Giant Food Store on Oxford Valley Road obtains liquor license for beer and wine sales
By Samantha Bambino
A little more than a year ago, the ShopRite of Fairless Hills became one of several hot spot grocery stores in Bucks County to boast a vast selection of beer and wine, much to the community’s excitement. So it came as a shock when the Giant Food Store, located a mere three-minute drive away on South Oxford Valley Road, didn’t immediately jump on the bandwagon and obtain a liquor license.
After much discussion and consideration, the Falls Township supervisors finally set the wheels in motion for the Giant location to offer beer and wine sales. During a recent board meeting, they unanimously approved the transfer of a liquor license from Nockamixon Township to the Falls Giant Food Store, 471 S. Oxford Valley Road. The transfer makes it the first major store in Falls to operate with a liquor license.
The inter-municipal liquor license transfer was approved following a public hearing, which drew no public comment or questions. According to township attorney Mike Clarke, a hearing is required when the receiving municipality has equal or more liquor licenses than the state-allotted one per every 3,000 residents, which is the case for Falls.
Giant attorney Ellen Freeman explained the license permits the grocery store to create a 30-seat restaurant area where customers can buy and consume alcohol along with hot buffet food items and various entrees, as well as enjoy a grab and go station. Customers would only be permitted to drink alcohol onsite if food items were purchased as well.
The state requires a minimum of 30 seats, though Freeman said some Giant stores opt for bar seating while others use tables and chairs. In both setups, the store permits customers to consume a maximum of two beers onsite. Store personnel undergo special training to determine if someone is intoxicated and how to spot a fraudulent ID. According to Freeman, Giant has a 100 percent carding policy, which means every customer is asked for identification at the time of purchase.
“It takes all the gray area out of selling alcohol,” she said. “It protects the public as well to be sure that everyone is carded.”
Freeman went on to tell the board how alcohol sales account for about 5 percent of Giant’s total sales. For supervisor chairman Bob Harvie, the liquor license transfer wasn’t exactly a no-brainer at first as he questioned the need to add 30 seats.
“It seems a pretty large investment for 5 percent of your business,” he said.
Though small, the 5 percent is still a profit.
At the Falls Giant, beer and wine will be available for carryout, but quantities will be limited to two six-packs of beer or four standard bottles of wine. Alcohol sales will be permitted only at cash registers within the designated restaurant area and only between the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. After those times, the beer and wine aisles will be chained off and alcoholic beverages will be locked.
Similar setups are currently in place at the 64 other Giant stores statewide that offer beer and wine sales. According to Freeman, none of these 64 have ever been cited, with each location working diligently to ensure residents’ safety and convenience concerning the consumption and purchasing of alcohol.
“They have a perfect record,” she said.
The Falls Township Giant is currently waiting on final approval from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board before it can begin selling beer and wine. ••
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org