ABC Issues New Rules for Retail Liquor Stores within 500 Feet of Food Stores

ABC Issues New Rules for Retail Liquor Stores within 500 Feet of Food Stores

The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission has issued new rules for the controversial 500 foot notice.  Under prior rules, a liquor store had to give written blanket approval to any food store located within 500 feet of a food store, allowing the grocery store to start selling wine on July 1, 2016.  The rule included other methods of notice - but following the rule was the prescribed way to authorize a retail liquor store to sell beer, corkscrews and other items allowed under WIGS beginning July 1, 2014.

We applauded the ABC Director for implementing clear rules, but some industry members have been lobbying for a different rule.  The Director's detractors appear to have emerged victorious in this round.  The following was posted this afternoon on the ABC website under news:

"For Information Purposes Only

Today, Friday, June 27, 2014, Commissioner and staff members of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission meet with sponsors and members of the Tennessee General Assembly, their staff and representatives of Tennessee's retail liquor stores and Tennessee's food stores in order to discern the legislative intent of PC 554, 2014, the WIGS legislation. After considerable discussion, it was determined and concluded that:

 TCA 57-3-404(e)(2) and TCA 57-3-404(e)(4), as amended in Section 10 of PC 554, 2014, effective July 1, 2014, authorizes an off-premises retailer, licensed pursuant to TCA 57-3-204, (retailer), to begin selling at retail, on Tuesday, July 1, 2014, beer and other malt beverages as well as merchandise and supplies related to special events or parties (as enumerated but not limited to the items noted in the amended TCA 57-3-404(e)(4)), without a requirement of the retailer granting permission to food stores located within 500 feet of the retailer to sell wine.
Please note that the amended TCA 57-3-404(e)(2) and TCA 57-3-404(e)(4) granting authorizations as noted above in number 1, DO NOT remove prohibitions in any lease an off-premises retailer, licensed pursuant to TCA 57-3-204, may have with their landlord. Generally, restrictive covenants between contracting tenants and landlords are valid and a breach of such restrictive covenant may prompt a civil action by the offended party.

It was further determined that before any off-premises retailer, licensed pursuant to TCA 57-3-204, (retailer), may begin deliveries of alcoholic beverages that such retailers must comply with the requirements regarding transportation of alcoholic beverages within the State of Tennessee as enumerated at TCA 57-3-401 et seq."

Complicating all of this is the impending July 4 holiday, which brings a big boost to liquor and beer sales. Punk masters X penned a classic Fourth of July song:

On the stairs I smoke a
cigarette alone
Mexican kids are shootin'
fireworks below
Hey baby, it's the Fourth of July
Hey baby, Baby take a walk outside

We are still digesting the comments concerning delivery.  Notably absent is any guidance for whether an order can be placed over the phone or internet.  No one goes to Dominos to pay for a pizza and then goes home to wait for the pizza guy to deliver the pizza.  But that was the original rule articulated by the ABC - sales have to be completed at the store.

More to follow.

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