Liquor board approves beer and wine sales request for new business -- Gazette.Net


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A Darnestown couple won approval from the county Board of License Commissioners on Thursday to sell carry-out beer and wine at a pizza and sub carryout they are opening on Seneca Road.

The 4-0 vote in favor of applicant Asia Shah on behalf of SMWS Group LLC came after objections by a nearby convenience store, whose owner said the competition could significantly affect its beer and wine takeout business.

“This is really, really, really going to hurt us,” said Vanda Petruccelli, who owns the Convenience Mart at the corner of Seneca and Darnestown [Route 28] with her husband, Nick Petruccelli.

Vanda Petruccelli said the couple has operated what used to be called the 6 Twelve beer and wine convenience store on the corner for 23 years and had lived in the community for more than 30 years.

“This is not needed,” Vanda Petruccelli said at a Feb. 7 license hearing in Rockville.

However, the Shahs, who also live in Darnestown, said the competition would benefit the community by providing more choice.

“America is about fair competition,” said Ashfaq Shah, Asia Shah’s husband and manager of the new business. “If I provide good service, they will come to me.”

The business will be at 14125 Seneca Road, site of Uncle Charlie’s Backyard BBQ that closed more than a year ago.

Ashfaq Shah said he expects to hire at least 15 people to deliver pizza and subs. He also said he would separate food sales from alcohol sales inside the building.

The business will be open every day from 11 a.m. to midnight, according to the license application.

State property records indicate that SMWS Group LLC bought the site for $500,000 in June 2012. “It shut down, and then we bought it,” Ashfaq Shah said.

“If I serve [customers] well and earn their dollar — that’s the spirit of this country, a fair field.”

The 4-0 vote in favor of the beer and wine carryout license did not include a vote by the chairman, who was not present for the hearing.

Members did not act on Shah’s second request, to allow home delivery of beer and wine, which requires considerable documentation by the seller to ensure beer and wine is not delivered to underage drinkers.

“[Home delivery] is extremely complicated,” Commissioner Fred Silverman said. “I don’t object to the off sale, but I wouldn’t grant home delivery at the outset without a year of successful experience [running the carryout].”

Vanda Petruccelli said most of the Convenient Mart’s business is beer and wine because the area does not have sewer systems to support sit-down restaurants or the sale of prepared foods..

She also said the previous opening of a county liquor store on Darnestown Road at Quince Orchard road had hurt their business when it opened.

The Petrucellis, however, said they had no plans to protest the granting of the license to the Shahs.

“Let the competitive aspect of the business take its own course,” Nick Petruccelli said.

vterhune@gazette.net