Pa. supermarkets beat archaic liquor laws, expand beer, wine

Giant Food Stores in January opened the doors to its Marketplace Café at a Martin’s Food Store in Indiana, Pa. The retailer also has tested a vending machine wine kiosk from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in December ruled in favor of Wegmans and supermarkets across the state over whether or not the grocers could sell beer on their premises — the ruling expands what many consider to be the most restrictive alcohol distribution laws in the country. 

In Pennsylvania, beer can be purchased only from a restaurant/bar or beer distributor. Beer distributors can sell only by the case or keg, while restaurants and bars cannot sell more than 16 12-oz. beers per purchase. 

Wegmans, Giant Eagle, Weis and Giant Food Stores all were securing restaurant/bar liquor licenses for “café’s” that had their own entries but were housed within the supermarket.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board also has expanded locations where wine can be sold. Before last year, sales of wine and spirits could be sold only at state-owned shops and wineries. But the PLCB first began testing a vending machine wine kiosk at Wegmans and Giant Food Stores last summer, and is in the process of expanding that program with a planned rollout of 100 kiosks.

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