Sheetz Pa. Beer Sales Begin

First alcohol purchase rolls out door of convenience restaurant

ALTOONA, Pa. -- On Thursday, Sheetz began selling beer and malt-based coolers at its convenience restaurant in its home town of Altoona, Pa. The first beer sale, a 12-pack of Coors Light, went out the door about 2 p.m., moments after president and CEO Stan Sheetz, at an onsite press conference, made the announcement officially announcing the availability of alcohol at that location.

The convenience retailer was officially granted a malt beverage license for the restaurant location by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. The license allows carry out [image-nocss] sales of beer in six-packs of 12-oz. or 16-oz. bottles or 12-packs of 10-oz., 12-oz. or 16-oz. bottles. No 40-oz. individual bottles will be sold. Sheetz will not allow consumption of alcohol on the premises.

The Sheetz convenience restaurant is a 10,000-square-foot facility, more than double the size of a typical Sheetz store. It has a full espresso bar, indoor seating for 54 guests, as well as a drive thru, among oiher features.

The ability to sell beer in this special location is a long-awaited effort for Sheetz. We strive to provide customers with products and services that make their lives easier, said Stan Sheetz. For our customers who buy beer, it is an added convenience for them to be able to purchase it at our restaurant [for later consumption] when they come in for dinner or to pick up other items.

While Sheetz already has licenses to sell alcohol in 107 of its stores in Maryland, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, this is a first in Pennsylvania.

The company said it is committed to being a responsible retailer of alcohol at all of its locations. Before a Sheetz employee can sell alcohol or tobacco, he or she must be trained and certified in several training programs. The Sheetz internal computer-based training provides intensive instruction on the responsible handling of beer and tobacco sales. Sheetz uses a third-party company called Heath Solutions to put employees through two additional training programs called Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP) and Training for Intervention ProcedureS (TIPS). These classes are designed to teach frontline retail and hospitality workers how to sell alcohol responsibly.

The sale of age-restricted products is something that we take very seriously at Sheetz, added Stan Sheetz. We have a long history and a lot of experience dealing with the sale of age-restricted products, including beer and we have always been committed to being a responsible retailer. It will be no different at the Altoona Convenience Restaurant.

Sheetz held one of its RAMP/TIPS training sessions after the press conference. It opened that session to media and law enforcement officials to demonstrate to the local community how serious Sheetz is about being a responsible retailer of alcohol in Pennsylvania.

It is doubtful that Sheetz will try to sell beer at its other 192 locations, Stan Sheetz told The Altoona Mirror, which chronicled the first sale. Only a handful of locations meet state restaurant-size requirements: 300 square feet and at least 30 seats. [If we have more], it will be very few and far between, he said.

It isn't the first time that Sheetz has sold beer in Pennsylvania, said the report. It held beer licenses for its Sandwich Saloons and Chicken Charlie's in the 1980s. You'll find a lot more items here than you did with a Sandwich Saloon and Chicken Charlie's, Chairman Steve Sheetz told the paper. Obviously we had to separate them in terms of purchase, but it was still a combined mission.

While Sandwich Saloon and Chicken Charlie's had separate entrances and a common wall, this separation was more problematic, the report said. Sheetz worked out an agreement with the state that included nine provisions that were not necessarily part of Pennsylvania statutes, Stan Sheetz said. The company placed a speed bump between the gasoline island and the store as a separation barrier. It also separated business records and deeds between the fuel and convenience restaurant businesses, vice president and general counsel Mike Cortez said.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board did an excellent job of trying to understand our business and our mission, he told the paper.

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