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Thursday, Jul. 02, 2009

Software glitch slows liquor delivery statewide

A software glitch that has held up the delivery of an estimated 18,000 cases of liquor per day statewide is likely resolved, said a spokesman with the Washington State Liquor Control Board.

But now the organization has to catch up on delayed shipments and additional orders to prepare for the coming holiday weekend, said Brian Smith, spokesman for the board.

"We're filling the back orders ... as well as the huge volume (of orders) that we're experiencing right now in advance of the holiday season," he said.

At Cedars Restaurant in Kennewick, bar manager Marty Holt is looking forward to getting a delivery of a liquor used in one of the bar's signature drinks.

"There's particular items that we need here for our specialty rum drink that we've been shorted on or haven't been able to get at all," Holt said. "I have had to substitute one ingredient with another until we get the order in," which he said he expected today.

In his 18 years at Cedars, Holt said he's never experienced such a prolonged problem with delivery.

For the last three or four weeks he said some of his orders are short or just plain not filled.

But Holt doesn't think sales have been adversely affected.

He said he keeps a stockpile on hand just in case a shortage happens.

The distribution issues haven't affected sales at Jack-son's Sports Bar & Restaurant in Richland, either, said general manager Chuck Fisher.

"Is it an inconvenience? Yes. Is it a major influence on my business? No," he said. "The state is subject to the same growing pains as anybody else."

The Liquor Control Board became aware of the issue June 8, Smith said, when it switched to a new software system.

The glitch affected liquor moving through the state's distribution center in Seattle, the Seattle Times reported.

Only 65 percent to 70 percent of the center's orders were being filled just after the glitch was detected, according to the Times.

Now the organization is playing catch-up.

"We're shipping out commonly requested alcohol to hub stores," Smith said. "That will continue until we're completely caught up."

The board also has brought in temporary staff to help in the warehouse and work will continue throughout the weekend as needed, he said.