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    Sheetz Says Bye, Bye Beer

    Alcoholic beverage expiration dates loom while court decision date remains in distant future.

    ALTOONA, Pa. -- With a final decision on the fate of Sheetz convenience restaurant's liquor license here possibly six months away, and sales of the drinks currently suspended, more than 130 varieties of beer were pulled from the store and sent back to the distributor, company officials told The Altoona Mirror.

    "The beer has a short shelf life, and we decided to send it back to the distributors to sell before it expired," Monica Jones, Sheetz spokeswoman, told the newspaper. "Stan [Sheetz, president and chief executive officer] made it clear that we don't expect a decision for at least six months; there is not likely to be a quick turnaround. We can't sell beer without a license."

    The ongoing battle among the convenience store, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) and the Malt Beverage Distributors Association of Pennsylvania (MBDA) has seen beer sales begin and stop twice since the liquor dispensing license was granted in February.

    Sheetz began selling take-out alcoholic beverages with a "retail dispenser" license Feb. 1, which was revoked Feb. 23 by the Commonwealth Court in a ruling that stated the license was not being used properly.

    The license was granted by the PLCB after the store separated the restaurant section from the rest of the business with a dividing wall.

    The plaintiffs in the first case, the Malt Beverage Distributors Association of Pennsylvania, alleged that Sheetz was operating as a beer distributor, and needed to allow on premise consumption to be able to sell take-out beer.

    In response, the PLCB filed an appeal in March against the court decision that revoked the sales. The chain then resumed sales at the store.

    In early April, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson issued an order that upholds the court's original decision that Sheetz' beer sales license requires it to allow alcoholic beverages to be consumed on the premises, and that the store cannot sell the drinks while an appeal is pending.

    Currently, the PLCB asked the State Supreme Court to order a stay on the Commonwealth Court's most recent decision, which would allow the store to resume selling malt beverages at the location until the Supreme Court makes a final decision on the case, the Mirror reported.

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