Sheetz Subsidiary Fights for Beer Sales

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Sheetz Subsidiary Fights for Beer Sales

ALTOONA, Pa. -- Ohio Springs Inc., a subsidiary of Sheetz Inc., filed an appeal to a lower court ruling that temporarily stopped beer sales at the Sheetz convenience store and restaurant at 17th Street and Pleasant Valley Boulevard in Altoona, Pa., according to the Altoona Mirror.

Ohio Springs, which holds the Sheetz beer license, filed two motions, said Mike Cortez, Sheetz vice president and general counsel in the report.

"We responded ... that the stay should not be lifted, and we should be able to continue to sell beer while the Supreme Court decides what to do," Cortez said. "The other provides additional information for the Supreme Court to look at while it decides what to do."

Ohio Springs' appeal is the latest legal salvo in a three-year battle to sell beer and coolers at the Sheetz store.

Commonwealth Court halted beer sales Feb. 23 after hearing arguments from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and the Malt Beverages Distributors Association of Pennsylvania, the Altoona Mirror reported. The PLCB appealed to the Supreme Court Feb. 28, a move that restarted beer sales.

Distributors have asked the Commonwealth Court to stop sales for a second time while the appeal moves forward, claiming Sheetz's beer license required the convenience store chain to sell malt products for on-site consumption -- an argument a majority of the lower court accepted, according to the report.

Sheetz said it wouldn't sell beer for on-site consumption, but may do so if required. At least one state lawmaker is looking at whether legislation is needed in response to issues raised in the Sheetz case.

Sen. John Rafferty, R-Chester, told The Associated Press after a hearing Tuesday that the General Assembly may want to clarify, for example, rules about the physical barriers required to separate grocery areas from restaurants with beer sales licenses.

"It does have to be a wall," said Rafferty, chairman of the Law and Justice Committee. "It can't be a wall with crackers."

Sheetz made changes to the store and its business records to win the license. The records of the two businesses are kept separately, and the gasoline business is separated from the store through separate deeds, the report stated. Physical alterations include a speed bump as a separation barrier between the gas island and the store.

Beer also is sold at a Weis Markets Inc.-owned Mr. Z's store in Tannersville, Monroe County. Wegmans Food Markets Inc. wants to sell beer at its 11 Pennsylvania stores, including State College.

"There is no reason to treat restaurants located in supermarkets any differently from restaurants located in malls, shopping plazas or elsewhere," said Craig Hoffman, who runs operations for Wegmans' Pennsylvania stores.