Public Comment

Wine License Causes conflicted Loyalties in South Berkeley

By Jane Stillwater
Thursday December 15, 2011 - 10:40:00 AM

I have become very bothered, concerned and, well, torn in two directions lately because of the fact that my friendly neighborhood Walgreens store right across the street from me on Oregon and Adeline here in South Berkeley has apparently declared war on Bill Bahou, the kind-hearted owner of Roxie Deli, located at the corner of Shattuck and Ashby. 

Walgreens, apparently, is desperately trying to gain possession of the beer & wine license that is currently owned by Roxie Deli -- and this battle over the license is starting to get ugly. 

To me, this struggle is a great shame and complete disaster because I love the Roxie Deli and realize that its beer & wine license makes all the difference in the world to its owner who is running a good local business and is struggling to make ends meet. In addition, Bahou is a genuine good guy who has been known to do many kind deeds in the community in addition to serving really good food. Plus Bahou is also a long-time supporter of the fabulous Berkeley Daily Planet! 

But on the other hand, I also like the ease and convenience of having a Walgreens store situated right across the street from me, and would love to have Walgreens have a beer & wine license too -- but not at the expense of snatching it out of the hands of the nice guy who owns the Roxie.  

But first, before you also become all bothered, concerned and torn as well, here's a bit of background information on this latest range war in South Berkeley: Apparently our local Walgreens can't have a beer & wine license all their own because of some City of Berkeley ordinance that doesn't allow anyone with a prior license infraction to obtain a new one. And Walgreens does have an old prior -- but it is for an infraction committed by a Walgreens store in Southern California, not here. And now the Berkeley Walgreens can't get a license under Berkeley laws because of what had happened way down in SoCal. And so our local Walgreens has turned its attention toward the poor sweet innocent Roxie Deli. 

However, this issue does appear to be solvable -- with major legal warfare being successfully avoided. 

But in order to resolve this conflict amicably, we who are the neighbors of both stores and who are the ones who would most benefit from an amiable solution that would make both Walgreens and Roxie happy -- we ourselves need to ask the City of Berkeley to either change its laws in this matter so that what happens in SoCal stays in SoCal, or to amend said laws in order to let this new deal go through. 

So in order to avoid conflict between two of my most favorite stores in South Berkeley (besides, of course, the Berkeley Bowl), please call, e-mail or write to your Berkeley city council representative today and BEG him or her to change or rescind this law -- as it applies to Walgreen and Roxie. 

Then war will be averted and South Berkeley will at peace once again. Whew!