7-Eleven submitted an application for liquor sales in 61 locations in Ontario, including two from Waterloo. Unlike supermarkets such as Walmart, 7-Eleven’s application also includes in-store alcohol sales in addition to its food offerings.
On Feb. 12, 2021, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) stated on their official Twitter account that liquor sales Licence Public notices have started at 61 7-Eleven sites in the province for on-site use only.
“[The 7-Eleven stores] are going to be modifying, redesigning their buildings to allow for seating similar to a restaurant,” Tony Elenis, President and CEO of Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association, said with regards to the AGCO’s statement. There is a possibility that it might rebrand itself from a convenience store to a fast-food restaurant.
From Elenis’s perspective, there are stores on highways and truck stops with beverage licensed-room in restaurants, and 7-Eleven becoming a restaurant remains uncertain. Elenis is concerned about the struggles that fast-food chains are facing during the pandemic, which brings the question of to what extent this idea will last and at what cost.
“Any competition will threaten the restaurant industry because the road to recovery will be long and will be painful, and one area that those restaurants that jumped with the trend of takeout and delivery [rely on] is to support the bottom line with beverage alcohol,” Elenis stated.
There is also the Progressive Conservative government of Ontario who debated locating beer and wine in supermarkets back in 2019. However, AGCO insists that allowing licences does not lead people into buying a six-pack.
Despite this, the proposal also raises questions about the various 7-Eleven locations which are also operating gas bars from outside restaurants and Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD).
AGCO’s statement is valid considering that supermarkets, liquor stores, bars and restaurants don’t allow customers to buy beer or wine without a verified license and are in legal age, that is 19 years or older. The possibility that 7-Eleven rebrands itself as a restaurant is a concern due to how fast-food chains and restaurants are not progressing well during the pandemic. Furthermore, there are alternatives that fast-food chains can survive during the pandemic as online services such as Uber Eats and DoorDash are processing well. There are also online services to order beer and wine to be sent to homes such as The Beer Store and Drizly which adults can order.
7-Eleven will add beer and wine services to the menu at 256 King Street North and 425 University Avenue East in Waterloo.