(Harrisburg) -- As the liquor privatization debate bubbles up yet again in the halls of the state Capitol, some grocery stores have used existing law to sell beer and wine, and Lancaster County has its first store that offers beer.
Wine, beer and liquor regulations can get complicated, but grocery stores can sell beer if the aisle is separate from the rest of the store with some seating, plus a dedicated checkout lane.
And that's exactly what Wegman's, Giant Food Stores and Weis Markets have done. Weis recently became the first supermarket chain to offer beer in Lancaster County at its store in Lititz.
"If they are from a state that has very liberal alcohol selling rules, and then they come to the state of Pennsylvania, they might the regulations perhaps a little bit cumbersome," says Chris Brand, spokesman for Giant Food Stores. He says Giant stocks about 600 different types of beer in stores in a "Beer Garden and Eatery."
The cafes have been in both Giant and Weis stores for a couple years now, with some plans for expansion, but nothing specific yet.
"It's easily accessible, but there's also a separate exit, and these are all PLCB regulations. Once people sort of figure it out, it's not hard to do, but every now and then, you'll see someone taking a six pack and going to the front end and you have to politely say, you can't purchase it here, you have to purchase it in the beer cafe," says Dennis Curtin, spokesman for Weis. He adds the biggest challenge is finding a liquor license available in the county where the store is located.
Earlier this month, Governor Corbett says he's still working on privatizing the state's liquor stores.
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