If you are reading this article, you are more than likely thinking about obtaining a liquor license for your new restaurant or a restaurant you already have open.
Naturally, food and drinks go together, so why not get a liquor license to increase your restaurant’s profits because of the profit margins and the low labor cost.
Having a liquor license comes with huge responsibilities and because of that, they are difficult to obtain.
Let’s look at the information you need to know prior to obtaining a liquor license and then how to go about obtaining one.
The Basic Qualifications.
Before you try to get your liquor license, let’s make sure you even meet the qualifications first. Each state will have different requirements.
But there are general qualifications, so let’s look at those first:
- You must be 21 years of age. If you cannot drink legally, why would you be able to sell it legally?
- Criminal record. If you have one, the odds of you obtaining a liquor license are slim to none.
- You must obtain your seller’s permit from your state Department of Revenue first.
- Take the Beverage Server Training Course—most of the time you must do so.
Liquor License Type.
Before you contact your state’s Alcohol Beverage Control agency, you might want to have an idea of what type of liquor license you will want.
What type of alcohol do you plan to serve? Just beer? Beer, wine, and liquor? Do you make your own beer and wine? Do you want to sell hard liquor?
It is important to understand there are several types of licenses. Do not obtain the wrong one. Some licenses are for beer and wine, while others will allow you to sell hard liquor.
Here is a list of common types of liquor licenses for restaurants:
- Beer and Wine—this is meant for beer and wine, no hard alcohol, or spirits.
- Restaurant Liquor License—this is the general type of license. It will include all liquors, but you cannot exceed more than 40% of your total revenue.
- Tavern Liquor License—this is for restaurants that sell food and alcohol. But your alcohol sales are higher than 50%
- Brewpub Liquor License—if you make your own wine and beer, you will need this license.
Spending a lot of money on anything can be overwhelming. It makes you think if it is worth the cost and the stress that is associated with it.
The cost of a liquor license will vary, and it is not necessarily cheap either. This is just an estimate, but the cost of a liquor license can range from anywhere between $300 and $3,000 or higher.
It will differ for a variety of things. The total cost of a liquor license for your restaurant will be decided by a variety of factors. It will depend on the requirements that are required for you to obtain your liquor license for your restaurant.
It will depend on your city, state, license type, etc. Some states will be higher, and some states will be lower. Some states have a set number of quotas per year for liquor licenses that will affect the cost and others do not.
Some states require you to have a different license for all four levels of government—local, state, county, and federal. The type of establishment you are applying the liquor license for will have a factor on the cost and the type of alcohol you plan to sale.
When you contact your state’s Alcohol Beverage Control agency, you will find out the cost of your liquor license.
How to Get a Liquor License.
Step 1: Contact your state’s Alcohol Beverage Control agency.
The Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) agency of your state will oversee your liquor license. It takes quite a bit of time to get approved for a liquor license.
The sooner you apply, the better. Depending on your state, requirements, you, etc., the process of obtaining your liquor license can take up to a year.
Also! Become very acquainted with the laws. The laws will vary between cities, counties, and states.
Here are some things your state’s Alcohol Beverage Control agency might tell you when you contact them:
- Qualifications to obtain your liquor license.
- Type of liquor you can and cannot sell.
- The hours you may sell liquor.
- Your limitations.
- Cost and type of liquor license.
- Permit availability and if any existing businesses are selling their liquor licenses.
Step 2: Pre-application preparations.
To prevent delays in receiving your liquor license, it is best to be prepared prior to applying. Being overly prepped will reduce any risks of delays.
If you do not have everything ready prior to applying, this can make your application put on hold while you take care of it. There may be more permits that are required. But that will depend on your restaurant and what is needed.
It is important to double check, triple check, and even quadruple check to ensure everything is ready.
Here are some permits that are important to have ready prior to applying for your liquor license:
- Business License
- Sales Tax Permit
- Alcohol Tax Permit
- Food Handler’s Permit Health Permit
- Music Permit
Step 3: File your application.
After pre-applications preparations, it is now time to apply for your liquor license. You will more than likely mail-in your application.
Alongside your application, you might be required to mail in additional documents.
Some things that may be required to be turned in with your application:
- Processing Fee
- Background Check Forms
- Lease Agreement Certificate from Secretary of State
- Copy of Food Service Operator or Food Establishment License
- Any other applicable licenses/forms that may be required
The approval process will differentiate from state to state. But the general idea of what it will look like is this:
- The application is received by the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control agency and filed.
- The Alcohol Beverage Control agency will determine the status and if there are any licenses available.
- The Alcohol Beverage Control agency will work aside the Ohio Bureau of Investigation to process background checks to determine if the applicant has a criminal record.
- A Division Compliance Officer will come do a physical check of your premises.
- A public hearing will be conducted if there were any complaints filed against your liquor license application.
- If no complaints, then the application should be accepted within 4-8 months and issued to you.
Renew Your License.
Depending on your state and local regulations, will decide the length of your liquor license. It can range from one to three years.
If you have followed the laws and regulations, renewing your license should be fairly easy. But you are not automatically guaranteed that you will have your license renewed.
Especially if you had received complaints or fines. The best recommendations are to operate reputably and follow the laws and regulations accordingly. This will ensure the liquor license will be able to be renewed.
Serving alcohol comes with a lot of responsibilities. It is important to obtain these responsibilities to ensure you will be able to renew your liquor license when it comes time to do so.
It is important to train and educate your staff to understand your state’s alcohol laws. This will allow your staff to understand what to do. Such as when to check an ID to ensure that a minor is not being served alcohol.
When to cut off guests that too intoxicated. And when it is legal and illegal to serve drinks to the guest. Not only will this help increase the chances of your license being renewed, it decreases the chance of being fined and/or get your license suspended.
Another tip to ensure your license is safe is to take alcohol inventory accurately. This will allow you to be notified when/if someone is skimming off the top and/or doing anything illegal to jeopardize your liquor license.
Overall, it is important to stay up-to-date on the different liquor laws that are applicable to you and your license. By doing so, it will ensure you do not receive any fines or have your license revoked.
It is a responsibility to obtain a liquor license and it must be taken seriously.