Filed Under: Booze
| Food News
Meal Ticket has been sitting on this story for awhile due to a lack of cooperation on one end of the discussion. But now that Apothecary Bar + Lounge
has been named one of the Top 10 Speakeasies in the nation by USA Today,
we figure it's as good a time as any to share why the 13th Street drinkery should now technically be referred to as the abbreviated APO
Blame the Pennsylvania Board of Pharmacy.
In mid-August, Apothecary received a letter from Juan A. Ruiz, a prosecuting attorney for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, outlining a complaint leveled by the Harrisburg-based State Board of Pharmacy. The complainant called out Apothecary for violating Section 8(8) of Pennsylvania's Pharmacy Act, which states that it is unlawful for "any person, firm or corporation to use the title 'pharmacist,' 'assistant pharmacist,' 'druggist,' [or] 'apothecary,' except a person duly licensed as a pharmacist in Pennsylvania."
"Since Apothecary Bar & Lounge is not a pharmacy duly issued a permit by the Board, it is in violation of the act," the letter continued. "In order to comply with the aforementioned section of the Act, you must remove any signs and any part of your establishment's business name containing the word 'apothecary' or any similar title that may be used only by a pharmacy that has been issued a permit by the board."
Apothecary was handed a deadline of Oct. 1 to either change its name or suffer "formal disciplinary proceedings ... which could result in the imposition of a civil penalty of up to one thousand dollars per violation, as well as other civil remedy or criminal penalties."
Knowing that taking the issue to court would eat up massive amounts of both time and money, real estate design firm URBANSPACEDEVELOPMENT and restaurateur Bruno Pouget, who teamed to open Apothecary in May 2008, decided to comply and change the name to APO. They've had to update everything with the name "Apothecary" on it ï¿½ this means their lease, insurance policies, bank documents, health certifications, their liquor license and more. There is no name branding on
the exterior of the bar itself, so physical changes were minimal. It's still cost them quite a bit of money.
"I understand the Board of Pharmacy is supposed to be protecting the people against fraud ï¿½ people who are opening up a shop and prescribing and selling medicine who have no licensing," says attorney Sam Shaaban, who founded URBANSPACEDEVELOPMENT with his brother, Tim. "But we're Apothecary Bar and Lounge
. I don't know of anybody who has walked into our space, walked up to a bartender and said, 'What do you have for rheumatism?'"
Shaaban says that the Apothecary team "did what every other business does" during the process of selecting the name for the place ï¿½ checking to make sure they were not infringing or overlapping on anyone's trademark, etc. He says the state's Pharmacy Act did not come up during the research process. "If I was going to name [a bar] 'Haberdashery,' I would never think to myself, 'I wonder if the State Board of Haberdashery is going to restrict me from using this name,'" he explains.
"[We bore] the brunt of some silly legislation which is way too broad in its scope," adds Shaaban.
The Apothecary name itself was chosen as a nod to the heritage of the American cocktail, which is inextricably linked with the history of American pharmacology ï¿½ mixed drinks as we know them today were originally developed by actual pharmacists to (supposedly) alleviate ailments.
Both the Pennsylvania Board of Pharmacy and the State press office have ignored multiple requests for comment for this piece.