You may have seen the cover of the Daily News the other day, which featured a story from Joe Sixpack about the rollout of numerous pop-up beer gardens in the city. But how, Joe Sixpack wondered, in a state where the PLCB often rules with an iron fist, can these be allowed to happen?
“All it takes is a one-page application with none of the lengthy red tape and criminal background checks applicants normally face.
The discount license is an unforeseen product of a 2012 liquor code amendment crafted by the Legislature to make it easier for licensees to cater one-day private events.
But thanks to the PLCB’s curious reading of it, the amendment can be exploited to open a full-time bar with little regulatory oversight.”
As it turns out, for once, it’s the PLCB being lenient and allowing their own iffy interpretation of the rules to make things better. That doesn’t happen often. These pop-ups, like the one run by the Horticultural Society (which has been in the pop-up beer garden game for a while) and the very nice Spruce Street Harbor Park, became destinations for locals and tourists alike to enjoy the outdoors and a few drinks. Sixpack goes more into how this is all possible in his cover story, but it turns out some local bar owners (and more importantly, some local and less-than-local politicians) have a problem with this.
Four politicians — John Taylor, R-Philadelphia; Paul Costa, D-Allegheny; and state Sens. Chuck McIlhinney, R-Bucks, and Jim Ferlo, D-Allegheny — have taken issue with these dangerous pop-ups, saying they are an issue of “grave concern.” Yes, GRAVE CONCERN. And because your elected officials literally have no idea what is happening unless it’s on the cover of the newspaper, they are now “demanding an end to the practice,” just a few days after the story hit.
Their very angry letter to the PLCB said the practice is an “attempt to permanently establish a retail liquor establishment at an unlicensed location,” not taking into account the fact that the Horticultural Society has run three different pop-up beer gardens in the past, exactly zero of which have become permanent. The Waterfront Corporation also ran what they called Waterfront Winterfest for a brief time during the Winter near the current location of Spruce Street Harbor Park. That is also not permanent. It’s also worth pointing out that Taylor is chairman of the House Liquor Control Committee, and apparently just found out about all of this.
In response, the Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus has started a petition on Change.org where people can show their support for the desire to sit outside, in a nicely decorated area, and pay $6 for a beer. Because if this is the one thing we are allowed to have under the Iron Throne of the PLCB, we shouldn’t have that taken away.