2010-09-09 / Local & State

Price Hikes Warned With Higher Pa. Liquor Fees

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Restaurant owners are warning that liquor and wine price increases are likely following a decision by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to charge higher handling fees to wholesalers beginning next year.

Beginning Jan. 4, handling fees charged to wine and spirits wholesalers will go up 35 cents, to $1.15, depending on the size of the bottle, while fees for fifths and half-gallons will rise 75 cents and those for threeliter bottles of wine will increase by $1.15.

The increase and its timing are coming under fire from restaurant owners.

“I think there is a lot of questions, a lot of concern,’’ said Patrick Conway, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association. “When you look at the economy, it hasn’t come around as quickly as one would hope. Both for restaurants and consumers this is a significant increase.’’

Conway said the board’s decision was made abruptly and without consulting suppliers or the restaurant industry.

Restaurateur Don Carter, Jr., who owns Duke’s Bar & Grill, Dockside Willies and Rock Bass Grill in Wormleysburg, said the action leaves him no choice.

“Either restaurants raise their price to where it needs to be or you go out of business,’’ he said.

Joe Conti, the liquor board’s chief executive, said officials decided last spring to restructure the operating fees for the first time in 17 years to reflect the costs associated with storage and handling liquor and wine. The board hopes to generate $50 million to $75 million in additional revenue for the agency.

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