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Applying for a New York State Liquor License
February 7, 2014

The licensing process in New York State is time-consuming, complex and paper intensive.  While you may be able to maneuver through the process on your own, an experienced and knowledgeable attorney can ensure the application is complete, and in certain cases, provide a certification that may help expedite the process.  More importantly, however, retaining an experienced attorney frees you up to handle the other details of getting your establishment up and running.

There are several different types of liquor licenses depending on the type of alcohol you wish to sell, the nature of your establishment, and whether the alcohol will be consumed on or off the licensed premises.  The New York State Liquor Authority (“Authority”) and its Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“ABC”) is the agency responsible for, among other things, reviewing and issuing or denying liquor licenses in New York State.  The SLA strictly enforces the law, imposing substantial fines and/or revoking licenses, and/or lodging of criminal charges against those who violate the law.

Some requirements, if not promptly attended to, may delay the application.  For example, on premises liquor licenses require at least 30 days’ advance notice to the relevant local municipality that you intend to apply for a liquor license.  While under some limited circumstances the municipality may waive the 30-day requirement, the 30-day period should be included in calculating your anticipated opening date.  In addition, if your establishment will be located within 500 feet of three or more businesses that presently hold a liquor license, a hearing may be necessary, where a determination will be made regarding whether an additional licensed premises will benefit the relevant community.  Also, you want to ensure that the individuals involved in the venture are capable of being licensed – do they or their spouse have any criminal history? Did they previously hold a liquor license that was revoked or suspended?  While such history may not necessarily prevent an individual from being licensed, it could delay the processing of the application.

Preparation of the application and all of the accompanying documents is a significant undertaking.  Each individual identified in the application must provide a personal questionnaire, photo identification, proof of residence and employment for the last 10 years and citizenship, as well as undergo fingerprinting, usually at their local police station.  In addition, financial documents and information showing the source of all funds that will be used for the business venture, detailed diagrams and photographs of the inside, outside and surrounding areas of the premises, menus (if applicable), leases and/or mortgages entitling the applicant to use of the premises, a $1,000 bond, proof of publications in the local newspaper, proof of disability and workers’ compensation insurance, and a certificate of occupancy are just some of the many documents which must accompany an application.

HoganWillig’s attorneys and staff have the knowledge and experience to assist you with this complex and time-consuming process.  More importantly, HoganWillig will work hard to ensure that your liquor license is approved by the time you are ready to open your doors for business!

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