Beer, wine sales a possibility for Naperville gas stations?

  • An example of a wine wall and beer cave at one of The PRIDE convenience stores at suburban gas stations that has a liquor license. The PRIDE and another gas station operator are asking to be the first gas stations in Naperville allowed to sell beer and wine.

    An example of a wine wall and beer cave at one of The PRIDE convenience stores at suburban gas stations that has a liquor license. The PRIDE and another gas station operator are asking to be the first gas stations in Naperville allowed to sell beer and wine. Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

  • An example of a wine display that could be set up in a BP gas station on Brookdale Road in Naperville if the city allows gas stations to begin selling beer and wine.

    An example of a wine display that could be set up in a BP gas station on Brookdale Road in Naperville if the city allows gas stations to begin selling beer and wine. Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/6/2017 11:42 AM

The average gas station has changed so much since the last time Naperville considered allowing them to sell alcohol that liquor commission members now are warming to the idea.

Licensing gas stations hadn't come up "this millennium," until two gas stations brought it forward Thursday, liquor commission member James Ostrenga said.

 

"When it was considered, gas stations were truly gas stations (with) bubble gum, cigarettes, windshield wiper fluid and a tank of gas," Ostrenga said after hearing many now contain large grocery lines, coffee shops, even full sit-down restaurants selling fresh-made burgers, fries and shakes. "I think it's worth considering now."

Under a liquor license that could be similar to the ones granted to grocery stores, Naperville could allow gas station convenience shops to begin selling packaged beer and wine for customers to take with them and drink later.

One existing station, Brookdale Petroleum at 1983 Brookdale Road, and one proposed station, The PRIDE at Raymond Drive and Ogden Avenue, are the first in line seeking the privilege.

If it's granted, Naperville would be following suburbs across the region, including 10 of the 12 The PRIDE locations in places such as Aurora, Carol Stream, Elgin, Geneva, Hinsdale, Kildeer and St. Charles.

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"In the last few years a lot of municipalities have rewritten their codes to allow for beer and wine to be sold within a convenience store gas station and that type of environment," said Guy Morgano, vice president of The PRIDE stores. "We don't make a lot of money on gas, so we're always looking for other revenue. The beer and wine has actually become one of the key components."

Liquor commission members discussed the percentage of sales they'd be comfortable with coming from beer and wine and the percentage of floor space the displays could take up. They'll review a staff proposal with specifics on these and other regulations before making a recommendation.

The idea would be to craft a policy that would allow gas station liquor sales to begin, but prevent every last fill-up spot in Naperville from seeking a license.

"We might want to set a cap so it doesn't proliferate," commission member Joe Vozar said. "A lot of reasonably close communities have approved something along these lines."

The city also plans to ask neighboring towns that allow gas stations to sell beer and wine whether they've seen any problems with underage purchases, people drinking in gas station parking lots or increased DUIs.

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