Thursday, May 15, 2008

The PLCB (and Sheetz) vs. PA Beer Distributors

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.

10 comments:

OSBC said...

Well written, kudos!

Do the PLCB and MBDA care about the consumer and PA taxpayer?

Alcohol distribution and legislation in this state needs to be scrapped and rebuilt from the ground up, without those currently holding the keys.

roan22 said...

In regards to osbc's comment: It doesn't need to be scrapped and rebuilt, they just need to learn how to give up a little absolute control and think realistically, and judge this is favor of allowing Sheetz to sell beer to go if they want. Legislators and Judges need to trust their citizens a little more. Can the state of PA think progressively in the slightest??

---Guy said...

Any idea how long it typically takes for the PA Supreme Court to issue a ruling?

Rich said...

Lew,

Was there a ruling on this or is it still haning out there? When will we know what happens?

Lew Bryson said...

Don't know how long it takes for the PA SC to make a decision. Anyone?

Rebecca, maybe the Code doesn't need to be scrapped and rebuilt for this decision, but I really do believe that in an overall sense, what is needed comes close to that.

Anonymous said...

that's why it's called the
Quaker state

sam k said...

Our Wegmans here in State College began selling beer on Tuesday, both on and off premise. My hat is off to them for going the distance and offering their restaurant customers the option to consume a beer with their meal, which to my mind is the intent of their license.

I will stop in today, but have already heard that the selection is very creative, including the likes of Stone and Chimay, as well as bottles from Otto's, our local, which is located across the parking lot from the store. Will report back about what I see.

sam k said...

Lots of options at the State College Wegmans, from Victory and Troegs to Red Hook and Blue Moon. Two coolers, one for micors/imports and another for mainstreams. Prices aren't any better than in the better six-pack shops in town, and indeed, the selection is not as good as a couple, but the convenience factor is certainly through the roof.

In chatting with a manager, I was told that ALL of the business in the first 24 hours was from the micro/import cooler, with the only sale from the mainstream cooler being a single Coors Light 12 pack. Pretty obvious where the Wegmans shopper's head is at!

Anonymous said...

HEY SAM WAIT TO THE KIDS GET BACK TO SCHOOL AND FOR THE FIRST WEEKEND UP AT LIONVILLE YOU WILL SEE THE PRICES FOR 12 PACKS BOTTLES AND CANS START TO DROP LIKE A LEAD BALLON AND WHEN MR BUD AND MILLER ARE FINISHED THE PRICE FOR A 12 PACK WILL BE LESS THE THE GINGER BREAD IN TOWN THE KIDS BAR ON BEAVER AVENUE CAN BUY THERE BEER FOR BEWARE FOR WHAT YOU WISH FOR .....

Lew Bryson said...

I wish for you to take the Caps Lock off.