DELAWARE – The start of April means Sussex County's peak season for business is almost underway. However, there is one system in the first state that is currently holding some potential business back.
"The government needs to spend less time regulating our small businesses and instead empowering them to do all that they can," says Senator Ernie Lopez (R-Lewes).
Delaware's long-standing, three-tier system of alcohol distribution currently states that you cannot be licensed as both a manufacturer and a retailer of alcohol products, with places like brewpubs as exceptions. However, thanks to "Blotto Gelato," that could all change.
"We had no idea if we could freeze the ice cream with alcohol in it so we started doing research," says Kathleen Belfont, owner of Blotto Gelato.
Belfont approached Senator Lopez after her and her husband came up with the idea of mixing ice cream with alcohol, to see what could be done with Delaware's current system. Now, Senate Bill 167 is underway, which would allow selling products with less than two percent alcohol by weight. It would also require the product to label that it contains alcohol. This would allow Belfont's more than 20 flavors of ice creams, sherbets, and sorbets to go on the market. Belfont says she plans to only make the product out of commercial kitchens, whether she leases a space or uses a restaurant's facility.
As far as selling the product, she has already been in touch with Po' Boys in Milton about moving forward.
"If it passes, it would truly be take-off time," says Belfont. "We would be able to then actually sell to a consumer, to a retailer, to a packaging store like a liquor store and such."
It could also potentially open the window for other entrepreneurs across Delaware.
"I feel that the baked goods and candies and such could also take off from this," says Belfont. "Why not someone else try their hands at what they're really hoping to do and accomplish? It shows there can definitely be room for more new."
"In the economic climate that we're in, in which small businesses are struggling, this is just a smart, helpful piece of legislation," says Senator Lopez. "I think this builds a lot of good will between government and small businesses where there isn't right now."
The bill will now head to the House for a hearing, which Senator Lopez says has already generated wide bi-partisan support.
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