INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
A convenience store chain’s attempt to sell cold beer has prompted a heated
reaction from Indiana lawmakers who want to keep a state law limiting
carryout chilled brew sales to liquor stores.
in the state are able to sell warm beer or cold wine - but the sale of cold
beer for carryout long has been reserved for Indiana’s liquor stores, a
right the industry’s powerful lobbyists have fought to protect for years.
convenience store chain Ricker’s bypassed that restriction by obtaining a
license typically reserved for restaurants, after finding its in-store
eateries offering burritos and other Mexican fare qualified it for the
separate liquor license, said Jay Ricker, head of the company.
The strong reaction
from lawmakers - with both House Speaker Brian Bosma and GOP Senate leader
David Long calling for an amendment to be offered next week that prevents
operations such as Ricker’s from selling cold beer - isn’t quite what the
store chain expected.
“This is all about
consumers wanting a product and us offering it,” he said. “We’re not trying
to put somebody else out of business, we’re just trying to offer what people
A spokeswoman for
the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission declined to comment for this story,
citing upcoming legislation on the issue. Republicans in the Statehouse
haven’t been shy commenting on the commission’s decision.
“I think it is a
misinterpretation of the law by the ATC. We want to make sure that stops
right now,” Long said Thursday. “I’m disappointed in the leadership in the
ATC for having made these decisions. But we’ve got to deal with it now, and
we will deal with it.”
The Fort Wayne
lawmaker said he expects an amendment to be introduced in a committee this
“We’re going to
change the law to what the law really is,” Bosma said, adding the commission
has “ignored longstanding policy” from the General Assembly, as well as past
the permits allowing for cold beer sales for two of its 56 locations in
February. The Columbus location opened and began serving alcohol under the
new license March 1, while the Sheridan location began its cold beer sales
earlier this week.
the liquor lobby alerted lawmakers, Jay Ricker said.
A statement from
the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers says the chain is “choosing to
thumb their nose” at the Legislature and courts, citing a ruling that found
the state could prohibit cold beer sales in convenience stores because they
face fewer regulations than a liquor store.
Ricker and Scot
Imus of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association
say they see the move to sell cold beer as a way of evolving to meet
consumer’s needs and survive in changing times.
from cigarettes and gasoline left Ricker looking for an additional source of
income, he said, and a popular ask from customers at his in-store
restaurants was, “Gee, I’d really like to have a cold beer with our food.”
and they’ve had to change,” Imus said. “I can’t think of one retailer that’s
been able to survive and keep current that hasn’t changed, except one: the
package liquor store industry.”