More than $3.3 million in financial relief is going to 657 bar and restaurant owners across the state through a spirit buyback program.


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the funding for bars and restaurants on Monday. The Michigan Liquor Control Commission is the administrator of the governor’s spirits buyback program — which averaged over $5,000 for hard-hit hospitality businesses.


“I know the financial losses have been incredibly devastating to business owners in the hospitality industry during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Whitmer said. “I am pleased that through this innovative program, we can provide much-needed cash to hundreds of Michigan’s bars and restaurants that are struggling right now, to help tide them over until they’re open for business again.”


Dine-in services of all bars and restaurants in the state were suspended on March 16 as the coronavirus outbreak continued to spread.


Pursuant to the governor’s Executive Order 2020-46, the spirit buyback program offered a 100 percent cash buyback to on-premise liquor licensees for spirits they had ordered from the commission prior to March 16.


Licensees keep possession of the products the commission bought back, with no bottles being picked up. Bars and restaurants have 90 days after emergency declarations are lifted to repurchase the inventory by selling it when they’re back open for business and pay the commission back interest-free.


“The commission is proud to be a part of the governor’s one-of a kind liquor buyback,” said MLCC Chair Pat Gagliardi. “We’re extremely pleased to provide these neighborhood bars and restaurants across Michigan a financial lifeline they can count on in these uncertain times.”


Eligible licensees applied for the spirits buyback program directly through the MLCC from April 14-24. Once applications were approved by the MLCC, checks were issued to licensees from the Michigan Department of Treasury.