Yes, Virginia. Ricker's Can Be A Restaurant.
(Photo Cred: Ricker's Convenience Stores)
In the latest pursuit of protectionism, the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers is applying pressure on the General Assembly to keep Ricker's Convenience Stores from being able to sell cold beer in their establishments. With the creation of the website, "ThatsNotARestaurant.com," the IABR is asking Hoosiers to tell their legislators to "enforce the law."
Ricker's followed the law to get a license to have restaurants in two of their locations. However, the IABR is claiming they used "loopholes" to add chairs and sell food. They then claim, "Because liquor stores are subject to regulations and special training to protect against underage drinking and other unsafe practices that other retailers are not, these workarounds sacrifice the safety of Hoosiers for convenience."
They finish with the ominous line - Don't sacrifice safety for convenience. (Emphasis theirs.)
The IABR favors protectionism; they don't want Sunday sales, and they don't want the competition selling cold beer (current Indiana law only allows cold beer sales in liquor stores, breweries and restaurants. Supermarkets and convenience stores must sell it warm.) It's hard to blame them for wanting to protect their members by preventing competition and insinuating that if Ricker's sells cold beer every Hoosier will become a violent drunk who will kill our children.
But does the IABR and their CEO, Patrick Tamm, get to decide what is a restaurant? It reminded me of the famous letter to the New York Sun in 1897, where little Virginia asked - hopefully - is there a Santa Claus? Amazingly (wink, wink,) I received a letter asking me a similar question: Is Ricker's A Restaurant?
I am over 21 years old.
Some of my of-age friends say that Ricker's can't possibly be a gas station, a convenience store AND a restaurant.
Papa says, "If Tony Katz says it, It's So!"
Please tell me the truth; is Ricker's a restaurant?
MAIN STREET, INDIANA.
Joyfully, I responded:
Virginia, your of-age friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age, and potentially been bought and paid for by the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers. They do not want to believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be the Indiana state legislator's or Patrick Tamm's, are little. In this great universe of ours people follow the law, like those which stated if you have 25 seats and sell over $200,000 worth of food then you can get a restaurant license.
Yes, Virginia, Ricker's can be a restaurant. It can be a restaurant as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and as long as you wish to have burrito at any given time during the day. Alas! how dreary would be the world if the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers decided who is and who is not capable of owning a restaurant. It would be as dreary as if there were no Maxine's Chicken and Waffles or Knightstown Gas Grill. There would be no faith then, no poetry, no romance, no to-go nachos to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight (but not on Sundays.) The eternal light with which adults choose where and when they get a cold beer world would be extinguished.
Not believe Ricker's can be a restaurant? You might as well not believe in all those Subway sandwich locations in gas stations around the nation! Patrick Tamm might get stores across Indiana to say Ricker's can't be a restaurant, but what would that prove? You may not take your wife to Ricker's for your anniversary, but that is no sign that Ricker's can't be a restaurant. Have you seen today's Indiana Republican Party fighting for the rights of business owners to pursue their passions and grow their business? Of course not, but that's not proof that they are not there. (OK, it's some proof.)
Tamm and Co. may yell and scream and wail about loopholes, but not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of the Indiana General Assembly, can say Ricker's didn't follow the law. Ah, Virginia, even Gov. Eric Holcomb agrees the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission did their job correctly.
Ricker's can't be a restaurant! Thank God! They can, and can today. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, Ricker's can still be a restaurant.