For years, only liquor stores in Indiana were able to sell cold, carryout beer to customers. Small convenience stores were limited to keeping only warm beer on their shelves, until some people started thinking creatively.
Jay Ricker, head of the family-owned chain of Ricker’s stores, started to include small, fast-food style restaurants in his convenience stores. These restaurants served Tex-Mex food like burritos and nachos to customers who were either coming in exclusively for the food or ordering a dish in conjunction with picking up other items from the store. Ricker’s has tables located within their stores, and they provide a limited table-side service.
A few weeks ago, Ricker’s applied for a liquor license and were approved. They began selling cold beer, as long as it was delivered straight to the customer sitting at a table. People were free to drink their beer at their tables or bring it home or to a different location with them. So far, it’s been met with positive reviews from most customers.
However, certain lawmakers were not happy with this development, since Ricker’s is really a convenience store more than a restaurant.
Debates were held before legislators voted on whether to continue to allow these type of alcohol sales. They discussed whether they should reword the law to prohibit convenience stores (with restaurants inside them) from selling cold beer for carryout purposes. During this time, Ricker’s brought a food truck to the capitol building to show just how serious they are about their restaurant side of business.
The latest vote directed the legislators to clarify the policy for selling cold beer for carryout customers. Until that is cleared up, anyone with an existing alcohol permit can continue to go about their business. However, when those permits are up, they would have to reapply. Because the liquor store lobby is more powerful than that of the convenience stores, many believe that the laws will be tightened up.