After Athens City Council declared it would be fighting Chipotle’s, application for a liquor license in October, the outlook for other Athens businesses hoping to serve alcohol looked bleak.
But at council’s Jan. 5 meeting, the reading of Kroger’s application for D5 and D6 liquor licenses went over without any conflicting discussion.
Kroger’s liquor license application would allow for the sale of beer, wine and low-proof liquor for consumption and carryout, Mullins said. The grocer already sells low-proof liquor, beer and wine in sealed containers for carryout.
Matt Mullins, spokesman for the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, explained the D5 license would give Kroger “full liquor sales privileges Monday through Saturday, 2:30 a.m.,” while the D6 license would allow the grocery store to serve and sell on Sundays as well.
The concept of sipping while shopping, he admits, is unusual, though not entirely unheard of.
Kroger, 919 E. State St., applied for the license on Dec. 22, and Mullins said it could take until early-to-mid March for it to be approved.
Councilwoman Chris Fahl, D-4th Ward, who opposed Chipotle’s D5 liquor license request, said that Kroger’s request was more favorable because the grocery store was just asking to serve more alcohol during its Saturday wine-tasting sessions.
“It’s doing its due diligence so it can provide a service,” Fahl said.
Fahl said Kroger might be the only place in town that holds wine tastings.
“It’s not like they’re going to turn into a bar,” Fahl said.
But Kroger spokeswoman Jennifer Jarrell said that might be in the grocery store’s future.
“We don’t have any immediate plans to put in a bar,” Jarrell said. “But we’re thinking ahead to the future.”
Jarrell said only one Kroger store in the state currently contains a bar, though two other stores are currently awaiting proper licensing from the state.
“When you’re talking about a full glass, we only have one store currently where we’re doing that,” Jarrell said.
The store containing the bar is located in Columbus, Jarrell said.
“You can shop while drinking beer,” she said.
Athens’ Kroger currently has a D8 license, which allows store employees to give patrons samples for tasting only.
Jarrell said it’s up to the discretion of employees to decide how many tastings a patron can have and that the grocery store doesn’t have a set number of samples that a shopper can be served.
“The intent is not for people to become intoxicated,” Jarrell said. “Employees have to be cognizant of not over-serving customers.”