When Wawa Inc. won preliminary approval from Concord Township in August to begin selling six-packs of beer in one Delaware County store, beer lovers among the Wawa fanatics around the region rejoiced.
Then they waited.
Months passed and no beer came. They waited some more.
While the wait isn't quite over, Wawa said Wednesday that it had moved an important step closer to stocking brews on its shelves.
For months, the convenience-store chain has been at odds with the Concord Board of Supervisors over nearly two dozen restrictions imposed by the township as conditions to sell beer at the store on Naamans Creek Road in Chadds Ford.
On Tuesday, the standstill ended. Some of the restrictions were amended, the company said, and Wawa and the township finally have an agreement.
Wawa still must get approval from the state. It has not yet applied, said spokeswoman Lori Bruce.
An expert on Pennsylvania liquor law said approval is likely.
"They already came to terms with the municipality, and that's a huge step," said Ron Sofranko, principal of Sofranko Advisory Group, a Wexford-based firm that specializes in business planning and the buying and selling of liquor licenses.
A spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board said each application is evaluated on an individual basis.
Typically, Sofranko said, applicants are denied by the state only if they are found to have a history of red flags: back taxes, felony convictions, reports of being a rowdy or nuisance restaurant or bar, he said.
"None of those are things Wawa will likely face," Sofranko said. An approval by the LCB typically comes between 45 to 60 days after an application is submitted, he said.
Bruce said Wednesday that Wawa viewed its application as limited to the Chadds Ford store. Last summer, she said Wawa might "look to expand the offering depending on our experience" at the Delaware County location.
Concord supervisors could not be reached for comment.
Wawa, like many other convenience stores and grocery chains in Pennsylvania, has been working to elbow its way into a market long dominated by beer distributors.
The chain once sold beer at a Spruce Street store near the University of Pennsylvania, starting in 1986. But it lost that license in 2003 after the store was cited for sales to minors.
To comply with Pennsylvania liquor laws, supermarkets and convenience stores have added "restaurant" components to enable them to sell beer. More than 250 have done so.
To meet state requirements, Wawa must build a separate eating space measuring 400 square feet and have enough seating for 30 people. Construction will come in the next few months, Bruce said.
Once completed, customers will be able to drink one beer per day in the restaurant area, Bruce said. Customers will be limited to carrying out two six-packs.
Bruce did not offer a timeline for when Wawa will file its application with the state. "We're just pleased everything is resolved," she said.