Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration

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Full-Service Grocery Stores

Few retailers qualify for a class B license to sell beer and wine for off-premises consumption in the District. In order to apply for a class B license, a full-service grocery store would need to meet the following criteria.

1.) A retailer must be licensed as a grocery store and sell at least six of the following categories:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Fresh and uncooked meats, poultry and seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Canned foods
  • Frozen foods
  • Dry groceries and baked goods, and
  • Non-alcoholic beverages.

2.) Dedicate a certain amount of square footage—or selling area—to the sale of the food products listed above, including a minimum of either:

  • 50 percent of the store’s total square footage, or
  • 6,000 square feet.

3.) Dedicate at least 5 percent of the selling area to each of the food categories. In order for the square footage to be considered part of the selling area, it must be open to the public and may not include storage, preparation areas or rest rooms.

Full-service grocery stores that meet these requirements can apply for a class B license. Please note there is currently a moratorium that prohibits the issuance of licenses to full-service grocery stores in Ward 4 with the exception of 4C07.

On-Premises Consumption at Grocery Stores - Class D License

A full-service grocery store with a class B license can also apply for a class D license to allow for on-premises consumption. The class D license would permit the store to sell and serve wine and beer that can be consumed on the licensed premises.

A full-service grocery store would need to meet the following criteria in order to be able to apply for a class D license:

  • Primary business and purpose is the sale of a full range of fresh, canned, and frozen food items;
  • Sale of alcoholic beverages is incidental to the primary purpose;
  • Sale of alcoholic beverages constitutes no more than 15 percent of the total volume of gross receipts on an annual basis;
  • Establishment is located in a C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4, or C-5 zone or, if located within the Southeast Federal Center, in the SEFC/C-R zone;
  • Establishment is a full-service grocery store that is newly constructed with a certificate of occupancy issued after January 1, 2000, or is an existing store which has undergone renovations in excess of $500,000 after January 1, 2000;
  • Opinion of the ANC, if any, has been given great weight; and
  • Applicant does not hold a manufacturer's or wholesaler's license.

Complete and return an ABC License Application to apply for either a class B or D license. Applications can be returned in person to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration:

  • 2000 14th Street, NW, Suite 400 South, 4th Floor, Washington DC 20009