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November 03, 2016

Philly bidders win four PLCB 'zombie' licenses in state's first auction

Liquor Control Board Licenses
Pa. liquor licenses SHARON MARGOLIS/for PhillyVoice

A Pennsylvania liquor license.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) announced Thursday that it has issued 37 Notices of Selection for the state's initial restaurant license auction, including four to bidders in Philadelphia.

Authorized by Act 39, the auction system is one of several measures designed to reform Pennsylvania's liquor laws. Highlights of the legislation include bottled wine in select grocery stores, extended Sunday and holiday hours at state liquor stores, six-packs at select gas stations and direct-to-consumer shipping privileges for licensed wineries.

A total of 40 restaurant licenses across 21 counties — including four in Philadelphia — were placed up for auction in September as part of an effort to address a statewide shortage and implement a more cost-containing setup for businesses.

The PLCB validated 134 sealed bids in the first round of auctions, which will take place regularly in the coming months and years in order to assign about 1,200 licenses that have expired since 2000, hence the "zombie" moniker.

Winning bids varied widely in price based on geography. A $51,500 bid for a license in Conemaugh Township, Somerset County, was dwarfed by a $556,000 for a license in Carlisle, Cumberland County. The average winning bid is about $212,000.

Among the 40 licenses up for auction, three received no bids. There were between one and nine bids on each of the remaining 37 licenses. Philadelphia's winning bidders are listed as follows:

• Jack You Xing Chen ($135,111)

• Avram Hornik ($129,500)

• Danlu LLC ($175,100)

• PP Liquor LLC ($150,000)

State revenue totals from the auction will not be available until license approvals are granted and bids come out of escrow.

Top bidders are given 14 days to remit their full bid payment to the PLCB or else the license will go to the second highest bidder.

Results from the initial auction will be reviewed to inform methods and timeframes for future auctions.