'Stop and Go' liquor sale crackdown to begin in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Gov. Tom Wolf was in Philadelphia on Thursday to sign a bill that would enforce stricter penalties on so-called "stop and go" stores that break the law.

Lawmakers say these alcohol establishments have become a nuisance in the city.

Some of the stores advertise cheesesteaks, hoagies and Chinese food, but actually sell beer and shots of alcohol to go.

We went into one such store that wasn't serving food at all. When we asked why, we were told: "The cook's not here yet."

An undercover Action News investigation found most of the shops operate using a restaurant license to sell little besides booze.

"We're not cooking today," one shop owner said. When asked why not, he said "We don't feel like it."

Councilwoman Cindy Bass took us on a tour and says she has more stop and go's in her district than public schools, sometimes right next to each other.

"Clearly this is less than 500 feet from an elementary school," she said of one such shop.

Many of these stop and go bars also sell candy for kids, right alongside intoxicated customers.

"You'll have children in line to buy candy at the same time you have adults in line to buy shots of alcohol," said state Sen. Sharif Street.

They are supposed to meet minimum requirements including food, seating for 30, and access to bathrooms.

"They have no place to go to the bathroom so they are doing it all over the street," said resident Jane Barnes.

"We ain't use the bathroom since like 1995," said resident Jeremiah Thomas.

Most stop and go's we visited had their chairs locked up or behind glass enclosures, leaving drinking patrons few other options than wandering neighborhood streets while they drink.

"We've had violation after violation after violation in many of these establishments," said Rep. Jordan Harris. He was the powerhouse behind the legislation behind that was signed by Wolf.

The law will give the Liquor Control Board more authority to shut down bad actors.

"Nobody should have to see this in their neighborhood," Harris said.

And Bass has introduced a resolution to tighten the city's requirements to get a liquor license.

"Neighbors should not feel like they are being held hostage to bad businesses," she said.

Mayor Jim Kenney has also committed resources from L&I to help with enforcement.

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