Appeal from order of Court of Quarter Sessions of Philadelphia County, Nov. T., 1962, No. 1768, in re appeal of 35th Ward Democratic Club, Inc.
James Iannucci, Special Assistant Attorney General, with him I. Harry Checchio, Special Assistant Attorney General, Thomas J. Shannon, Assistant Attorney General, and William C. Sennett, Attorney General, for Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, appellant.
Leo H. Loffel, for appellee.
Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, and Hannum, JJ. Opinion by Wright, P. J.
[ 213 Pa. Super. Page 14]
On October 16, 1967, after hearing, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board entered an order suspending for a period of thirty days the club liquor license issued to the 35th Ward Democratic Club, Inc., for premises at 6053-55 Castor Avenue in the City of Philadelphia. This order was based upon the following finding of fact: "The licensed organization, by its servants, agents or employes sold liquor and/or malt or brewed beverages on the licensed premises to nonmembers, on September 25, October 2, 3, 16, November 13, and 18, 1966". The licensee appealed to the Court of Quarter Sessions of Philadelphia County which tribunal reduced the suspension from thirty days to ten days. The Board has appealed to this court.
The history of the licensed premises includes four prior suspensions for sales to nonmembers. The suspension presently under consideration is based on a factual situation about which there is no serious dispute. An enforcement officer of the Board was a visitor in the licensed premises on the dates stated in the Board's finding. Twice he was admitted as a guest of a club member. On those first two visits, actually comprising three dates as hereinafter explained, the doorman requested that he sign a guest book. The officer thereafter went to the bar unaccompanied and purchased a number of alcoholic drinks. On each of the next three dates the officer found the club door open, entered the premises, went to the bar, and purchased alcoholic drinks without question or challenge from anyone.
Appellant's brief states that this appeal presents the following question: "Is it a violation of the Liquor Code for a club licensee to permit a nonmember to enter the licensed premises, sign a guest book and purchase alcoholic beverages?" In appellee's brief the
[ 213 Pa. Super. Page 15]
question involved is stated as follows: "Is it a violation of the Liquor Code for a club to sell alcoholic beverages to a bona fide guest who has properly been admitted to the club premises as a guest of a member?"
In whichever manner the question is stated, it is our view that an affirmative answer is required by the plain language of the Liquor Code. Act of April 12, 1951, P. L. 90, 47 P.S. 1-101 et seq. Section 406 of the Code (47 P.S. 4-406) contains the following provision: "No club licensee nor its officers, servants, agents or employes, other than one holding a catering license, shall sell any liquor or malt or brewed beverages to any person except a member of the club". In a number of decisions of this court it has been flatly ruled that a sale by a club licensee to a nonmember is a violation of the Code. See Penelope Club Liquor License Case, 136 Pa. Superior Ct. 505, 7 A.2d 558; Commonwealth v. Hamilton, 148 Pa. Superior Ct. 169, 24 A.2d 656; Lehigh Valley Brewery Workers Home Association Liquor License Case, 154 Pa. Superior Ct. 141, 35 A.2d 561; I.B.P.O.E. Liquor License Case, 163 Pa. Superior Ct. 395, 62 A.2d 68; Southern Outing Club of Pittsburgh Liquor License Case, 166 Pa. Superior Ct. 555, 72 A.2d 600; Italian Citizens National Association of America Liquor License Case, 178 Pa. Superior Ct. 213, 115 A.2d 881; Veterans of Foreign Wars Liquor License Case, 208 Pa. Superior Ct. 78, 220 A.2d 407.
In the case at bar appellee persuaded the court below that the officer was a bona fide guest on the first three dates, and that purchases by a bona fide guest do not constitute violations. As previously indicated, the Code has not been so interpreted. The prohibition against sales "to any person except a member of the club" ...