Weddingnomics: Pennsylvania Catering Edition

A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 3 2012 3:35 PM

Weddingnomics: Pennsylvania Catering Edition

136230800
None for the caterers!

Photo by OLIVER KILLIG/AFP/Getty Images

As a fairly recently engaged person, I have a newfound interest in the curious economics of weddings in America. Jon Geeting is in the same boat and observing a Pennsylvania regulatory conundrum. Until recently the rule in PA was simply that a catering company couldn't be a booze supplier. You could pay your food caterers to serve booze at your event, but the event organizer had to purchase and transport the booze separately from a licensed booze retailer. But then along came a partial deregulation, as the state legislature decided to allow bars that have liquor licenses and side catering businesses to also get off-premises liquor licenses.

As is often the case with partial deregulation, this has in some ways made the economic distortion even worse. Under the old system, liquor distributors got some rents at the expense of everyone else but the catering world was at least a level playing field. Now the rents have been partially dissipated, but licensed restaurant/catering combo operations have a weird regulatory leg up on freestanding caterers that serves, among other things, as a possible barrier to entry into the catering business.

Advertisement

The Moneybox Preferred Solution for state alcoholic beverage licensing is to be extremely liberal about who is allowed to sell booze, and express concern for revenue or public health through high taxes. That way the rents accrue back to the state treasury allowing for lighter taxation of general retail sales.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

U.S. Begins Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

How in the World Did Turkey Just Get 46 Hostages Back From ISIS?

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.