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How to Get a Liquor License in New York

“How do I get a liquor license?” has to be the most frequently asked question I receive on a weekly basis, followed closely by “what do I need to get a liquor license?” Both questions will always depend on several factors. The most basic factors to consider are: 1) what type of business you plan to open; 2) where you plan to open your business; 3) what type of license you wish to (or can) obtain; and 4) the owner (s) of the business. This first layer of decisions will determine the next steps that should be taken in order to get a liquor license in New York. 

1)     What Type of Business Do You Plan to Open?

Although liquor, beer and wine licenses are used in a variety of businesses, not all business utilize the licenses in the same way. Identifying the type of business you would like to open (e.g. liquor store, bar, restaurant, hotel, cafe, catering hall, nightclub, etc.) will narrow the types licenses you will choose from and dictate that next step in the process to take. 

2)     Where You Plan to Open Your Business? 

To borrow a phrase from real estate, there are three things that matter most here: location, location, location. The location of your business will shed light how much your license fee will be and on what steps may need to be taken prior to applying for the license. Your location may also help determine what business concepts may work well with that particular community. There are some communities that embrace new businesses to the neighborhood, while others may put a halt on businesses getting off the ground.

3)     What Type of License You Wish (Or Can) Obtain?

We can now determine what type of license you wish to or can obtain now that you know what type of business you plan on running and where you plan on running it. For the variety of businesses, there are a variety of licenses. There are two basic categories of retail liquor licenses in New York. The first is an “on-premise” license, which allows for the consumption of alcohol on site. Here are the most common:

OP — Full liquor license for all types of alcoholic beverages; also permits the sale of beer for off-premises consumption
HL — Hotel license for all types of alcoholic beverages
CL — Club (Members Only) license for all types of alcoholic beverages
RW — Restaurant wine license for wine and beer
EB — Eating place beer license for beer

On-premise liquor licenses cannot be obtained within 200 feet of an exclusive church, school, or synagogue. This topic is explored more in our article Obtaining a Liquor License - 200 Foot Rule and 500 Foot Rule.

The second type of retail license is an “off-premise” license, which allows for the off-premise consumption of alcohol:

L — Liquor store license permitting sale of liquor and wine
A/DS — Grocery store or drug store license permitting sale of beer
AX/DX — Grocery store or drug store license permitting sale of beer and wine coolers

4)     The Owner(s) of the Business

 The owners must meet minimum requirements for a retail liquor license which are: 

·      U.S. citizenship or permanent resident alien status
·      Age 21 or older
·      No felony convictions
·      Not a police officer with arresting powers

However, considerations should be made if any owner has any type of criminal history or a unique situation. 

These four initial considerations are the tip of the iceberg in order to get a liquor license in New York, but will arm you with the information necessary to make an informed decision about getting a liquor license. 

Contact The James Firm today if you need assistance getting a liquor license in New York. The James Firm is an NYC Law Firm helping businesses obtain liquor licenses so they can build multi-million dollar businesses. Read more about our liquor licensing services here. You may contact us by phone or email here