BLOG: A Rundown of How PA “Freed the Six-Pack”

By: Sophie Stone, Deputy Press Secretary

May 31, 2016

Last week, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board “freed the six-pack” in Pennsylvania by approving pending applications for gas stations to sell up to 192 ounces of malt or brewed beverages.

Here’s a rundown of how Pennsylvania “freed the six-pack,” and what that means for the commonwealth.

I’m hearing a lot about how Pennsylvania “Freed the Six-Pack.” What does that mean?

Last week, following Governor’s Wolf’s request, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board approved nine licenses allowing gas stations to sell beer. These approvals freed the six-pack for certain gas stations with appropriate accommodations that can now to sell six-packs of beer.

Why is this such a big deal?

“Freeing the six-pack” will make the commonwealth more inviting for consumers and businesses by improving customer service and convenience for Pennsylvanians. Here’s what Governor Wolf has to say about it.

What exactly happened at the May 25 PLCB public Board meeting when these licenses were approved?

At the regularly scheduled May 25 Board meeting, nine license applications from businesses that also sell gasoline were considered, eight of which had been held at prior meetings because they did not achieve the required two votes for either approval or denial. Now that the Board is at its full complement of three members, a number of licensing applications that have been awaiting Board action for months may be considered again.

After careful consideration of various factors – including Commonwealth Court precedent upholding the granting of liquor licenses to convenience stores and grocery stores with alcohol sales locations separate from fuel sales operations – the Board unanimously voted to approve these nine license applications:

  • One Malt Beverage Eating Place license:
    • Fast Lane Six Packs To Go, LLC, Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County
  • Two Distributor licenses:
    • Lathia Investments, LLC, Canonsburg, Washington County
    • Save N Go Beer, LLC, Gibsonia, Allegheny County
  • Six Restaurant licenses:
    • Arch Six Packs To Go, LLC, Wyoming, Luzerne County
    • Ohio Springs, Inc. t/a Sheetz, Huntingdon, Huntingdon County
    • SAI Hazleton, LLC, Hazleton, Luzerne County
    • SAI Hess Market, LLC, Orangeville, Columbia County
    • Shivashish, LLC, Plains, Luzerne County
    • VGV Beverages, LLC t/a VGV Beverages, Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County

Since two of the licenses approved are distributor licenses, not all nine of these businesses can sell traditional six-packs. The distributors can sell full cases or original containers containing at least 128 fluid ounces (12-packs). The other seven licensees (restaurant and eating place) may sell up to 192 ounces (two six packs) of beer to go per transaction.

Will there be more licenses like this approved?

Governor Wolf has requested that the PLCB approve similar subsequent applications that otherwise meet PLCB standards. The PLCB Board members have indicated that while each license application is reviewed and evaluated on its own merits, they, too are supportive of additional consumer convenience and growing Pennsylvania commerce.

How soon can these businesses start selling beer?

As soon as each license is administratively finished up and issued to the licensee, that business can start selling beer. This could happen in as little as a day or two following Board approval.

How do additional gas stations get approval for selling beer to go?

A number of different PLCB license types allow for sales of beer, including restaurant, eating place and distributor licenses. Each license type has different qualifications and grants different license privileges.

  • Food & seating for 30 people
  • 400 square feet
  • Wine, liquor and beer sales for on-premises consumption, although many convenience store and grocery store licensees opt only to carry beer
  • Beer sales to-go of up to two six packs per transaction
Eating Place
  • Food & seating for 30 people
  • 300 square feet
  • Beer sales for on-premises consumption
  • Beer sales to-go of up to two six packs per transaction
  • Ownership by PA resident
  • Responsible person of good reputation
  • Can’t hold more than one distributor license
  • Full cases of beer
  • Kegs
  • Other original containers containing at least 128 fluid ounces (commonly 12-packs)

Since the number of licenses available are limited by state law, often the first step for a gas station interested in selling beer is to find an existing license where the licensee is interested in transferring or selling the license. Then a transfer application may be filed with the PLCB.

The PLCB will then investigate the entity, people and location proposed to become licensed, to ensure all requirements are met for the license type.

Approval can happen in as little as 45 days from the date the PLCB receives the application or could take longer, depending on the complexity of the application.

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