Giant Food Stores snaps up more 'zombie' liquor licenses

Giant Food Stores continues its spree of buying Pennsylvania liquor licenses.

In a second round of auctions of so-called zombie licenses - expired licenses that the state has revived to address a shortage - the Carlisle retailer was the winning bidder for liquor licenses in Chester and Montgomery Counties, as well as six others statewide.

Sheetz, the convenience-store chain, agreed to buy 17 licenses - none in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Giant agreed to pay $454,301 for a license in Phoenixville Borough and $463,802 for a license in Abington Township. Liquor licenses in Pennsylvania ordinarily trade on the open market, subject to state approval. In a similar auction last fall, Giant paid $491,300 and $526,000 for licenses in Skippack and Narberth, Montgomery County, among 11 licenses it bought. 

As recently as two years ago, such licenses would sell for $250,000 to $275.000. Demand by supermarkets - which want permission to sell alcoholic beverages - is driving up prices. The burgeoning restaurant community in King of Prussia also is creating huge demand and higher prices in Montgomery County.

Two licenses in Philadelphia fetched $151,100 and $151,111. Their buyers are listed as limited liability companies, and the state does not require a specific license address until the license transfer is requested.

A check of corporate records by The Inquirer traces one Philadelphia license to the partnership that owns Yamitsuki restaurant at 1028 Arch St. The other Philadelphia license's registered office is in Huntingdon Valley, Montgomery County.

All told, 42 "zombie" licenses throughout the commonwealth received winning bids in this round. Winning bids ranged from $25,001 for a license in Lower Yoder Township, Cambria County, to the $463,802 for the Abington license. Proceeds go to the state's general fund.

More details are here.