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Weis Markets : Ephrata Weis Plans Beer Cafe ; Supermarket Chain Says Paucity Of Liquor Licenses Is Reason There Aren't More.

08/05/2014 | 08:58am US/Eastern

Staff Writer

Weis Markets is planning to open a second in-store Beer Cafe in Lancaster County.

The supermarket chain has enjoyed better-than-expected sales at the Beer Cafe in its Lititz store, and it is planning to build another at its Ephrata location as part of an overall renovation, spokesman Dennis Curtin said.

Weis hopes to begin selling beer there this fall, he said.

The Ephrata Review, part of Lancaster Newspapers Inc., first reported Weis' plans Wednesday.

The Lititz Weis began selling alcohol in March, becoming the first and so far the only supermarket in Lancaster County to do so.

A major reason there aren't more, Curtin said: the limited availability of licenses.

State law restricts the number of licenses per county to roughly 1 per 3,000 residents, according to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Existing licenses don't become available that often, and there's huge demand for them when they do.

People like the convenience of buying beer at the supermarket, Curtin said. They also like having a large selection, he said.

Weis sells 600 varieties at its Lititz Beer Cafe, up from 400 when it opened.

They include brands from mainstream to micro, including Lancaster County brews such as Stoudts and Lancaster Brewing Co.

Weis hopes to begin its renovations in Ephrata sometime this month, Curtin said. He declined to disclose the cost, but said they will be extensive.

The 35-seat cafe at the Route 272 store will have a separate entrance and separate cash registers from the main section of the supermarket, as state regulations require.

Weis plans to operate it under a license acquired from a Pizza Hut in Columbia.

Customers will be able to buy beer for on-site consumption and up to two six-packs at a time for takeout.

The transfer requires borough approval under state law.

Ephrata's Development Activities Committee plans to consider the license transfer at a work session Monday. If it moves forward, council would be able to vote on it at its meeting Aug. 11.

Weis has 20 Beer Cafes and plans to roll out more. It holds 26 licenses, according to the LCB.

Giant Food Stores, Wegmans and other chains have similar setups at a number of their larger stores, though not in Lancaster County so far.

Late last month, Sheetz began selling beer at its new location in Shippensburg, the first convenience store in central Pennsylvania to do so. Sheetz sells beer at one other location, in Altoona.

Statewide, there are 212 restaurant liquor licenses held by supermarkets, groceries and convenience stores, the LCB said.

In Lancaster County, that includes Hunger 'N' Thirst, which has a bottle shop and gourmet market as well as a restaurant at its location on Landis Avenue near Harrisburg Pike.

(c) 2014 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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