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12/07/2021

7-Eleven Canada opens the taps on serving beverage alcohol

Pilot in Edmonton now offers beer, wine and coolers for on-premises consumption or takeout.
Michelle Warren
Editor, Convenience Store News Canada
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As part of Alberta’s red tape reduction efforts, a 7-Eleven in Edmonton is among the first convenience stores in the province to serve and sell alcohol for on-premises consumption and takeout.

Customers visiting the 7-Eleven at 14110 127 St., which is also home to a Petro-Canada gas station, can order beer, wine coolers to be consumed on-premises in the store's new designated dining area.  

In a statement to Convenience Store News Canada, 7-Eleven Canada confirmed the soft launch and said this remodelled location will follow the same rules that apply to other restaurants in Alberta: "We test a variety of programs in our stores that promote an excellent experience for our customers. We have received positive feedback from customers about the expanded food and beverage assortments and look forward to continuing to meet customers expectations. We’re excited by the opportunity to pilot it in our Edmonton location."

The development comes after the Alberta Government announced this summer that the Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis (AGLC) was ahead of schedule with plans to relax rules around consumption. In a release, the government said AGLC removed “unnecessary restrictions on liquor sales, promoted responsible and safe drinking in designated parks and helped many businesses survive the recent pandemic.”

In turn, Albertans can drink alcohol in designated parks and liquor distributors can host tastings, while restaurants, bars and other liquor licensees can sell liquor with takeout and delivery orders.

As part of the changes, convenience stores can sell alcohol if they meet certain requirements: Specifically, locations with defined dining area are treated like restaurants. In addition, staff must have Pro-Serve Liquor Training and alcohol must be stored in locked coolers

In a statement, Karin Campbell, manager, communications, AGLC, told CTV News: "The licence permits this 7-Eleven location to operate and in-store restaurant that offers a selection of alcohol beverage products to adult customers, for consumption in a designated new dining area of the store."

While the 7-Eleven location is 7-Eleven Canada’s first to sell alcohol, it won’t be the last.

"Food is a significant part of 7-Eleven’s business today. We are a member of Restaurants Canada with a seat on the board there," the company said, adding: "Canadians have told us they want the convenience of beer and wine products with their meals and snacks."

The store food menu includes fresh and hot Canadian made pizzas, as well as the hot dog grill, taquitos, nachos and fresh locally made and daily delivered sub sandwiches and wraps. In addition, the crispy classic chicken menu consists of hand breaded and deep fried chicken, the classic chicken sandwich and all white meat kebobs, complemented by crispy wedge fries breaded and fried by hand - all cooked from scratch by dedicated cooks in the store kitchen.

7-Eleven also emphasize their role as a responsible retailer: "All team members at this site have completed Pro Serve training, along with their foodservice training."

7-Eleven continues to work on the beverage alcohol issue and created a stir in February 2021 when it  confirmed it was preparing many of its Ontario shops to serve beer and wine after applying for 61 licences from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

At the time, The Canadian Press Reported: “7-Eleven says the alcoholic drinks would complement its push into fresh and hot food, and would build on the chain's long history of controlling access to age-restricted products.”

Several of those applications has since been withdrawn, however selling beverage alcohol is major focus for the convenience industry in communities across the country. Until now, only Quebec and Newfoundland allowed for the sale in convenience stores.

Select stores in Ontario can sell through the LCBO Convenience Outlet program, but it's a far cry from the Doug Ford's election promise to reduce red tape, offer Ontarians choice and allow for the sale of beer and wine in corner stores.

In October, the Convenience Industry Council of Canada called on the Ontario government to allow convenience stores to sell Ontario-produced beverage alcohol products, which will support provincial producers while enhancing choice and convenience for Ontarians. 

The Choose Convenience. Choose Ontario campaign is the latest advocacy on this issue.  Earlier this year, the convenience industry formed the Convenience and Choice coalition to pressure Ontario's Conservative government to reconfirm its commitment to allow convenience stores across the province to sell wine and beer. The CICC, Ontario Convenience Stores AssociationOntario Korean Businessmen's Association and Free My Booze launched at targeted initiative calling on Queen's Park to fulfill the campaign promise made in 2018, which has since stalled due, in part, to disagreements with the The Beer Store and the brewers that are parties to the master framework agreement, a 10-year contract that is to expire in 2025.  

In the meantime, 7-Eleven said it will continues "to innovate and provide convenience to Canadians." 

Stay tuned for The Beverage Alcohol Report in the January/February 2022 issue of Convenience Store News Canada magazine. It's coming - are you ready?

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