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By in Latest News Comments Off on Pennsylvania Skill Responds to PLCB Email, Threatens Lawsuit

Pennsylvania Skill Responds to PLCB Email, Threatens Lawsuit

Almost as quickly as the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board issued an email to licensees concerning the legality of skill games, industry representatives responded back, demanding a retraction or face a lawsuit.

In a Pennsylvania Skill letter as a response to the PLCB email, Lou Miele wrote to operators, “This notice is DEAD Wrong with regard to Pace-O-Matic’s Pennsylvania Skill amusement devices and we will be taking appropriate legal actions against the PLCB to correct the record.”

The full letter reads …

Dear Operators,

As you may be aware, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) released a factually inaccurate email regarding skill games this morning. This notice is DEAD WRONG with regard to Pace-O-Matic’s Pennsylvania Skill amusement devices and we will be taking appropriate legal actions against the PLCB to correct the record. Click here to read a letter our attorney Matt Haverstick, Esq. sent to the PLCB’s legal counsel.

Furthermore, the PLCB confirmed that they WILL NOT be suspending licenses.

Pace-O-Matic’s Pennsylvania Skill amusement devices are legal and have been adjudicated by a Court of Common Pleas in Beaver County. Our legal status will not change unless there is another legal decision or the law is changed. As you are aware, our efforts have been ongoing as we work with state legislators to further regulate our industry and cement Pace-O-Matic’s Pennsylvania Skill’s legal status.

If the Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Lottery or the PLCB harass you or your customers, state that you must remove of your Pace-O-Matic Pennsylvania Skill amusement devices or attempt to confiscate them, please contact the Compliance Team immediately by clicking here or calling 570-244-3123, ext. 5.

Pace-O-Matic and Miele Manufacturing stand behind our product and we stand 100% with you in protecting the Pennsylvania Skill market. We have retained top attorneys and they are on stand-by, ready to defend our devices at a moment’s notice. We would encourage you to share this email with your customers.

For the record, the PLCB’s email is correct with regard to illegal gambling devices in the marketplace that are masquerading as skill games. These devices should be removed. These gambling machines are illegal and they may be putting you or your customer’s liquor license at risk by having them in your establishments.

Thank you,

Lou Miele

Part of the letter sent to the PLCB from Mr. Haverstick of Kleinbard reads, “If you do not immediately correct your libelous assertion as to Pennsylvania Skill games, we will sue PLCB to force the retraction.”

The email from the PLCB and these communications from Pennsylvania Skill comes only days after a hearing held in Harrisburg in front of the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee on the issue. To read a story covering testimony from both sides, click here for a PennLive story.

 

 

 

By in Latest News Comments Off on Skill Games: PLCB sends email to licensees

Skill Games: PLCB sends email to licensees

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has sent licensees an email on June 12. The email concerns skills games.

The following is a copy of the email …

Subject: LCB notice to licensees re: skill games

Attention Licensee:

In light of recent news coverage regarding illegal gambling devices – games of skill popping up at bars, restaurants, convenience stores and other venues where players pay cash to play a game for a chance of winning cash prizes – the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board wanted to bring this matter to your attention as a retail liquor licensee.

According to the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Lottery, skill games are illegal in the commonwealth. As such, possessing or operating one or more of these machines on your licensed premises may be grounds for the Pennsylvania State Police, Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement to issue a citation against your license. While the PLCB cannot provide you with legal guidance as to whether a particular gaming machine is illegal, citations put your license at risk, both through the citation process and upon application for renewal to the PLCB.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board | Bureau of Licensing
Email: ra-lblicensing@pa.gov
lcb.pa.gov

This email comes two days after a three-hour hearing by the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee on skill games. During the hearing, testimony was given by those who view them as legal and by those who believe skill games are illegal. To read a story from PennLive on the hearing, click here.

 

 

By in Latest News Comments Off on Harrisburg Check-in with Rep. Jeffrey Pyle

Harrisburg Check-in with Rep. Jeffrey Pyle

The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association sat down with Rep. Jeffrey Pyle recently to learn more about his perspective on the liquor industry, including Act 39 and the current political landscape ass the chair of the Pennsylvania House Liquor Control Committee. He is also a Republican who serves District 60 (including parts of Armstrong, Butler, and Indiana counties).

PLBTA: Thinking back to your first elected position, what motivated you to run for a public position?
JP: I thought I could improve the lives of the people who lived here, and will keep trying.

PLBTA: What made you particularly interested in chairing the House Liquor Control Committee?
JP: It was the best of what was offered to me, and I felt that I had experience that would translate well.

PLBTA: Our Members are mostly Mom-and-Pop operations. When they look around their hometowns, they can see that the local hardware store has closed, the independent doctor was bought out by a hospital chain, and the neighborhood grocery store is no more. They worry that their industry is next. Do you ever worry about small businesses going away?
JP: I worry about small businesses not being able to adapt to changing markets. If all those old businesses cited faded away because they did the same things over and over, that should be a lesson to us all.

PLBTA: Do you have a Committee agenda for this legislative session? Are there issues that you see as needing change in the system to make it more workable or efficient?
JP: Act 39 was a profound change in how PA buys its beer. With the act, being so new, there have been unintended consequences. Dealing with those unintended consequences is my agenda. We deal with those as they arise, and frequently, they come from business. We are always open to listening and to trying to fix problems.  What people need to realize is that Act 39 is not going away. It is not productive to just snipe at Act 39 all the time. Give us solutions that you need. That is where we come in.

PLBTA: Passage of Act 39 forced many changes in the retail liquor industry, with unintended consequences for many licensees. Taverns are facing more competition than ever before. Do you anticipate the Liquor Control Committee looking at the impacts of that legislation and making changes to help level the playing field for all licensees?
JP: Again, Act 39 is not going away, and we keep an open-door policy for anyone in the liquor business. If they have specific solutions other than “Act 39 sucks,” I am willing to listen.

PLBTA: One result of Act 39 has been delays in timely beer deliveries due to the expansion and universal availability of beer at large retailers and convenience stores, which were not in the beer business prior to the Act. At times, bar owners find themselves out of supplies, but current law doesn’t allow tavern owners to pick up beer when they are short through no fault of their own. Would you support legislation that would allow tavern owners to pick up limited amounts of brewed and malt beverages when they run out?
JP: Yes, I would, and in fact, that is a piece of legislation that we are currently developing. It is because of issues like this that it is good to have an open relationship with the Tavern Association because this idea came directly from them.

PLBTA: Bar owners often pay servers and bartenders through the wage-tip structure that guarantees minimum wage through a combination of a tavern hourly wage and tips. They often can make more … $15, $20, $25 per hour. This structure helps the small business and the employee. Governor Wolf wants to change minimum wage rules, possibly going as high as $15/hour. Some worry that patrons will feel tipping is not necessary due to a higher wage. If this were to happen, it may actually cause servers and bartenders to make less. How do you feel about the wage-tip structure?
JP: I am fine with how wages and tips are structured. Increasing the minimum wage will have a devastating effect on tavern owners. I will not be voting for a raise in the minimum wage.

PLBTA: Everyone has their favorite restaurant, bar, or tavern. These establishments can be great places to gather with friends and family. Without specifically naming your favorite, what makes it so special that you keep going back? What stands out about it?
JP: Food, friends, and atmosphere is what keeps me going back to my local bars and taverns.

The above Q&A was republished from the June 2019 edition of Pennsylvania Observer, the official magazine of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.

 

By in Latest News Comments Off on Rebate Program Registration Instructions

Rebate Program Registration Instructions

Instructions for finalizing participation in cash back / rebate program through the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association via Dining Alliance

Please note that there is no membership fee from Dining Alliance to take advantage of this cash-back / rebate program. While some group purchasing organizations (GPOs) require a membership fee, no one from Dining Alliance will ask you for a membership fee.

  1. Go to my.diningalliance.com (please not the period after “my”)
  2. On the first screen, click on “Signup”
  3. On the second screen, complete all information.
    1. In the box that reads “Dining Alliance Sales Rep *” click on “Teresa Thorne-Mill”
    2. In the box that reads “Referred By” click on “Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association”
    3. Complete all other areas before advancing to next screen
  4. On the third screen, click on add a distributor then select distributor
  5. On the fourth screen, please indicate if you have other distributors to add
  6. On the fifth screen, please indicate whether or not you are a member of another group purchasing organization or have any distributor manufacturer agreements. Read and sign the approval and submission form. Then click on done.
  7. On the sixth screen, you’ll see a thank you note from Dining Alliance. Once they have processed your information, they will send an activation link to your email that you can use to log in.

It will take about 6-9 months to start receiving rebate checks for establishments that tend to order at a higher level through a distributor. Some establishments may take longer. If rebate totals are more than $1,000 per quarter, you should receive a quarterly check. If rebate totals for any quarter are less than $1,000, Dining Alliance will roll over rebates to the next quarter until the figure is at least $1,000.

If you purchase from retail locations such as Restaurant Depot, Costco … etc., unfortunately, Dining Alliance will not be able to find you rebates. This program will help you attain rebates from distributor networks, not retail.

As a rule of thumb, you should anticipate about ½ percent return on your distributor orders. Some rebates may be higher depending what you order.

All of us at the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association are happy to bring you this service via Dining Alliance. We hope the few minutes you spend completing the electronic registration form via the instructions above helps you with your business by getting cash back from your distributor orders.

By in Latest News Comments Off on PLBTA Tip: The Cost of Overpouring

PLBTA Tip: The Cost of Overpouring

Inevitably, it happens. A bartender makes a drink a little stronger than it should be. Maybe it’s an accident. Maybe it’s intentional. Regardless, it should be avoided.

Overpouring can cause more than one problem, and, in general, you can lump overpouring issues into one of three areas.

  1. Back-end Business Math
  2. Loss Sales Opportunities
  3. Marketing Death Ray

 

Cost to business

High on the list to anyone operating a bar is the impact of overpouring on the business. A lack of portion control can squeeze profits tighter.

Possibly you have a bartender looking for bigger tips through stronger drinks. Or maybe they’re playing up a friend or favorite customer. Possibly, they don’t have the right tools to properly pour the correct amount.

Whatever the reason, tavern owners should demand the perfect pour from their bartenders. Consider the following:

Let’s pretend a bottle of liquor costs your business $27 to purchase, or 80 cents per ounce. Now, let’s pretend that you sell a mixed drink for $10 and there is a one-ounce overpour of liquor when making that drink. If that happens every time, you’ll have a revenue loss of 48 percent on that bottle.

Using this example, you should be able to make 33 mixed drinks from that liquor bottle. Overpouring just one ounce per drink brings that figure down to 16. In this case, overpouring decreases a potential $330 to just $160 before you pull out the next bottle to use.

 

Loss Sales Opportunities

Not only will you make less per bottle as a result of overpours, but it’s well known that stronger drinks decrease the number of drinks a patron orders. This is essentially a double-whammy! The tavern loses the opportunity to make an extra sale because the responsible drinker is worried about the amount of alcohol in a drink, and how it may impact them when they leave the bar.

 

Marketing Death Ray

Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most important marketing tools you have. Nothing will hurt you more than if a customer tells his friends that your drinks are too strong to enjoy. Similarly, underpouring can also be a marketing death ray.

 

What should a tavern owner do?

Responsible tavern owners want to provide the best environment for their patrons. That includes pouring the perfect drink that tastes just right. Consider the following to avoid overpours:

  • Have the right tools – jiggers, measured pouring spouts, and other precision tools are worth the money
  • Technology – automated systems may cost money, but can make you money too
  • Training – bartenders need skills. Help them with their skills.
  • Business math – keep an eye on inventory and compare it to sales
  • Staffing – hire trustworthy people

 

 

 

 

 

By in Latest News Comments Off on How Millennials Influence the Bar and Tavern Industry

How Millennials Influence the Bar and Tavern Industry

Possible profits for bar owners may now be coming from millennials, the largest US demographic1. Recent statistics show that millennials choose to go out to bars and taverns more frequently and spend more for alcohol on premise than older generations2. Finding ways to cater to their needs could lead to even healthier business. Speaking of healthy…

Health Conscious Millennials
Preferring to keep themselves fit, millennials gravitate towards healthier food and beverage options. Bartenders can take advantage of this by creating new, low calorie drinks in addition to their regular cocktails. Millennials are attracted to innovative ideas such as low-proof spirits and are more likely to frequent establishments that offer them2. Plus, because these distinct drinks are still specially made, bar owners can charge a price close to that of a standard cocktail.

New Type of Culture
Lifestyle is a key component of the millennial generation and includes everything from clothing to dining and even beverages. Millennials drink as a form of communicating their “identity” and are willing to pay extra for it2. They are drawn towards a variety of beverage types from beer to vodka to mixed drinks to cider, but find any new cocktail concoction to be the most appealing2. Most millennials see trendsetting as part of their “identity”, giving their business to bars that continue to infuse their menus with fresh choices.

Meeting up in groups at taverns has also become a popular activity among millennials. Open to the prospect of unique cocktails and meals, they are turning a “night out at the bar” into a warm, food-and-drink-consuming experience3. The more engaging bar and tavern owners make this experience, the more millennials may increase their stay and, most importantly, the amount of money they spend. Cheers!

 

This article is written by Robert Falvo, Retail Practice Leader at ProSight Specialty Insurance Brokerage, and sponsored by ProSight Brokerage. For more information on ProSight, visit prosightbrokerage.com/patavernassoc.

SOURCES:

  1. Source: CNN Library, American Generation Fast Facts, 9/4/18, cnn.com
  2. Source: Harry Hoyer, Millennials Think Before They Drink, 8/18/17, Nielsen.com
  3. Source: Taphunter, How Bars and Restaurants Can Appeal to Millennials in the Age of Netflix, 3/23/18, taphunter.com

By in Latest News Comments Off on Bid Deadline for PLCB Auction of Expired Restaurant Licenses Fast Approaching

Bid Deadline for PLCB Auction of Expired Restaurant Licenses Fast Approaching

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) reminds interested parties that bids for 25 expired restaurant licenses in the upcoming license auction are due by noon Monday, March 25.

This auction includes one license in each of the following 25 counties: Berks, Blair, Bucks, Clearfield, Dauphin, Delaware, Elk, Erie, Fayette, Huntingdon, Lackawanna, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Lycoming, Mercer, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Pike, Sullivan, Venango, Wayne, and Westmoreland.

The eighth auction will again use a sealed bid process, which has so far resulted in winning bids on 235 licenses offered in previous auctions. Bids will be opened Thursday, March 28, and auction winners will be determined soon thereafter.

The minimum bid for each license is $25,000, and each bid must be accompanied by a bid surety of $5,000 or 5 percent of the total bid amount – whichever is higher – to avoid frivolous and underfunded bids.

The highest responsive bidder for each license will win the right to submit an application for the license to the PLCB within six months of auction award. If bid payment is not received within two weeks of auction award, the second-highest bidder will have the opportunity to apply for the license. Bids will be held in escrow by the PLCB, pending approval of the license application.

Lists of winning bids from each of the seven previous auctions are available on the license auction page of the PLCB website. Auction revenue recognized thus far from all previous auctions totals $25.1 million, while another $3.9 million remains in escrow, pending license approvals.

The PLCB regulates the distribution of beverage alcohol in Pennsylvania, operates more than 600 wine and spirits stores statewide, and licenses 20,000 alcohol producers, retailers, and handlers. The PLCB also works to reduce and prevent dangerous and underage drinking through partnerships with schools, community groups, and licensees. Taxes and store profits – totaling $16.5 billion since the agency’s inception – are returned to Pennsylvania’s General Fund, which finances Pennsylvania’s schools, health and human services programs, law enforcement, and public safety initiatives, among other important public services. The PLCB also provides financial support for the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, other state agencies, and local municipalities across the state. For more information about the PLCB, visit lcb.pa.gov.

 

 

By in Latest News Comments Off on Essential Tips for running a successful bar

Essential Tips for running a successful bar

Keeping your bar running successfully requires great effort. Here are some helpful tips to make sure you are operating efficiently and keeping your customers coming back.

1. Keep Drinks Fully Stocked And Conserved
Having your bar properly supplied to always meet demand may seem like a costly endeavor, however there is a simple solution. By keeping track of what your customers are drinking, as well as the types of alcohol that are most popular, you will be able to adjust your drink stock orders accordingly. You end up spending less money on alcohol that is not requested as frequently.

Also, properly measuring the amount of alcohol you serve helps prevent wasteful overpouring. There are many tools to assist in your alcohol conservation, such as measured pourers and jiggers.

2. Be Creative
Fixing a drink at home is much cheaper than going out, so providing customers with a unique experience in addition to the beverages is key. Stand out from the competition by offering something new and different. Create signature cocktails and fun food and drink specials that show off your bartenders’ creativity. And, don’t forget to utilize a “bar’s best bet” where the name says it all: Happy hours. From there, you can parlay that enjoyment into hosting events such as trivia nights, speed dating, karaoke, open mic nights, sports parties and more. Once you have a creative plan, getting the word out should be your next step. The most efficient method for doing so is through social media, a great way to connect with your customers and be a part of the community. By setting up profiles on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, you end up reaching many in a matter of seconds.

3. Point of Sale System (POS)
To properly keep track of transactions and organize orders, an electronic POS system is a must-have. It helps ensure a smooth communication of customer tabs between the waitstaff, bartender, and kitchen. A POS system also affords bar managers a firm grasp on inventory management, cash flow and data.

4. Protect Yourself with Liquor Liability Coverage
When your business centers on serving alcohol, the potential for risk can be significant. Taking proper steps to keep your bar protected is extremely important. Liquor liability coverage helps to defend your bar against increased insurance costs and even losing your business. It is also critical to have your staff effectively educated through an established alcohol training resource such as the Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP) to educate and prepare them to deal with safety issues. For more information on getting the right bar insurance coverage, visit prosightbrokerage.com/patavernassoc.

In the competitive bar industry, increasing efficiencies, promoting customer events and having the right insurance coverage can lead to a successful business. Cheers!

This PLBTA Tip was written by Robert Falvo, Retail Practice Leader at ProSight Specialty Insurance Brokerage.  The PLBTA thanks ProSight for its support of Pennsylvania bars, taverns, and lounges.

 

 

By in Latest News Comments Off on PLCB tips to avoid the most common citations

PLCB tips to avoid the most common citations

In an effort to help bars, restaurants, and taverns better understand various liquor laws and how to avoid fines and penalties, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has put together a list of the most common citation issues.  The five Liquor Code violations below are those for which licensees most frequently receive citations from the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement.  Following each violation, we provide clarification on what the law requires and some tips on how to remain compliant.

Sales to Minors.
The Liquor Code expressly prohibits sales of alcohol to anyone under the age of 21, requires retail licensees to take steps to prevent sales to minors and provides penalties for licensees that sell to underage patrons.

To avoid sales to minors:

  • Develop and enforce strong policies regarding carding criteria (many retail licensees now employ 100 percent carding policies) and mandatory reporting of fraudulent IDs. Also develop a strong employee discipline policy for when carding and reporting policies are ignored or violated.
  • Provide continued training for employees, like RAMP server/seller training, and keep abreast of changes to ID formats and security features.
  • Utilize equipment like ID swipe devices and UV lights to check licenses.

Board-Approved Manager Failed to Complete RAMP Training within 180 Days.
The Liquor Code requires all managers to complete RAMP Owner/Manager training within 180 days of being appointed.  To avoid citation and ensure your new managers are trained timely, establish a RAMP compliance policy and implement a system to track deadlines any time a new manager is hired.  Also note that any change in the Board-approved manager must be reported to the PLCB within 15 days of the change.  And as a reminder, RAMP server/seller training must also be completed within six months of hiring a new alcohol service employee.

Illegal Gambling or Devices.
Relative to retail licensees, the only legal forms of gambling are Pennsylvania Lottery sales and small games of chance, including tavern gaming. Gambling like sports betting pools, quarter auctions and poker nights are illegal, as are any gambling devices that rely on a player’s skill to award prizes.

Certain games (pull tabs, daily drawings and raffles, for example), are legal, but only for clubs that obtain small games of chance licenses from county treasurers and retail licensees that apply for and obtain tavern gaming licenses from the PLCB.  Small games of chance and tavern games both have rules governing how often they can be conducted, how money derived from them can be used and record-keeping.  Tavern gaming licensees also have tax obligations specific to those games.

Permitted Smoking.
Since 2008, indoor smoking in public places, including bars and restaurants, is generally prohibited.  To avoid citation, post signage that clearly indicates smoking won’t be tolerated, and provide continued training and discipline for employees to ensure the no-smoking policy is enforced.

No Valid Health Permit.
All retail liquor licensees must maintain a current and valid health permit issued by the local permitting authority.  Implement a system to track expiration dates and filing deadlines to avoid permit lapse and potential citation.

Establishments with questions regarding licensing matters may contact the PLCB Bureau of Licensing at ra-lblicensing@pa.gov or 717-783-8250.

 

This column was written by Rodrigo Diaz, PLCB Chief Counsel; Tisha Albert, PLCB Director of Regulatory Affairs; and Elizabeth Brassell, PLCB Director of Policy & Communications. The Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association thanks each for contributing these tips to help our Members avoid penalties.

 

By in Latest News Comments Off on Dining Alliance, PLBTA partner to bring buying power to state taverns and bars

Dining Alliance, PLBTA partner to bring buying power to state taverns and bars

Dining Alliance, a group purchasing organization (GPO), has joined forces with the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association (PLBTA) to help small business establishments save costs on items ranging from French fries to napkins.

With about 165,000 line items with cash back available, Dining Alliance is currently the largest GPO in the United States, working with more than 350 food manufacturers.  Currently, about 50,000 restaurants, bars, and taverns are members of Dining Alliance.

Members of the PLBTA will be able to join Dining Alliance at no cost. Those interested in this cash-back program should visit http://pages.diningalliance.com/pataverns.

“Dining Alliance has captured cash back opportunities on products purchased by mom-and-pop establishments,” said Chuck Moran, executive director of the PLBTA. “Through our relationship with Dining Alliance, our Members will now be able to tap buying power and take advantage of cash-back programs.”

Moran says there’s more good news for his Members. In addition to cash-back savings, those belonging to the PLBTA will also have access to Dining Alliance’s “Beyond Prime” program, which offers discounts to owners and employees on items ranging from tv providers to work shoes.

“We’re happy to have the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association join us as a channel partner,” said Joe Schlesman, vice president of sales at Dining Alliance. “Our services will open the door for Pennsylvania’s bars and taverns to be more successful in their business operations.”