Garces Trading Company opened six months ago at 1111 Locust St. to great fanfare, not only for the tasty eats from Philly's Iron Chef but for the first-of-its-kind wine shop operated therein by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Plaudits burbled forth: A BYOB restaurant with one-stop shopping! Buy your vino and simply stroll to a table! Enjoy, enjoy -- no corkage! No mark-ups!

The joy was lost, however, on rival restaurateurs -- e.g. bars that have to pay for licensing and insurance for their own state-sanctioned operations. They sued, complaining that the LCB had unleveled the playing field.

Garces was not and is not a party to the suit, which is pending in Common Pleas Court.

Now another shoe has dropped:

Garces has applied for a liquor license for Garces Trading Co.

Garces has not returned repeated requests for comment, but people close to him say he does not want to set up a drinking bar at Garces Trading and intends to keep the arrangement status quo.

Then why seek a license? Perhaps it's a preemptive move, if the court forces the LCB to shut down the wine shop. Or maybe Garces wants to hedge his bets if the LCB decides to pull out of the arrangement; it can take months to secure a license for his cafe/restaurant. * Or maybe he wants to serve specialty cocktails from a service bar.

The LCB's pulling out is less likely. At my request, the LCB provided sales figures for a week in June: $18,961 in wine, or 1,335 bottles, sold to 815 customers -- a volume that an LCB spokeswoman described as "fabulous." (Bear in mind that the LCB pays $1,500 a month in rent on the 600-square-foot room, according to the lease.) I have not seen comparative sales figures for the state's wine boutique at 12th and Chestnut Streets, so I can't tell if this new shop is cannibalizing sales there.

As for Garces: To get his license for GTC, he will have to go before the Washington Square West Civic Association, which happens to be a plaintiff in the suit against the LCB. WashWest accused the LCB of high-handedly authorizing the wine shop in the first place.

* Post updated.