Sheetz unhappy with Pa. SC decision

John O'Brien Jun. 16, 2009, 3:44pm

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) - A Monday decision revoking one of its store's liquor license is an example of Pennsylvania's outdated liquor laws, the president and chief executive officer of Sheetz, Inc., said.

A 5-1 decision says the company can not sell beer for take-out only at its Altoona location. It adds that some beer must be consumed at the store since the coolers are in the restaurant portion of the store, but Sheetz forbids it.

The Malt Beverages Distributors Association of Pennsylvania challenged Sheetz's rules.

"This case does not involve an attempt by the (Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board) to sanction a retail dispenser licensee for failing to sell beer for on-site cconsumption, but rather involves a determination of whether Ohio Springs (a Sheetz store owner) is entitled to an eating place malt beverage retail dispenser license based upon the proposed use of their facility," Justice Max Baer wrote.

"Under the circumstances presented, we find that it is not. In summary, we hold that an establishment that sells beer solely for takeout and prohibits consumption of beer on the premises of the facility does not qualify as a 'retail dispenser' as defined by (state law)."

Stan Sheetz, the president of the company, said the sale of malt beverages at the store will now be suspended.

"The decision made by the state Supreme Court to uphold a lower court's decision and revoke our liquor license for that location is yet another setback in our effort to provide customers the freedom to purchase alcoholic beverages at the convenience restaurant," Sheetz said.

"This decision highlights the outdated and complex nature of the Commonwealth's current liquor laws and the need for legislation to change them. While we are not happy with the Court's latest ruling, we will respect it and cooperate with the PLCB."

A dissent from Justice Michael Eakin said Sheetz should be able to ban on-site drinking if it wants to.

"The statute's plain language clearly does not require sales on-site, nor does it prohibit a retail dispenser from choosing to sell all its beer for take-out, and one requires no 'hyper-technical,' linguistic gymnastics to reach such a plain conclusion," Eakin wrote.

"As there is no rule or restriction, there can be no loophole, and the majority's characterization of the statute as such is misplaced."

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