so minors can consume alcohol.

And on the retail side, I-1183 limits liquor sales to large and medium size grocery stores. For the average consumer, passage of I-1183 will mean better selection at their neighborhood restaurants and stores. Also, these types of stores are as good or better than state liquor stores at preventing sales to minors, and to say otherwise is bullshit.

There’s also an environmental efficiency to buying everything in one spot. If you’re having friends over for mojitos, and you have to go to the store for limes, mint and ice and then make another trip to the liquor store, it just means an extra trip and more time on the roadways.

People need to check their facts. Stranger readers can do just that by visiting Once you do, I think you’ll agree with me that a YES vote on 1183 is a no-brainer.

(Note to readers: Slog also ran a guest post by the campaign opposing I-1183, which you can read here. )