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Whole Foods proposes Sip & Shop program for Swampscott

Whole Foods Market in Swampscott is planning to add 7,500 square feet of space for the franchise's long standing Sip & Shop program, which allows adult customers to purchase and enjoy a glass of beer or wine during their shopping trip. (Spenser R. Hasak)

SWAMPSCOTT — Whole Foods customers are about to have a whole new shopping experience.

The supermarket chain’s long standing Sip & Shop program, which the Texas-based company said has been a success in other states for a decade, might be coming to Swampscott, according to documents obtained by Item from the town’s Office of Community and Economic Development. Two special permit requests made by company representative Michael Scott, of Boston law firm Nutter, were approved by the Swampscott Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday night. 

Whole Foods is one step closer to allowing their Vinnin Square customers, over the age of 21, to purchase and enjoy a glass of beer or wine during their shopping trip.

“Whole Foods is following in line of Eataly Boston,” said Community and Economic Development Director Marzie Galazka. “They want to create a space in the store that would allow them to serve beer and wine so customers can shop and sip.” 

The first special permit will allow the sale and consumption of alcohol. The second will add 7,500 square feet of floor space for the wine and beer pouring station. The additions will become part of the already 36,000-square-foot store, according to the proposal.

Glassware disposal stations and carriage drink holders will also be added to accommodate the program.

Scott and David Libardoni, both representing Whole Foods, did not return multiple phone calls seeking comment.

“Whole Foods would like to bring this program to Massachusetts and has identified Swampscott as one of the stores most suitable for the concept,” said Scott in the proposal’s cover letter.

If approved, any Whole Foods employee who serves alcohol must be TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures) certified, in order to prevent intoxication, drunk driving, and underage drinking. Employees will also be required to take an online ServSafe Alcohol class.

Whole Foods ensured the ZBA members customers will only be allowed one drink per ID shown. If they are found giving it to someone else, it will be confiscated and they will be asked to leave the store. If found drinking their glass outside of the store’s front doors, customers will be asked to come inside or surrender their drink to an employee.

A camera will be located at the pouring station with footage available upon request, the documents said. During their proposal, Whole Foods said they have received no citations or violations related to the program in any of the stores currently operating it.

Molly O’Connell, senior planner for the Community and Economic Development office, said Whole Foods is not asking to be a package store. They will not be selling bottles of any of the beer or wine, only single glasses per customer, she said.

The proposal said the grocer is looking to offer various opportunities for local craft beer and vintage wine vendors to feature their products in the store. Aside from the Sip & Shop program, tap takeovers as well as pop-up and sampling events might also be on the horizon.

The next step in bringing the program to life is for Whole Foods to go before the Swampscott Select Board and apply for a liquor license, said O’Connell. That is expected to happen sometime in September, she said.

“When looking at liquor licenses and the uses of them, I’m inclined to support petitions that enhance extensive community,” said Select Board Chair and ZBA liaison Peter Spellios.

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