Beer lovers and Wawa fanatics are one step closer to being able to carry out six-packs of beer with their hoagies and groceries from one Delaware County store.
At a meeting Tuesday, the Concord Township Board of Supervisors announced its approval of Wawa Inc.'s request to sell beer at its store on Naamans Creek Road in Chadds Ford.
The decision does not mean shoppers can start flocking to the store for brews. Wawa still needs approval from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
The timeline for a decision from the state depends on many factors, said a spokeswoman for the LCB.
Wawa has said its foray into the beer market would be limited to Chadds Ford. Depending on its experience there, however, the company "may look to expand the offering," a Wawa spokeswoman said last month.
Shoppers have long questioned the chain's absence in the beer market. In Concord, supermarkets including Whole Foods, Acme, and Giant sell six-packs. A Wegmans store, slated to open in the fall, won approval to do so earlier this year.
Wawa's request has not been without protest. Beer distributors, who have long capitalized on state liquor laws that force shoppers to buy beer in bulk, worry that sales of six-packs might erode their business. And some Concord residents told supervisors in June that beer sales at Wawa might encourage loitering, littering, and rowdy behavior.
Wawa has sold beer in the past in Pennsylvania, with mixed results. In 1986, the company was licensed to sell beer at a Spruce Street store near the University of Pennsylvania campus. Its renewal was denied in 2003 after the location was cited for sales to minors.
This is the company's first bid to sell alcohol in the state since. Shoppers would be restricted to buying two six-packs at a time.
If approved, the Chadds Ford location will join nearly 250 supermarkets, convenience stores, and delis across Pennsylvania that in recent years have been disrupting a field long dominated by laws that many have called archaic.
For decades, beer drinkers in Pennsylvania had two options when wanting to bring brews home: Buy a case or keg from a distributor, or purchase no more than two six-packs from a restaurant or tavern.
But amid growing efforts statewide to revise liquor laws - some in place since 1933 - other vendors have elbowed their way into beer sales by adding restaurant facilities.
To comply with state requirements, Wawa would have to create a separate restaurant space within its store, measuring at least 400 square feet - with a separate entrance, a separate cash register, and seating for 30 people - where beer can be served.
Along with buying six-packs, customers would be able to purchase one beer a day and drink it in the restaurant area.
The Board of Supervisors tacked on its own stipulations Tuesday: No outdoor seating, and no beer on tap.
Wawa must also install security cameras, the supervisors said, and, pending approval from the state, must contribute $15,000 to the township to be put toward traffic and pedestrian improvements along Route 202.