Florida court clears way for automated beer, wine dispensing machines

Florida
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Automated, self-serve wine and beer dispensing machines? A Florida regulatory agency said no to the idea, but an appeals court ruled Friday that the devices a company hopes to install at high-end residential properties aren’t illegal.

La Galere, a South Florida based company that has a chain of self-service food stores in business and residential properties around Florida, asked the Department of Business and Professional Regulation if it could add wine and beer to its operation.

The state said it was illegal, but the company appealed and the First District Court of Appeal ruled in its favor, saying nothing in state law prevents the machines.

“We are predominately focused on the development and operation of gourmet, self-checkout food marts,” said La Galere owner Rashid Siahpoosh. “This initiative came about as a direct result of some requests from existing customers to have access to beer and wine.”

So the company went out and developed a dispensing system that uses biometrics and other technology to ensure customers buying beer and wine are over the age of 21.

“It not only addresses, but exceeds the current method of age verification,” Siahpoosh said. “We’re making sure we address all the regulatory concerns of the state.”

While La Galere has stores in commercial buildings and in college student apartment buildings, Siahpoosh said it won’t install beer and wine dispensing machines in those locations.

Only residents in the buildings where the stores operate would have access to the machines, and would have to verify their age in advance. No one could walk in off the street and buy beer and wine.

“With our age verification, we go above and beyond what the state requires. We have additional methods of making sure that we address things like fake IDs. We basically take underage drinking to 0.0%,” he said. “You could be 90 years old and come into our store and if you’re not in our system, you’re not going to be able to buy anything.”

Siahpoosh said the company now plans to move forward after the appeals court ruling.

“I believe we will go ahead with those plans as our customers requested, but we’ll continue to work with the state, ” he said.

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