D.C. pharmacies seek grocery-store status to sell beer, wine

By |
Local,DC,Eric P. Newcomer

It has been getting easier to buy alcoholic drinks in the District lately, but the two Connecticut Avenue pharmacies that are trying to join the beer-selling hordes will need to show that they're full-service grocery stores to get a Class B license.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is considering whether to allow the two businesses ??-- a Walgreens by the Van Ness Metro station and a CVS in Woodley Park -- to sell wine and beer.

The District has a moratorium on Class B licenses. However, there is an exception for full-service grocery stores.

There are already two Walgreens and one CVS in the city with licenses to sell beer and wine. But the Walgreens at 4225 Connecticut Ave. NW and the CVS at 2601 Connecticut Ave. NW still have their applications pending, hanging on whether the board considers them to be full-service grocery stores.

The board's definition, published in the D.C. Register, contains a number of provisions, including that a store sells a broad selection of fresh, canned and frozen food and that the sale of beer and wine makes up less than 15 percent of the store's total receipts.

The board has scheduled a pubic hearing on the definition of a full-service grocery store for Feb. 28 at 1:30 p.m.

Employees at both pharmacies seeking the Class B licenses referred questions to their corporate offices. Neither corporate office responded to a request for comment.

While those two pharmacies are lobbying to sell beer and wine any day of the week, other businesses -- with Class A licenses -- started last weekend to sell liquor on Sundays.

The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration has given approval for Sunday sales of hard alcohol to more than 30 businesses since it began approving applications Jan. 30.

"People who wanted to buy liquor on a Sunday had to go to Maryland," said Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham, who sponsored the legislation that allowed Sunday liquor sales. "Why are we sending our people to Maryland to buy alcohol?"

enewcomer@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment