A Challenge to Virginia’s Very Bad Happy Hour Regulations

I lived in Northern Virginia for pert near ten years. Shortly after moving there, I learned from Scott Bullock at the Institute for Justice that Virginia had a particularly bad set of rules governing alcohol.

Every bar owner, for example, is required to pay the full list retail price for booze. No case discounts. No promotional benefits for buying this versus that. Oh, and all of that alcohol has to be purchased at the same state-owned stores where the rest of us get our booze.

But it didn’t stop there. Bar owners also are prohibited from alerting potential customers to information about drink specials. That is, bars aren’t allowed to tell passersby about the actual benefits of their own happy hours.

Austin Bragg and I produced a short video detailing this issue in 2009.

Now, thank goodness, the Pacific Legal Foundation and Chef Geoff are challenging these rules. The restrictions are obviously unconstitutional, but commercial speech just hasn’t received the protection it deserves.

The Virginia rules strictly circumscribe the acceptable terminology for advertising happy hours. The firm’s case notes say, “While the state allows happy hour specials, it bans advertising happy hour prices, as well as the use of any terms other than ‘happy hour’ or ‘drink specials.’ Also, while restaurants may offer half-priced drinks, it’s illegal to call these specials ‘two-for-one.'”

This is an overdue and welcome challenge.

A Gift for the Man Who Has Everything

Suggested Christmas gifts for the man who has everything?

Your suggestion should meet the following criteria …

1. He’ll own no more stuff after you give him the gift.
2. His life will be better.

I’ll start with a few:

Re-season all of his cast iron cookware.
Have all of his knives professionally sharpened.
Take him on a depraved weekend bender.
Replace expired items in his bug-out bag.
Watch his kid(s) for a day/night/weekend/week/month/childhood.

Your suggestions?

Update: My friend Sharon sends along a few others …

Change oil in his car?
Invite priest to make weekly visits toward saving his soul?
Install new batteries in his smoke detectors (toward saving his body)?
Visit his family in his place (toward saving his sanity)?
Tickets to Stones concert (reminding him that he, too, will get old and wrinkly and that he can’t always get what he wants, but sometimes he just might get what he needs).

Dr. Bronner’s Embraces Citizens United


It’s refreshing to see a counterculture icon on like Dr. Bronner’s use its corporate treasury funds to advocate for the victory/defeat of a specific ballot initiative:

While many organics companies have contributed to Washington’s 522 campaign, none has gone to the mat like Dr. Bronner’s, which prominently displays a Yes on 522 ad on its soap labels. “Taking sides on a political campaign like that is totally unprecedented in the world of product labeling,” Robert Parker, the president of Label King, the printer of the Dr. Bronner’s labels, tells me as we float among the breakers during a company “board meeting”—an early morning surf at Carlsbad’s Terramar Beach with Bronner and a handful of his employees and friends.

This kind of activism might have been impossible just a few short years ago were in not for the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. That ruling established that people, when acting together as owners of unions and corporations, do not lose their First amendment rights when they choose to use those entities to advocate in the world of electoral politics.

Here’s a short video on the subject (produced long before the decision was rendered):

This Guy Gets Me

Leigh Alexander, that is:

Still, it’s entirely possible Domino’s pizza has simply remained the kind of thing that you just think tastes good at 2 AM, when you’ve been not-sleeping during a New York weekend and feel like being fed by an over-earnest corporation at an absurd hour. It almost doesn’t matter, because it’s very easy for Domino’s to start feeling like a pal on those nights when you tumble drunk and alone into a taxi and realize that you need to eat, urgently. You leave a party in Chelsea or a venue in Williamsburg, stumble into a car in a pile of your own unraveling frippery, mess clumsily with your iPhone for two minutes, and have a pizza ready to take to bed by the time you get home.

A Steak House … for Women

I’ve long said that if I wanted to go to a fantastic wings joint, I’d go to a fantastic wings joint. And if I wanted to go to a strip club, I’d go to a strip club. For those reasons (among others) I rarely go to Hooters, which has always seemed to be a less-than-satisfying hybrid of a wings joint and a strip club.

Enter STK, a steakhouse aimed at women. Judging by the video promotional material, it looks to be a steakhouse aimed at men who want to sidle up to groups of drunk women.

The branding on the company website reads – in descending font size – “Atmosphere / Temptation / Steak.” I simply can’t abide a place that puts the promise of sex before properly prepared red meat.

I have no doubt that it will succeed in the DMV, but that’s mainly because I have a fairly low opinion of the average D.C. guy. (via DCIST)