Here’s the latest from the Associated Press on the Altoona-based Sheetz convenience store chain’s ongoing campaign to sell beer in its Pennsylvania stores:
Sheetz will be allowed to sell beer at its convenience store/restaurant in Altoona, but for now, selling six packs at its convenience stores is still a pipe dream.
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board ruled this week that the Altoona-based convenience store chain can sell beer at the restaurant.
The Malt Beverage Distributors Association of Pennsylvania said it will appeal the ruling.
Sheetz President and CEO Stan Sheetz said the ruling is “the end of that process, but not the end of the battle,” reiterating his call for reform in Pennsylvania’s beer laws.
The Altoona site was granted an E-license, or eating place license, in 2004.
An E-license allows both take-out and on-site consumption, but the state Liquor Control Board initially indicated to Sheetz that offering on-premise consumption was not required.
The Malt Beverage Distributors Association filed a lawsuit to stop the beer sales, and the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court eventually revoked the company’s beer license, requiring Sheetz to allow customers to drink beer on the premises.
Sheetz re-applied, saying it would allow customers to drink there, and on Wednesday the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board allowed Sheetz to move forward.
“It’s not so much a concession (to offer on-premise consumption). If that’s what an E-licensee has to do, that’s what we have to do,” Sheetz Vice President and General Counsel Mike Cortez said in a phone interview. “It’s not our preference, but it’s what we’re told by the courts we have to do.”
Cortez said other conditions of the license have already been met, including a partition between the convenience store and the restaurant, and separate management between the two operations.
Sheetz operates in six states, but Pennsylvania is the only one that does not allow beer sales in convenience stores.
“Our ultimate hope is we’re able to treat our customers (in Pennsylvania) like we treat our customers in every state. That is, to sell beer responsibly in our stores,” Cortez said. “The current laws are archaic. We think they don’t make any sense and they’re outdated. We believe our customers want this service.”
Sheetz has circulated petitions in stores and online and has also pushed for changes to the state’s liquor laws, as has the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association and the Pennsylvania Convenience Store Council.
Wednesday’s ruling by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board affects only the site on Pleasant Valley Boulevard in Altoona. The company said in a news release that it is hoping to resume beer sales there as soon as possible.