More booze could soon be coming to a mall near you.

New Jersey legislators are considering a proposal that would expand the eligibility of alcohol sales within large shopping malls.

Under a measure discussed by an Assembly panel on Monday, a "special permit" — separate from a typical liquor license — could be issued to food and drink establishments within the mall, including at the food court.

Representing Westfield Garden State Plaza, John Boguchwal said the proposed change would be timely as malls work to "reinvigorate themselves" in an e-commerce society.

"A key component of that is the hospitality industry," Boguchwal told lawmakers. "The trend in the hospitality industry in centers like ours is towards your local restaurateur or regional restaurateur. That's actually what's attracting people more and more."

This and other measures related to liquor licenses are coming off the back burner as the Murphy Administration aims to overhaul the current system.

Speaking for the New Jersey Licensed Beverage Association, Jeff Warsh said an addition to the number of liquor allowances would likely hurt the anchor mall locations that are selling alcohol already.

"It'd be harder to get the revenue that they used to get," Warsh said.

Lawmakers argued that malls themselves would be the ones making the decisions about which businesses fill vacancies and receive the special permits, and they wouldn't make moves that could harm other tenants.

Under the bill, the available number of permits would vary based on the size of the shopping mall. A price would be attached to renewing the permit each year.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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