Grocery stores can now apply to sell beer, wine in Ward 4

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Dupont Circle's Safeway is located at 17th and Corcoran streets NW. (Brian Kapur/The Current/June 2017)

New or renovated full-service grocery stores can now apply to sell beer and wine in Ward 4 under a new law that took effect recently.

The Ward 4 Full-Service Grocery Store Amendment Act of 2017 was passed by the D.C. Council and signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser on Dec. 20, 2017 and expands the area where Class B retailer licenses for businesses that qualify as full-service grocery stores can be issued in Ward 4.

Under the previous law, new alcohol licenses could not be issued to full-service grocery stores located in Ward 4, with one exception. Specifically, only new or renovated full-service grocery stores located within Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4C07 were permitted to obtain a Class B license to sell beer and wine, provided that the store did not devote more than 3,000 square feet of space to alcoholic beverage sales.

The new law expands the exemption to allow any full-service grocery store located in Ward 4 to apply for the issuance of a Class B off-premises retailer’s license. The measure also eliminates any restrictions on the amount of space a Ward 4 full-service grocery store can dedicate to alcoholic beverage sales.

In addition, the changes allow new or renovated grocery stores in Ward 4 to sell growlers of beer and wine for off-premises consumption. Full-service grocery stores located in Ward 4 would still be prohibited from selling single containers of beer, malt liquor or ale in sizes of 70 ounces or less.

Full-service grocery stores are defined by District law as licensed grocery stores that offer a full line of food products, including products from at least six of seven required categories, and provide those products in a required amount of dedicated selling space.