‘Brew-aucracy’ Weis still waiting to sell beer

By on January 28, 2015

Weis’ Beer Cafe Still Fermenting in Ephrata

ER Weiss Beer 2014_0128 3

Ephrata-area beer distributors and bar owners were expecting the first competitive Super Bowl Sunday.

But that won’t happen.

The monopoly those merchants hold — due to antiquated Pennsylvania beer sales laws — should have been lost when retailer Weis Market announced it was opening a beer café in Ephrata last summer.

Ephrata Borough Council moved quickly to approve Sunbury-based Weis Markets’ request in August to become the first retail business to sell beer here.

But while there are plenty of lighted beer signs in the window, the 2,300-square-foot beer cafe and refrigerated cases remain empty inside the store at 331 N. Reading Road.

Dennis Curtin, Weis spokesman, said the beer café was expected to open last year but the Pennsylvanis Liquor Control Board has not yet approved the license.

Neither Curtin nor Stacy Kreideman, PLCB spokeswoman, would specify why the process is taking so long.

But Kreideman suggested it shouldn’t be long before the Weis Beer Garden opens in Ephrata.ER Weiss Beer 2014_0128 2

“The application is working its way through the process,” Kreideman said Tuesday. “While it will not go to the board this week, it looks like the application will be prepared for the next session on Feb. 11, at which time the board may vote on the application.”

Beer distributors, which sell only cases of beer, and bars that sell only 6-packs do compete with boutique beer businesses offering six-packs and single beer purchases around Lancaster County.

Those businesses, such as The Fridge and Hunger n Thirst in Lancaster, have grown dramatically in sales and selection, along with several brew pubs like Saint Boniface, Black Forest, Union Barrel and Appalachian Brewing Co. that sell take-out beer in growlers.

But there’s no Ephrata-area retailer selling beer such as supermarkets or convenient stores. Weis was the first to open one in Lancaster County last year at 740 S. Broad St. in Lititz.

Weis plans to duplicate that beer garden in Ephrata, with about 30 feet of space and around 400 different beer varieties.

The cafe will seat 30 and serve foods like rotisserie chicken, pizza and subs. Patrons may buy a maximum of two beers to drink there, and no more than two 6-packs of beer to go.

Cafe hours are expected to be Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. until either 11 p.m. or midnight, and Sunday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Patrick Burns is a staff writer for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455.¶

(Photo by Preston Whitcraft)


Weis Markets’ beer cafe in Ephrata will look like this one in Lititz if the PLCB approves its license application on Feb. 11.

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