How to Get a Liquor License for Your Restaurant

Learn how to get a liquor license from restaurateur Paul Bolles-Beaven in this Howcast video.

Transcript

It's so important to know what you don't know, and when it comes to getting a liquor license my advice to you would be to find somebody who knows what they're doing. Because it can be a very complicated and long and drawn out process.

We have a person in our company who does liquor licenses for us, and he does an amazing job. So I asked him, I said, what is it that you need to do, what do you need to have. He sent me a four page single spaced document that says two pages of what you have to have prepared and then two pages of what you have to do. So, I'm going to tell you that I would suggest that you get an attorney, someone who's practiced at getting liquor licenses, knows the process, knows what you need to have prepared, and knows what to do.

In New York City an average liquor license costs about four thousand dollars plus about another four thousand dollars to have someone help guide you through the process. You're still going to have a lot of work to do, but they're going to make sure that you follow all the correct steps.

Now, if you want to do it yourself, every state has a website with their state liquor authority that describes exactly what you need to do to prepare for and apply for a liquor license. It's never too early to start. It can take a lot longer than you think. And, you need to have a lot of things prepared. So, as soon as you think you might be opening a restaurant that's going to serve alcoholic beverages, start learning what you need to have prepared and start the process of applying for your liquor license.

Liquor licenses come in a couple of different types. There are wine and beer licenses that allow you to serve wine and beer, and full liquor licenses that also allow you to serve liquor and alcohol. It's also true that there are two types of licenses that either allow you to serve liquor on premises to your guests to consume it in your restaurant, or off premises, like a liquor store, where it's sold for consumption outside of the licensed premises.

A liquor license is a big responsibility. It means that you're going to be serving alcohol to people. There are a lot of laws and regulations that cover the serving of alcohol. You need to be very aware of them. It's also a big responsibility, because people who are intoxicated can do terrible things, and you have a big liability as a restaurant owner who serves alcohol. Training your staff in responsibly serving alcohol is a critical part of taking care of your business and taking care of your patrons.

The website in New York is sla.ny.gov. I'm sure whatever state you're in there's a similar website. When you go there you're going to find out some very interesting things. For example, you can't have a liquor license within 200 feet of a school or place of worship. You also can't have a liquor license within 500 feet of another licensed establishment. You'll also find out that, in addition to applying with the state liquor authority, in New York you have to go before a community board and have it approved.

There are a lot of things you need to do, and you need to spend the time, and do the research, and do the work that it takes to apply for your license.

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