Sheetz CEO Calls Pennsylvania's Alcohol Laws 'Backward, Outdated'

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Sheetz CEO Calls Pennsylvania's Alcohol Laws 'Backward, Outdated'

ALTOONA, Pa. -- In the wake of Pennsylvania State Supreme Court's recent ruling against Sheetz Inc., revoking the c-store operator's license to sell beer at its Convenience Restaurant here, Sheetz President and CEO said the company is "disappointed" it must stop selling alcohol to its restaurant customers.

"[We] feel this ruling sheds light on the backward, outdated nature of Pennsylvania's beer and alcohol laws," Sheetz said in a statement. "This case reveals the need for legislative reform."

When Sheetz initially applied for its E license to sell beer at the restaurant, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) indicated the company did not need to sell for on-premise consumption, the retailer said. "The PLCB had never required any of the hundreds of E licensees across the state to do so," Sheetz said. "That contention came from the Malt Beverage Distributors Association (MBDA).

"The MBDA has a powerful lobby that has for many years kept Pennsylvania as one of only a handful of states in the entire country that does not allow the purchase of beer at a grocery or convenience store. Insisting that we sell for on-premise consumption is a veiled attempt to hide behind a set of archaic laws that benefit its members yet continues to restrict the freedom of Pennsylvanians to purchase beer in a more convenient setting, during more convenient hours."

The CEO pointed out Sheetz is "a responsible retailer of alcoholic beverages" in five other states and is committed to taking steps to ensure the responsible sale of beer to customers who are of legal age. "At our Altoona restaurant, employees had to be certified in Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS) and the Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP)," Sheetz said. "These courses are conducted by PLCB-approved trainers and are proven to reduce alcohol-related accidents. Sheetz also gives financial support to national organizations working toward the prevention of alcohol-related accidents. This is how beer should be sold."

The nature of the complaint put forth against Sheetz by the MBDA "contradicts the biggest concern that has been expressed—allowing Sheetz to sell beer will increase drunk driving," the CEO said. "Yet they want to force us to allow people to drink at our restaurant and then drive home."

The MBDA asserts keeping sales under its control will curb under-aged drinking and drunk driving, Sheetz said. "This runs counterintuitive to common sense and reveals the hypocrisy of the MBDA's argument for on-premise consumption—from a group whose members include drive-thru distributors. Our belief in prohibiting on-premise consumption is the more responsible approach."

Millions of people across the United States enjoy the freedom and convenience of purchasing alcohol in convenience and grocery stores, the retailer noted. "Granting this same freedom is long overdue here in Pennsylvania and we urge our state's leaders to see past state lines and modernize our beer and alcohol laws for the benefit of the people in the commonwealth who choose to consume this legal beverage."

Sheetz urged the public to write state legislators to consider beer reform.

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