7-Eleven applying for licences to sell beer, wine for in-store consumption

It's raising concern among Ontario businesses

7-Eleven is applying for licenses to sell beer and wine for in-store consumption at multiple Ontario stores, which is raising concern among Ontario businesses.

While struggling due to COVID-19 restrictions, Ontario bar and restaurant owners now have to worry about potentially facing competition from multinational convenience store chain 7-Eleven if its applications are successful.

The company is currently applying to sell beer and wine for in-store consumption only, as corner store alcohol sales are still prohibited in the province. In total, 7-Eleven is seeking liquor licenses for 61 Ontario locations, including 14 stores in Toronto.

“To complement our fresh food and hot food programs, we are preparing for in-store service of a small selection of Ontario-made beer and wine products, offered during limited hours, and in designated consumption areas of our stores,” a statement from the corner store giant reads.

If successful, all staff handling wine and beer would be trained under Smart Serve.

In the economic hit of the pandemic, with many small businesses attempting to recover from the financial blow, president & CEO of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association Tony Elenis says that it is “not the best climate to start bringing in competition,” according to CBC.

Aside from timing, Elenis says there’s nothing wrong with the plan, “As long as they play by the rules,” he continues. “They have to follow the health, labour and building rules associated with opening a restaurant.”

Government officials are stressing that the liquor license applications are not for retail sales, but for restaurant-style alcohol sales only. Additionally, the stores would not be eligible for beer and wine takeout in the same way other restaurants have been since the COVID-19 pandemic.