Sheetz Takes Beer Fight to Pennsylvania's Highest Court
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will decide the future of beer sales at convenience stores in the state.
On Feb. 16, the court announced that it will take on the ongoing case that pits Pennsylvania's beer distributors vs. the Liquor Control Board and Sheetz Inc.
Malt Beverage Distributors Association v. Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (Sheetz) concerns a Shippensburg, Pa., Sheetz location that is seeking a liquor license where it operates a c-store and gas pumps.
In July, the Commonwealth Court ruled that a liquor license transfer from a Ruby Tuesday restaurant is acceptable because Sheetz has clearly defined parameters between its proposed licensed and unlicensed premises, which are a restaurant and a c-store, respectively. They would be separated by an eight-foot-tall wall with a four-foot-wide connector. All fuel sales would take place on the unlicensed site, according to a Legal Intelligencer report.
Two beverage distributors local to the store challenged the transfer, as did the Malt Beverage Distributors Association. On appeal, they argued that the board made an error in granting the transfer given that "place" and "property" are undefined in the Liquor Code, which states that a license cannot be transferred "to a new location" where fuel is sold, or a "place or property upon which is located as a business the sale of liquid fuels and oil."
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will now consider whether a c-store can sell both beer and gasoline without violating state law. It will ask both sides to argue the meaning of the words "location," "place" and "property."
Currently, around a dozen businesses that have gas pumps also sell beer-to-go within the Keystone State.