Los Angeles Business Journal

7-Eleven Liquor Caught in Catch-22

By Alfred Lee Friday, March 7, 2014

The 7-Eleven on the west side of sleepy La Cañada Flintridge might have a soda fountain and two-for-a-dollar doughnut deals, but don’t call it a convenience store.

To get around the community’s zoning restrictions, the store’s original franchisee had to stock and market the 7-Eleven as a liquor store. Customers are greeted upon entrance with rows of alcohol in all varieties – $4 red wine blends and pricy Pinot Noirs from historic Santa Barbara vineyards, Coors Light 12-packs and craft IPA beers.

It’s is the only 7-Eleven Liquor in the country where the stock is mostly alcohol – a liquor store with a Slurpee machine. La Cañada Flintridge bans freestanding convenience stores, so when a 7-Eleven franchisee applied to open an outlet at the site of a former liquor store in 2011, city officials forced him to maintain that use. The city even sent over an inspector to make sure it wasn’t selling too many snacks, issuing a citation at one point for not stocking enough alcohol, which was upheld after a nine-hour hearing.

Then, late last year, city officials in the largely bedroom community passed a new ordinance banning store sales of alcohol past midnight – affecting only the 7-Eleven, which is open all night. 7-Eleven, which has fought the requirement to be a liquor store in court, now has filed a legal challenge to the new late-night alcohol ban.

The result is a curious fight between a store fighting to sell less alcohol but also seeking to sell it for longer hours, and a city that wants to clamp down on alcohol sales but is forcing a store to sell liquor.

Read the rest of the story in the March 10 edition of the Business Journal.