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Beer Battle

One online delivery service is looking to deliver alcohol to homes in Lincoln, and another may be offering the service before the end of the year.

Coming soon to a front door near you: alcohol delivery.

GoPuff, an online convenience store that set up shop in Lincoln earlier this year, is in the process of applying for a liquor license so it can add beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks to its offerings.

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission last week approved a special permit for an off-sale liquor license at GoPuff's local distribution center at 301 Oak Creek Drive.

A GoPuff spokeswoman said the company offers alcohol delivery in about 25 of the 60 or so markets where it operates. It does not offer the service in Omaha, and the spokeswoman did not say whether it plans to do so there.

Though several Planning Commissioners expressed concern about delivery of alcohol to homes, the service has been legal in Nebraska for quite some time.

Hobie Rupe, executive director of the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, said that any business with an off-sale or shipper's license can deliver alcohol in the state, although there are a couple of rules they have to follow.

The alcohol must be paid for in advance, meaning no cash sales at the door, he said, and both the deliverer and receiver of the alcohol must be 21 or older.

Despite the relative ease of getting approval to deliver alcohol in the state, it is not yet very common.

Rupe said he's aware of it being done in Omaha, and Pizza Hut earlier this year started delivering alcohol in some smaller Nebraska cities, including Grand Island, Columbus and Beatrice.

However, he said the state is likely to see a big expansion soon.

"We've had lots of inquiries about it," Rupe said.

Instacart, the nation's largest grocery-delivery service, announced Tuesday that it has expanded online delivery of alcohol and now offers it in 14 states and Washington, D.C. Though Nebraska is not among those states, the company said users of its service in the state, "can expect to have access to alcohol delivery through the Instacart marketplace in the coming months."

"Part of grocery shopping for many people goes beyond getting fresh produce, meats and pantry staples, and includes picking up the perfect bottle of wine for a dinner party or their favorite beer to sip while watching the big game," Nilam Ganenthiran, chief business officer at Instacart, said in a news release. "By working alongside our retail partners to add alcohol to the marketplace, we're offering customers more choice."

In Lincoln, Instacart delivers for Super Saver and Russ's Market, CVS, Costco, Fresh Thyme Farmer's Market and Natural Grocers.

Marty Jarvis, marketing director for B&R Stores, which owns Super Saver and Russ's Market, said he was not aware of any plans for the stores to start delivering alcohol.

Hy-Vee spokeswoman Tina Pothoff said she was not aware of any plans for alcohol delivery by the grocer, which offers delivery through its own online service, Aisles Online, as well as through Instacart and its competitor Shipt.

Shipt offers alcohol delivery from Target stores in several states. A spokesperson for the company said it is"always expanding and looking to add retailers, expand geographically, and provide members with their local favorites – including beer, wine, and spirits," but as of yet has no plans for alcohol delivery in Lincoln.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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