Yesterday, there was a Pennsylvania Supreme Court hearing on the lawsuit the Pennsylvania Malt Beverage Distributors Association (MBDA) brought against the PLCB for granting a 'deli license' to a Sheetz 'convenience store' ('quotes' used because this place is huge, and includes a 60-seat restaurant with 4,000 sq. ft. of floor space).
Some interesting points:
Sheetz currently sells only takeout beer in Altoona. The distributors' association contends that the store also should have to serve beer to restaurant patrons for consumption on the premises. (from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
The MBDA's attorney argued that by granting the license to a retailer that did not intend to serve on-premise, ‘‘The [liquor board] authorized venues to sell beer that the Legislature never intended,’’ Robert Hoffman, attorney for the distributors’ group, told the justices. (from the Altoona Mirror)
Mr. Wolowski (the lawyer representing Sheetz) told the justices that Sheetz is willing to serve beer in the Altoona store if that is required. A lawyer for Wegmans, which was not a party to the Sheetz case, signaled a similar willingness. (Post-Gazette)
Liquor board attorney Rodrigo Diaz said liquor licensees are granted the privilege to sell alcoholic beverages, but not required to sell them. "You get a license from us, you don't have a duty to sell," Mr. Diaz said. (Post-Gazette)
Some justices debated the merits of allowing alcoholic beverages to be sold by businesses that not so long ago were not even considered. When Justice Seamus McCaffery called the Sheetz store "a gas station," Justice Debra Todd asserted that it is more than that. "They sell creme brulee," she said.
Fascinating. Where is the justification for finding that these two businesses cannot hold a license? Is it because Sheetz sells gas? So what? If a store that currently operated as a deli decided to start selling gas, would that invalidate its deli license? If it did, why? People -- legislators and judges -- seem to have this bizarre idea that if beer is sold in gasoline stations, where people drive in to get gas in their cars, they will automatically drive away sucking on a cold longneck. As opposed to driving to a restaurant or bar, where they will suck on the cold longneck before they drive away? If a supermarket has a license to sell beer, how is that different from a tavern or deli with the same kind of license to sell beer?
Note to the PA legislature: look at how the wind's blowing. People want sixpacks. Don't bobble the sixpack sale legislation still being considered.