Ricker's Faces End of Beer Sales With New Bill
INDIANAPOLIS —The good times may be ending for Ricker's convenience store beer sales.
The two Ricker's convenience stores that sell cold beer would only be able to do so for another year under the terms of a bill under consideration by Indiana state lawmakers, reported the Indianapolis Business Journal. It still requires four signatures from legislative leaders and approval from both the state Senate and House of Representatives.
Ricker Oil Co. applied for and received alcohol permits typically assigned to restaurants for its locations in Columbus and Sheridan, Ind., due to the stores' food offerings and seating. That prompted lawmakers to move quickly to close the "loophole," as CSNews Online previously reported.
The new proposal specifies that restaurants may not sell carry-out alcohol after May 14 unless 60 percent of their gross retail income from alcohol sales comes from on-premises consumption. Restaurants that received permits before Nov. 1, 2016, are exempted from these requirements. Ricker's received permits for its stores in November and December 2016, respectively.
According to Ricker Oil Co. Chairman and co-founder Jay Ricker, that date clearly and unfairly targets his company's c-stores. Exemptions include city markets, marinas, state parks, golf courses, hotels, resorts, social or fraternal clubs, and restaurants operated by microbreweries.
"I'm shocked at how it looks like it's targeted to us," Ricker said. "They're going to yank our licenses, it appears, down the road. Everybody else pretty much gets accepted but us."
House Public Policy Chairman Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn) stated that there was a good reason for not applying the 60 percent threshold to all operators, according to the report.
"We would really ensnare a lot of people that prior to that Nov. 1 have been operating honorably, doing what they're supposed to be doing, not causing anybody any trouble and just [would] be unnecessarily drawn into this battle because Ricker's brought to the surface their restaurant interpretation [of] following the law," Smaltz said. "I don't think that would be fair to the masses of people."
The Ricker's permits expire in April 2018 at the end of the next legislative session.
Ricker said that he has not ruled out suing the state if the bill is signed into law, but he wants to explore other options first.
"We hear they're really twisting arms very hard to make sure they get this through," Ricker said. "If it gets through, then we'll need to plead our case to the governor."
Anderson-based Ricker's operates 56 convenience stores in Indiana.