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Ricker's Can Keep Selling Cold Beer For Now Under Bill Change

Two Ricker’s convenience stores will be able to continue selling cold beer for the rest of the year under an amendment approved in a House committee.

Ricker’s used a legal loophole to sell cold beer at small burrito stands in two of its stores. Cold beer carryout sales are supposed to be the sole right of liquor stores and restaurants.

Outside of the Statehouse this afternoon, a Ricker's food truck served food to a line of customers. It highlighted a point the convenience store chain is trying to drive home with legislators.

Chairman Jay Ricker says the stores serve made-to-order food, so they should be able to sell cold beer.

“So, the message we’re trying to send to the legislature is, this is not a microwave oven, folding chairs and tables, and some food that we thawed out for the day," Ricker says. "These are made to order as we stand here right now.”

A House committee amendment would let Ricker’s keep its two permits. But when those permits are up for renewal at year’s end, the rules would be different.

Committee Chair Ben Smaltz’s (R-Auburn) amendment says that cold beer carryout is not intended for grocery, convenience, specialty food, or drug stores.

“I think it’s important that we stop what is going on now, reflect on it over the summer, try and find a solution to the permits going forward,” Smaltz says.

Smaltz’s amendment also says that, to sell cold beer for carryout, retailers must make at least 30 percent of their sales from alcohol consumed on-site.

Rep. Terri Austin (D-Anderson) calls the changes unfair.

“We’re coming in and changing the rules of the games on them … we would never do that to any other industry,” Austin says.

Jay Ricker reacted to the bill, saying, "[T]his hastily done amendment has all kinds of unintended consequences that will hurt a lot of business, not just mine, but a lot of businesses."

Several lawmakers stressed the need to do a comprehensive overhaul of Indiana’s alcohol laws.

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