Beer Sales Backed at Wegmans

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld beer sales at Wegmans’ in-store restaurants, unanimously affirming a lower court’s decision granting liquor licenses to five of the restaurants that the Rochester, N.Y.-based grocer operates at all 14 of its Pennsylvania stores.

The Malt Beverage Distributors Association challenged the legality of selling beer at cafes attached by an interior passageway to their grocery stores, located in Williamsport, Wilkes-Barre, State College, Bethlehem and Easton, Pa.

The Supreme Court said Wegmans’ restaurants were in place before the grocer applied for the liquor licenses, are “vastly larger and more sophisticated” than the minimum requirements for restaurants and “easily satisfy” all other legal and regulatory requirements, the Associated Press reported. Justices acknowledged their ruling may signal an expansion of large businesses opening restaurants and seeking liquor licenses for them.

Wegmans legal counsel R.J. O’Hara told the AP that the ruling is good news for dozens of businesses whose plans for similar restaurants have been challenged and were put on hold pending resolution of this case.

Robert Hoffman, attorney for the beer distributors, said the ruling puts his clients at a competitive disadvantage because supermarkets can offer “a zillion things to get you in the door,” the AP reported.