Liquor license hearing for Columbia Wegmans space this week

Debate over liquor license for Wegmans upstairs space to start anew

The debate over whether a beer, wine and liquor store should be allowed in the same building as the Wegmans grocery store in Columbia will begin again this week.

Thomas Quick hopes to open a business called The Loft Wine & Spirits in a 9,900-square foot space next to the supermarket's second-story customer seating area. Tuesday night, he will make his case before the Howard County Alcoholic Beverage Hearing Board.

An earlier effort by different entrepreneurs, Columbia Wine Partners LLC, to obtain a liquor license for the space was shut down by the hearing board in 2012. Board members said at the time that the request violated a state law that prohibits the licenses from being "issued to or for use in conjunction with or on the premise of" a grocery or chain store.

Quick and his lawyer, Tom Meachum, argue their proposal is different because customers would have to enter The Loft from the outdoors, rather than through the Wegmans store. And unlike the Columbia Wine Partners, whose principals included the husband of Wegmans president Colleen Wegman, Quick says he doesn't have any ties to the grocery chain.

"Tom Quick's business would not be predicated upon the success of Wegmans," Meachum said in July.

Earlier this year, Alcoholic Beverage Hearing Board members denied Quick's application on the basis that they had already decided there should be no liquor license awarded for the space on the second floor of Wegmans, but Meachum and Quick appealed. Howard County's Liquor Board, which is made up of the members of the Howard County Council, sent the case back for a hearing.

Arguments are scheduled for Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m.

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