NEW YORK — Beer is the best cure for a wine law hanging over Whole Foods here. It began offering six local brews on tap and 200 types of bottled beer for off-premises consumption last month in its Beer Room, part of Whole Food's Bowery store in Manhattan.
Beer might not have been Whole Foods' first choice.
“The hardest thing we've found in New York City is we really want to have a store that sells wine,” said John Mackey, chairman and chief executive officer, during an earnings call in July. “We're very frustrated, because the city keeps blocking us … particularly when Trader Joe's got their license. Hopefully, we will get that for the Upper West Side.”
Whole Foods is developing a store on Manhattan's Upper West Side.
There is no limit on the number of off-premises beer licenses food retailers in New York state can obtain; however, stores may only be granted one license to sell wine, “provided it's sold in a separate wine shop that has its own outside entrance and there is no internal entrance linking the two stores,” said Jim Rogers, president and CEO, Food Industry Alliance of New York State.
The license allowed Trader Joe's to open a wine shop beside its Union Square store in Manhattan last year.
Whole Foods got a license for its Columbus Circle Manhattan store, but had to close its wine shop in May 2005 since the shop lacked a separate street-level entrance.