Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.


Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Administration

DC Agency Top Menu

-A +A
Bookmark and Share

Full-Service Grocery Stores

ABRA issues licenses to full-service grocery stores, which are defined as:

  • Self-service retail establishments;
  • Independently owned or part of a corporate chain; and
  • Licensed as a grocery store. 

The following criteria would need to be met in order to apply for a class B license as a full-service grocery store: 

1.) A retailer must be licensed as a grocery store and sell at least six of the following categories:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Fresh and uncooked meats, poultry and seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Canned foods
  • Frozen foods
  • Dry groceries and baked goods, and
  • Non-alcoholic beverages.

2.) Dedicate a certain amount of square footage—or selling area—to the sale of the food products listed above, including a minimum of either:

  • 50 percent of the store’s total square footage, or
  • 6,000 square feet.

3.) Dedicate at least 5 percent of the selling area to each of the food categories. In order for the square footage to be considered part of the selling area, it must be open to the public and may not include storage, preparation areas or rest rooms.

Full-service grocery stores that meet these requirements can apply for a class B license by filing an ABC license application

On-Premises Consumption at Grocery Stores - Class D License

A full-service grocery store with a class B license can also apply for a class D license to allow for on-premises consumption. The class D license would permit the store to sell and serve wine and beer that can be consumed on the licensed premises.

A full-service grocery store would need to meet the following criteria in order to be able to apply for a class D license:

  • Primary business and purpose is the sale of a full range of fresh, canned, and frozen food items;
  • Sale of alcoholic beverages is incidental to the primary purpose;
  • Sale of alcoholic beverages constitutes no more than 15 percent of the total volume of gross receipts on an annual basis;
  • Establishment is located in a C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4, or C-5 zone or, if located within the Southeast Federal Center, in the SEFC/C-R zone;
  • Establishment is a full-service grocery store that is newly constructed with a certificate of occupancy issued after January 1, 2000, or is an existing store which has undergone renovations in excess of $500,000 after January 1, 2000;
  • Opinion of the ANC, if any, has been given great weight; and
  • Applicant does not hold a manufacturer's or wholesaler's license.


Full-service grocery stores can sell growlers of beer, wine, cider and mead. A growler is defined as a reusable container that is capable of holding up to 64 fluid ounces.  The bottle can be filled and sealed on premises for consumption off premises.

License Renewals

Full service grocery stores class B licenses are due to renew by September 30, 2023.  A complete schedule of renewal deadlines are available on ABRA's website

Full-Service Grocery Store Forms

If you are making any changes to an already licensed business, find the proper form here:

Additional Resources