Restaurant owners challenge wine boutique

    They say Center City liquor board shop gives cafe an advantage

    Several restaurant owners in Center City say a wine boutique inside a new cafe violates Pennsylvania liquor laws.

    The restaurateurs are joining in a complaint against the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which established the store inside a Locust Street dining spot.

    When Jose Garces, one of Philadelphia’s most celebrated chefs, opened the Garces Trading Post six months ago, the LCB used it to launch a new retail concept.

    The agency opened a small, exclusive wine boutique in the same space.

    A wine buyer said the inventory was selected in part to complement the food Garces was serving.

    Owners of neighboring bars and restaurants have filed a complaint with the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, saying the LCB is making wine available to Trading Post customers without requiring its owner to buy a liquor license.

    Jon Myeron, owner of the wine bar Tria, says the LCB’s arrangement with Garces creates an unlevel playing field.

    “We’re not seeking any monetary damages, what we are seeking is one of two outcomes,” said Myeron. “One is to have Garces Trading Company procure a liquor license, or, two, have the store separated from the restaurant so it complies with the liquor code.”

    This is the first instance of the LCB putting a wine boutique inside a restaurant.

    A spokeswoman for the LCB said the agency has not seen the complaint.

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