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PLCB license auction could mean more beer cafes at area grocery stores

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An employee rings up the sale of a 12-pack of Miller Lite at a previously opened beer cafe in Weis Markets in Allentown.
An employee rings up the sale of a 12-pack of Miller Lite at a previously opened beer cafe in Weis Markets in Allentown. - (Photo / )

Are more grocery store and mini market beer and wine cafes on the way?

It’s possible.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has just issued an invitation for bids for 50 expired restaurant licenses in 40 counties. Several of the licenses are available in the Greater Lehigh Valley

This is the fourth license auction since Act 39 became effective in August 2016, which allowed for the sale of wine at restaurant- and hotel-licensed facilities in the state.

While the PLCB said it can’t comment on who may apply for the licenses, a check of past auctions of these licenses shows primary interest has come from grocers.

Greater Lehigh Valley applicants for the licenses in the last auction were Redner’s Markets Inc., Giant Food Stores LLC, Weis Markets Inc. and one from Turkey Hill LP.

Only one private party bid on a license in the Greater Lehigh Valley during the last auction. Paresh Patel bid on a license in Bethlehem. The license, however, was also intended for beer sales at a food market.

While many of these stores have already added beer and wine cafes to their stores, most have reported success with those endeavors in previous interviews with Lehigh Valley Business and expressed plans to expand the number of beer cafes across their footprints.

According to the PLCB, there are two licenses available in each Berks, Northampton, Monroe and Montgomery counties. Lehigh and Bucks counties each have one license available in the current auction.

The average bid for a license in the last auction was about $150,000, with higher bids for licenses in urban areas such as Allentown and lower bids for smaller municipalities such as Pine Grove.

The auction will again use a sealed bid process, which has successfully awarded 124 licenses in the previous three auctions.

Bids for the 50 licenses offered in this restaurant license auction are due by noon Nov. 9.

Bids will be opened Nov. 16, and auction winners will be determined soon after.

The highest responsive bidder for each license will win the right to submit an application for the license to the PLCB within six months of the auction award.

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Stacy Wescoe

Stacy Wescoe

Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter at @morestacy and on Facebook. Circle Stacy Wescoe on .

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