Kansas City, Mo., supermarkets could serve cocktails next to groceries if ordinance passes

Posted at 5:18 PM, Aug 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-31 18:24:49-04

Grocery stores in Kansas City, Missouri, don't just sell food you can prepare at home -- they also sell meals you eat right inside the supermarket. Enter Hy-Vee Market Grille.

“It's a full service restaurant, so [it’s] different than what our traditional kitchens were,” explained Scott Gilbert, a Hy-Vee store director. “We moved into the new concept - a full service restaurant, a full menu, different items for people. You can also have a beer or a glass of wine with your meal.”

That is unless you live in Kansas City, Missouri. There, grocery stores are barred from selling liquor by the drink the way a bar or restaurant would. But a decision by the Kansas City Public Safety Committee could change that.

“What we are finding here, not just with this Hy-Vee today, but we have found over the past several years various concepts related to distilleries, to smaller restaurants,” said Scott Wagner, the mayor pro tem for the first district, which consists of the Kansas City portions of Clay County. “A number of things that are disrupting the ways restaurants and bars have been done over time.”

On Wednesday the committee moved forward a measure that would allow grocery stores with 15,000 square feet or more of retail space to also pour customers wines, beers and cocktails by the glass. The initial proposal was 10,000 square feet, but an attendee voiced his concerns and so the committee suggested increasing the size by 5,000 square feet.

“Liquor is a problem that has addressed our community - we have more liquor stores than we have anything else,” said Joseph Jackson, the Kansas City, Missouri resident to spoke up at the meeting. “You can go block-by-block and in some cases you can have three liquor stores on one corner.”

His concern was that larger liquor stores would sell alcohol by the glass and that it could create safety issues in communities. Instead, the new ordinance would only apply to grocery stores. In fact, general merchandise stores like Target and Walmart would not qualify either.

“If you don't adjust to those sorts of changing consumer needs and business needs, what you find is those businesses will go somewhere else and those tax dollars that are generated there will not come back to the city,” said Wagner.

The Kansas City Public Safety Committee doesn't want to see that happen, so members unanimously moved the measure forward. If the city council passes the ordinance, in two weeks shoppers could sip Syrah while shopping for their grocery staples.

The committee said the council does want to hear what the public and business owners think about the potential ordinance change. The Kansas City City Council will take public comment at the Thurs., Sept. 8 meeting at 3 p.m.



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