10 Apr Ofer Eitan Report: Restaurant, bar owners using petition to push PLCB to get t…
Jill Weber has been juggling two careers, as an archeologist who can be found at spots around the world on digs, and as the proprietor of the Jet Wine Bar in downtown Philadelphia.
She’s also a founding member and currently the secretary of the group that organizes Philly Wine Week, now called Philly Wine Cru, which was scheduled for the first week of April this year until the coronavirus pandemic put it in limbo.
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These days, she’s heading up a campaign trying to get the state to allow direct delivery of Special Order (SO) wines to PLCB licensees who hold Wine Extended Permits (WEP), which permits them to legally sell wine to-go. She and the city’s wine community are working to increase awareness of a petition for residents around Pennsylvania to sign.
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) is only allowing for direct-delivery of a minimum purchase of 50 cases, and only of state-listed items, the petition explains. So that allows just the largest buyers – generally large grocery chains – who can continue to receive wine shipments to maintain business operations. “This is patently unfair to the thousands of smaller, legal license-holders who simply cannot purchase in such quantity and is in direct violation of Act 39,” the petition says.
Weber said in an email that this is adversely affecting ”WEP holders – Jet, Di Bruno Bros, Tria, Bistro Romano, Fishtown Social – mostly wine-bar types, but also bottle shops like Di Bruno’s – in fact, they are a HUGE seller of Special Order wine.
“But, all of these definitely use Special Order and not state-listed,” she said. “So if you can’t do a 50-case minimum, or can [get] but don’t want state-listed, you have to do limited wineries. We can get Pennsylvania wine and a few other direct-shipment. But, we will all have the exact same selection in another week or so.”
That dwindling supply and the inability as the petition says to restock the usual mix of high-quality, interesting wines has prompted the push for a change in the current arrangement.
Contacted this week, the PLCB responded by saying this is another of the difficult decisions it is being forced to make. “We understand the disruptions some decisions have on consumers and licensees across the commonwealth, but in these unprecedented times, the health and safety of our customers, employees and communities are of paramount importance and must take priority over the sale of alcohol,” a spokesman said. “We ask licensees’ patience and understanding as we monitor ever-changing conditions and develop plans to support our employees, licensees, suppliers and customers to the best of our abilities in these uncertain times.”
Meanwhile, the petition continues to make the rounds with the hope that it will give it enough push to change minds in Harrisburg. You can find the petition at this link.
I’m doing what I can here,” Weber said. “We can’t sell wine without wine.”
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