The chairman of the House Liquor Committee withdrew from its consideration today a Bill sponsored by Rep. Craig Staats (R-Bucks) that would have allowed supermarkets and other restaurant licensees to sell unlimited quantities of beer.
H.B. 1897 was withdrawn from consideration as a result of strong opposition led by the MBDA, which included the unions that represent both state store workers and their managers, and PANCO.
Frank Pistella, president of MBDA, was in Harrisburg leading our team of lobbyists. It was particularly helpful to our team that a large number of our member-distributors had already done significant outreach to those committee members with whom they had a relationship. “I really never appreciated that the best outreach for MBDA comes from our members directly to their representatives”, Pistella said. “These contacts are a key to our success.”
The irony of the Staats Bill – intended to allow supermarkets and other R sellers to sell unlimited packages up to 192 ounces – is that it was supported by both the Tavern and Restaurant Associations, both of which organizations have seen their members off-premises sales and gross margins decline because of grocery and convenience stores entry into the marketplace. A recent article, written by Tavern Officers and published in PennLive – plus carried on the Tavern web site – says, “Big-box retailers and mega-grocery chains have made out like bandits, but tavern owners have been ignored.”
They added, “The state passed Act 39, which allows grocery stores to snatch up beer-to-go licenses. … In the past two years, we’ve seen a steady decline of 15 percent annually in our beer-to-go sales. Already this year, we’ve seen a much larger decline. Right now, we barely break even at BrewTaGo (the bottle shop they operate).” Not mentioned in the article is the decline in their sales margins – some small restaurants are seeing few sales.
Meanwhile, the committee reported out a PANCO-supported bill (HB 1741, Marshall, R-Butler), which allows clubs to sell beer to go for the entire period they are open. It was reported out with 16 votes, two more than needed.