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Credit: Ajon Brodie

Wish you could grocery and alcohol shop in the same spot?

After a decision by the Spruce Hill Zoning Committee on Jan. 19 to allow Fresh Grocer at 40th and Walnut Streets to sell beer, the grocery store is looking to move forward with these plans. According to Fresh Grocer representative Tim Brown, the store is still in its planning stages when it comes to how to implement the new addition.

Spruce Hill Zoning Committee chair Barry Grossbach said the decision to approve Fresh Grocer's request was a "no brainer." "It seemed to us that they had done their homework, they had a responsible plan and the University also would have a stake in making sure this operated appropriately," Grossbach said.

Grossbach also noted that it was important for Fresh Grocer to pitch their alcohol plans to the community before making further developments. 

Fresh Grocer's second floor mezzanine area will be turned into the alcohol section of the store and will be the only part where alcohol can be purchased. Employees who work in this area will also go through a training program about safe alcohol distribution.

Fresh Grocer and Penn Facilities and Real Estate Services are currently working together to ensure alcohol sales operate as efficiently and safely as possible. Since Fresh Grocer's location is owned by Penn, FRES will have the ultimate say in approving Fresh Grocer's plans. 

Fresh Grocer was granted the right to sell wine and beer when owners signed the lease with Penn, within certain boundaries.

Students disagree on the potential impact these changes could have on them and the community as a whole. College and Wharton sophomore Theodore Caputi thinks that the increased availability and convenience of alcohol near campus will encourage students to drink more. "It's such a tough call," Caputi said. "Consumption is a lot more sensitive to availability."

Something Caputi is especially concerned with is the effects these changes may have on the community. "Penn has a commitment to its surrounding area by putting this in place," Caputi said. He feels that although Penn may not think about it, there are young people in the area that are outside the Penn community who may be more prone to buying alcohol if they see it during their typical grocery trip.

"There are plenty of methods to cut down on the risk on this," Caputi said. "My guess is that if Penn is involved, then they will work out a way to do this thoughtfully."

Annie Liu, Students for Sensible Drug Policy president, does not feel that adding another alcohol option in the area will have much of an effect on student and community consumption. "To some degree I think there will be some increase in availability, but it's not going to be a huge change or issue," Liu said. 

Liu noted that there are a number of options around campus in addition to liquor stores and beer distributors where students can purchase alcohol at almost any hour of the night. "Allegro's is super close to campus and sells beer," Liu said, commenting that bars such as Harvest, Tap House and Copabanana are hot spots for student consumption. 

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