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The exterior of an Aldi store. The discount supermarket chain plans to sell beer and wine at its two stores in Chattanooga.

Aldi has applied to sell beer and wine at its two Chattanooga stores, which would put the discount grocery chain among the ranks of groceries that sell wine here since it became legal on July 1 for Tennessee groceries to do so.

"That's what we're hoping," said Gail VanFossen of the Aldi on Highway 153 in Hixson.

Both VanFossen and Elizabeth Boettcher, of the Aldi at 5706 Lee Highway, are scheduled to appear this morning before the Chattanooga Beer Board to seek a permit to sell beer. Until now, the two Aldi stores haven't carried alcohol of any kind.

"We only do beer," said Keith Reisman, the assistant city attorney who works with the beer board. "The beer is what's on the agenda [today]."

The wine permit is a separate process that needs final approval from the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). A TABC spokeswoman said in late June that the commission had just received applications from Aldi, and those requests still needed to be processed.

Reisman didn't anticipate any problems with Aldi's request for a beer permit, which he said would become effective immediately if it's approved.

VanFossen said Aldi is hoping to start beer and wine sales in August.

Aldi already sells beer at its store in Fort Olgethorpe and in other grocery outlets. Aldi even has a house brand of table wine called Winking Owl that costs about $3 a bottle.

Some Aldi stores carry dessert wines from Germany, where the chain traces its roots to brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht, reclusive, frugal billionaires who founded a business empire that also includes the discount grocer Trader Joe's. Aldi gets its name from the first two letters of "Albrecht Discount."

Currently, there are more than 1,300 U.S. Aldi stores and some 4,000 stores worldwide. An Aldi is due to open in Ooltewah at White Oak Crossing, a $10 million shopping center going up on Lee Highway.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@times freepress.com or www.face book.com/MeetsForBusiness or twitter.com/meetforbusiness or 423-757-6651.

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