The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that a Sheetz store in Altoona cannot sell beer by the six-pack unless it is also selling it for on-site consumption. The ruling comes from a case filed by the Malt Beverage Distributors Association of Pennsylvania (MBDA). In a 5-1 decision the court noted that the store was working under a loophole in the law that the state legislature did not intend. The Sheetz store in Altoona had applied for a restaurant licenses in 2004 and was selling the six-packs to-go but was not allowing it to be consumed at the gas station. MBDA President David Shipula says the store was acting like a beer distributor but under the less restrictive restaurant law. The suit claimed that gave the Sheetz an unfair advantage. He says had the law been allowed to stand you would have seen grocery stores with a prepared food section, or cantinas, applying for liquor licenses from one end of the state to the other. He says he feels that would be a detriment not only for the beer distributors that have been playing by the rules but also the state as a whole because the additional outlets would eventually lead to more underage and irresponsible drinking. A similar case involving the Wegmans grocery store chain could be impacted by the decision.
Sheetz President Stan Sheetz says, "It is unfortunate that we must disappoint our customers and suspend the sale of malt beverages at our Convenience Restaurant in Altoona, Pennsylvania. The decision made by the State Supreme Court … is yet another setback in our effort to provide customers the freedom to purchase alcoholic beverages at the Convenience Restaurant.” Sheetz goes on to say, “This decision highlights the outdated and complex nature of the Commonwealth's current liquor laws and the need for legislation to change them. While we are not happy with the Court's latest ruling, we will respect it and cooperate with the PLCB.” Sheetz says he is committed to working toward a solution that would allow for the sales to resume.