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The New York Times reports that Whole Foods has been forced by New York State liquor officials to close the wine store in its flagship store on Columbus Circle in Manhattan.

The state maintained that the shop violated the law saying that wine and liquor stores have to have a separate entrance at street level and cannot sell food; The Whole Foods is on the lower level of the Time Warner Center without a street level entrance, and, quite obviously, sold food.

However, while it is pleading no contest to the charges, Whole Foods is saying that the store as it existed is exactly as it was presented to state officials when the company applied for a liquor license. Whole Foods is paying a $5,000 fine, has surrendered its liquor license and is selling off its stock.

The NYT suggests that it was local liquor stores that may have pressured the state authorities to make a move on Whole Foods. In addition, when Whole Foods opens up a separate liquor store near a new supermarket it is opening in downtown Manhattan, local retailers also are expected to protest.
KC's View:
It is a stupid law.

New York is the capital of the world, and ought to be enlightened enough to allow supermarkets to sell wine.

Some of the local merchants say that they believe that Whole Foods is more likely to allow minors to buy liquor, an argument that is specious at best. This isn’t about under-age drinking, it is about protecting their own keisters.

New York Gov. George Pataki proposed this week that New York allow both in-state and out-of-state direct wine shipments, a move that he said would both allow New Yorkers to have access to more wines from more vineyards as well as allowing New York’s growing vineyard industry to build its business.

That’s a step in the right direction. Now, it’s time to take it further and get rid of these ancient restrictions.