The following is a statement from Stan Sheetz, President and CEO of Sheetz, Inc. on the issue of beer and alcohol sales legislation in Pennsylvania:
The Pennsylvania State Supreme Court recently ruled against Sheetz and revoked our license to sell beer at our Convenience Restaurant in Altoona. As a result, we are disappointed that we must stop the sale of alcohol to our restaurant customers and feel this ruling sheds light on the backward, outdated nature of Pennsylvania’s beer and alcohol laws. This case reveals the need for legislative reform.
When we originally applied for our E license to sell beer at our restaurant, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) indicated that we did not need to sell for on-premise consumption. In fact, the PLCB had never required any of the hundreds of E licensees across the state to do so. That contention came from the Malt Beverage Distributors Association (MBDA).
The MBDA has a powerful lobby that has for many years kept Pennsylvania as one of only a handful of states in the entire country that does not allow the purchase of beer at a grocery or convenience store. Insisting that we sell for on-premise consumption is a veiled attempt to hide behind a set of archaic laws that benefit its members yet continues to restrict the freedom of Pennsylvanians to purchase beer in a more convenient setting, during more convenient hours.
Sheetz is a responsible retailer of alcoholic beverages in five other states and we are committed to taking steps to ensure the responsible sale of beer to customers who are of legal age. At our Altoona restaurant, employees had to be certified in Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS) and the Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP). These courses are conducted by PLCB approved trainers and are proven to reduce alcohol related accidents. Sheetz also gives financial support to national organizations working toward the prevention of alcohol related accidents. This is how beer should be sold.
Ironically, the nature of the complaint put forth against us by the MBDA contradicts the biggest concern that has been expressed — allowing Sheetz to sell beer will increase drunk driving. Yet they want to force us to allow people to drink at our restaurant and then drive home. The MBDA asserts that keeping sales under its control will curb under-aged drinking and drunk driving. This runs counterintuitive to common sense and reveals the hypocrisy of the MBDA’s argument for on-premise consumption — from a group whose members include drive-thru distributors. Our belief in prohibiting on-premise consumption is the more responsible approach.
We are only one of a few states that continue to operate under a Prohibition-era set of laws, while millions of people across the United States enjoy the freedom and convenience of purchasing alcohol in convenience and grocery stores. Granting this same freedom is long overdue here in Pennsylvania and we urge our state’s leaders to see past state lines and modernize our beer and alcohol laws for the benefit of the people in the commonwealth who choose to consume this legal beverage. Please write your State Legislators and ask them to consider beer reform.