7-Eleven to begin serving beer and wine in Ontario

You'll soon be able to sip on more than just a Slurpee at Ontario 7-Eleven stores. Plus, two provinces are poised for a real estate bounce back in 2023, and theatre owners have great hopes for the Avatar sequel. Business Editor Fil Martino explains.

Ontarians will soon have another option when it comes to beer and wine availability.

7-Eleven says it has secured a liquor licence for its restaurant location in Leamington, Ont., which will become the first in the province to sell beer and wine to of-age customers. The company says it’s just the beginning of a wider provincial expansion.

A date for when the restaurant can start serving alcohol has yet to be confirmed.

The Dallas-based store chain says alcohol service will be limited from noon to 11 p.m., will be overseen by Smart Serve trained employees, and all products will be secured in locked cabinets and coolers only accessible by employees.

“7-Eleven is a restaurant that happens to have convenience store items, so we’re built around food and it just so happens that Leamington is our largest food sales location,” Marc Goodman, vice president and general manager at 7-Eleven Canada tells CityNews.

Goodman adds they hope to have as many as 50 locations licensed across the province, pointing out the sale of beer and wine is currently limited to the dine-in experience – not the convenience stores.

Goodman says there are plans to renovate the convenience stores and install dining areas so that customers can have the dine-in experience.

“We’re not a bar, we’re a restaurant,” explains Goodman, adding that you won’t be able to walk into a 7-Eleven and purchase alcohol to take home. “We would call this a natural extension of the food offering that we have today. So it’s food first, and then you can pair it with your beverage.”

7-Eleven Canada launched its very first licensed restaurant in Edmonton late last year and expanded the format to eight other locations in Alberta earlier this month.

Back in 2019, the Ford government announced it would expand beer and wine sales into corner stores, grocery stores, and box stores as a way to increase options for consumers. His government even passed a law to terminate a 10-year deal with The Beer Store — set to expire in 2025 — that prevents the expansion.

But that law was never put into force and after a cabinet shuffle saw a new finance minister, talk over ripping up the deal all but disappeared.

Since then, the Progressive Conservative government has taken a few other alcohol liberalization steps, including permanently allowing restaurants to sell alcohol with food as part of a delivery or takeout order, which was first introduced during the pandemic.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

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