Home rum? Online booze delivery service thrives in Cincinnati

Men drink beer at a restaurant in Hanoi in this July 20, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Kham/Files

LOUISVILLE Ky. (Reuters) - Less than 10 days after launching in Cincinnati, an online beer run and convenience store service says business is so good, it is looking into expanding into nearby cities in Ohio and Kentucky.

Chicago-based started offering delivery of alcoholic beverages and other party supplies - such as food, ice and tobacco products - in the Cincinnati area on Sept. 13.

Customers order booze and smokes on the Drinkos site and they are delivered for a fee. Drinkos has established relationships with six convenience and liquor stores, and co-founder Ephrem Lijalem told Reuters the company’s legal team is vetting additional stores before bringing them on board.

The company, which is in the process of applying for a special use permit status for the alcohol delivery service, is getting 40 to 50 orders per day for an average amount of $60, which is more activity than was expected, Lijalem said.

Drinkos chose Cincinnati because of the number of store owners who expressed interest as well as the area’s growing hotel and casino market. A mobile application called Drizly operates in larger markets around the United States, but only sells alcohol.

Drinkos’ Lijalem claimed his company aims not only to make money, but also to reduce the number of drunken driving incidents and arrests. The company uses a third-party verification system to ensure those who purchase alcohol are of drinking age.

The local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving said it was not endorsing or opposing the service. Rachel Babich, a victim services specialist at MADD’s Southwest Ohio chapter said it was too early to tell if the service could make a dent in drunk driving or underage drinking.

As Drinkos adds participating stores in Cincinnati, it is also seeking to expand in other markets. Lijalem said the company is looking at Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio, as well as Louisville, Lexington and the Cincinnati suburbs in northern Kentucky.

“By the beginning of October, we should be in some of those cities as well,” he said.

Editing by Fiona Ortiz and G Crosse