After years of waiting, fans of specialty grocery chain Trader Joe's were thrilled when the company announced plans to open two stores in the metro. But one of the stores may not get a chance to open because of an issue with Kansas City's liquor license regulations.

According to the provisions of their lease with the Ward Parkway Shopping Center, Trader Joe's is required to obtain a liquor license to sell packaged beer and wine. But a current city ordinance restricts the sale of packaged liquor near residential areas.

The grocery chain, based in Monrovia, Calif., has a loyal following with organic products, specialty items and inexpensive wines like Charles Shaw, or "Two-Buck Chuck" as it's called for its price.

"Kansas City has a lot of fans for Trader Joe's," said Matthew Voelker of Kansas City, who like many across the metro used to drive to St. Louis to shop at Trader Joe's. "I used to drive across the state for almost a year every other week."

Doug Stone, Trader Joe's local attorney, said the city needs to amend its liquor law. Currently, only so many stores can sell packaged liquor near residential areas.

"Liquor license law is not always a one size fits all," said Stone of the Polsinelli Shughart Law Firm. "If they're unable to get the beer and wine license then they'll terminate their lease."

Kansas City Councilmember John Sharp said the city is working on an exemption to the ordinance. Sharp said that it would be terrible to lose a destination shopping site like Trader Joe's because of the way the city's liquor licenses are awarded.

"This will bring in revenue in terms of tax dollars for the city and the state, but also it will help revitalize the Ward Parkway Shopping Center," said Sharp.

The Kansas City Council will vote on the exemption Dec. 16.

Trader Joe's is scheduled to open the Ward Parkway store and another location in Leawood sometime late next spring or early summer.