Six Lewiston stores compete for one agency liquor license

This week the Buzz is all food and drink and bottom’s up: Pumpkin spice love. Pizza wars. Liquor jockeying.

Where to start?

Fine, liquor jockeying for the win!

On Thursday, six Lewiston stores will square off in front of the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, each making a case at a Zoom’d public hearing that it should receive the lone agency liquor store license up for grabs.

Director Gregg Mineo said this particular round is “quite competitive” since it’s “the first round since the most recent legislative adjustment in the number of licenses available in each municipality.”

Under that adjustment, Lewiston is allowed nine agency liquor store licenses based on its population; eight are already spoken for.

Auburn is allowed eight and all eight are taken.

As part of the process, all six stores had to submit applications to the state detailing store layout, programs around carding customers and the odd interesting fact:

• At the Nouria at 449 Sabattus St, for instance, the average weekly customer count is 7,273 people, and in the past fiscal year, it sold $4.1 million in gas and $776,325 in tobacco.

• At the Nouria at 1103 Lisbon St., it’s an average 6,000 weekly customers, $5.4 million in gas and $852,416 in tobacco.

• Cumberland Farms at 753 Sabattus St., with an average 11,000 weekly customers, projects weekly liquor sales would be $4,000 with a new license. The chain also notes that Cumberland Farms has 43 stores in Maine, 20 of them agency liquor stores, and liquor sales for fiscal year 2020 are “showing a strong increase over previous year.”

• Cumberland Farms at 691 Main St. averages 10,700 customers and projects weekly liquor sales of $3,000.

• Circle K at 681 Main St. has an average 3,998 customers a week and is otherwise stat demure.

As of Tuesday, the application for Ward’s Neighborhood Market hadn’t yet been posted to the state website.

The bureau is awarding 36 agency liquor store licenses across 21 municipalities in all following criteria laid out in statute, according to Mineo, with the hearing just one part of the process.

Who you gonna call?

Apparently, you’re calling Domino’s.

According to the website TOP Data, while Little Caesars has led the nation in pizza sales since the start of the pandemic, coming in as the top chain in 24 states, Maine’s No. 1 is Domino’s Pizza.

That’s followed in Maine by Pizza Hut, Little Caesars and Papa John’s, respectively.

The company suspects that Little Caesars’ $5 pies are tipping the scales in most states, but clearly here, we’re not swayed.

Domino’s was tops in seven states, Papa John’s nine and Pizza Hut just two.

Now to clear your palate with a little pumpkin spice

Or a lot, as it were.

For one week in August, Maine was the No. 1 state in the country for tweeting out its love of pumpkin spice lattes.

I know. Someone measured it AND we’re No. 1, doubly mind-blowing.

According to Nutrition & Diet News, examining more than 120,000 geotagged tweets with hashtags like #psl and #pumpkinspiceseason, Maine had the most traffic of any state, followed by Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee.

They chose a week in August to measure after both Dunkin’ and Starbucks released their first PSLs of the season. (Apparently, it was Starbucks’ earliest release ever, according to NDN.)

So much to sip and digest here.

Quick hits about business comings, goings and happenings. Have a Buzzable tip? Contact staff writer Kathryn Skelton at 689-2844 or [email protected]

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