State officials auctioned off the first batch of expired restaurant liquor licenses, and the most expensive license was in Carlisle.
Giant Food Stores LLC came in with a bid of $556,000 for an expired license in Carlisle. The lowest bid was for a license in Somerset County, at $51,500.
The totals were revealed Thursday by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which announced winning bids for 37 of the 40 licenses available in its first auction. Seven licenses were in the midstate.
The auction marks the first time since Prohibition that the state has made available new licenses beyond the existing quota.
Cumberland County-based Giant Food Stores was the top bidder for 11 licenses statewide. Convenience-store chain Sheetz Inc. secured 15 of the licenses.
Four of the 11 licenses won by Giant Food Stores are in Central Pennsylvania, including the one in Carlisle. Two were in York County, in Penn Township and Glen Rock, and one in Lancaster.
TCCC-Lancaster Holding LP picked up a license in Columbia, Lancaster County. In Dauphin County, Turkey Hill LP was the top bidder for licenses in Pillow and Harrisburg.
The average winning bid across the 37 licenses was $212,000. Two licenses in Cameron County and one in Delaware County received no bids, according to the PLCB.
Statewide, about 1,200 licenses have expired since 2000 and are being made available through auctions in the coming years.
The auction format tends to favor larger supermarket and convenience store chains with deep pockets because top bidders have just 14 days from the date of selection to remit the full bid payment to the PLCB. The high cost of the licenses in many areas also makes it harder for smaller restaurants and retailers to compete.
Once bid payment is received by the PLCB for a license, each auction winner has six months to file an application with the PLCB to use the license.