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Archive for the 'NYSLA License Classes' Category

Sep 25 2015

Community Boards and Liquor License Applications (Q and A)

fb_meeting_web_siteAre Community Boards notified of when the NYSLA receives applications in their neighborhoods?

For certain types of establishments, Community Boards are notified before the NYSLA receives an application. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Law requires that anyone applying for an on-premises license notify their community board of their intention to apply for a liquor license 30 days before filing an application with the State Liquor Authority. Proof of the 30 day notice must be submitted with the application. The community board may submit an opinion, either in favor of or against granting the license. That opinion will become part of the record used by the NYSLA in deciding whether to approve the application.

What are the different types of licenses granted by the NYSLA?

There are several types of licenses granted by the NYSLA, the following are the four basic ones issued: On-Premises Liquor: Generally considered to be the standard “bar” license. Allows on-premises consumption of liquor, wine and beer and also allows for sale of beer (only) for off-premises consumption.  Food, such as soups and sandwiches, MUST be served. Grocery Beer/Wine: Off-premises beer license as listed above, see “Grocery Store Beer”. Additionally a “wine product” is defined as a beverage containing wine with added juice, flavoring, water, citric acid, sugar and carbon dioxide, not containing more than six percent alcohol by volume (typically referred to as “wine coolers”).  Catering: Allows providers of food for banquet halls, dining halls, etc., to provide liquor, wine and beer for consumption for an assemblage for a particular function (i.e. retirement dinner, wedding reception, private party) to which the general public is not admitted. This license is for this type of function only. Liquor Store: For the sale of liquor and wine (no beer) for consumption off the premises. The only additional items allowed to be sold, such as ice and corkscrews, are listed in the ABC Law. Only one license is allowed per person (corporation, partnership, etc.).

What is the 500 foot rule and how does this apply to community boards? When the NYSLA receives an application, there is a general presumption that it will be approved unless there is a good reason not to approve it. However, for on premises license applications falling under the 500 foot rule, (meaning there are already 3 or more existing establishments with the same type of license within 500 feet of the proposed applicant), the presumption switches, and by law the application cannot be approved unless the SLA finds that issuing the license would be in the public interest. The 500 foot law requires the NYSLA to consult with the community board and conduct a hearing to gather facts to determine whether the public interest would be served by issuing the license. Generally speaking, if there is no opposition to the application, and no other issues presented that requires consideration by the Members of the Authority, the application is acted on by the NYSLA’s Licensing Bureau. In cases where the community board or other interested parties oppose the application, or there are other issues requiring review by the Members of the Authority, the matter is referred to the Members for determination. It is important to note that the fact that there is opposition to an application does not necessarily mean that the Authority will disapprove the application. The Authority may also applications even when there is no opposition. In situations where there is opposition to an application, applicants may come to an agreement on stipulations concerning the operation of the establishment (e.g. closing hours, live music, etc). In such cases, the applicant may incorporate those stipulations into the approved method of operation. These stipulations then become conditions of the license privilege and failure to comply subjects the licensee to disciplinary action. The SLA can impose certain conditions on the operation of the establishment without the consent of the applicant if there is good cause to do so.

Stipulations: Before a license is issued, if a Community Board and applicant agree to certain conditions of the license, some of which can be written into the license and some that cannot, how can the Community Board handle this? If the Community Board and the applicant reach an agreement with respect to the operation of the establishment, the applicant can incorporate into the application those conditions that are relevant to the operation of a licensed establishment.

What is the 200 foot rule? Under the “200 Foot Rule” an establishment cannot be licensed to sell liquor at retail if it is on the same street and within 200 feet of a school, church, synagogue or other place of worship. The rule also applies to wine stores. It does not apply to on premises establishments that are licensed for wine and/or beer only and to grocery stores. There are two exceptions under the law if the establishment existed prior to the enactment of the law in 1934 or if the location was licensed prior to the existence of the school or place of worship and has been continuously licensed ever since.

What weight does the CB have in recommending approval or denial of retail license? While not binding on the Members of the Authority, the NYSLA considers input from community boards in all licensing decisions. However, courts have held that, for applications not subject to the 500 foot rule, community opposition alone is not sufficient to disapprove an application.

How do I know what Community Board represents me? The following link is from the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit. http://www.nyc.gov/html/cau/html/cb/directory.shtml

Can a bar or nightclub “transfer” their license to another owner? Does the Community Board need to be notified? Does a transfer require NYSLA approval? Licensees may not “transfer” a license, in the way transfer is commonly understood (i.e. licenses may not be sold or given from one person or company to another). The NYSLA’s Licensing Bureau staff uses the terms “transfer” and “new” applications only to differentiate between an application for an establishment that is currently licensed and selling their business (transfer) and an establishment that is not currently licensed (new). In both cases, the license applicant must go through the same process, including notifying their CB and holding a 500 foot-hearing if applicable. A corporate licensee may have a change of officers, directors and stockholders without going through the entire application process. In such a case the licensee has to submit information regarding the new persons coming into the corporation and the financing involved.

How do temporary permits work? If a license applicant gets a temporary, does this mean they will get a full liquor license? A license applicant who is purchasing the existing business that is currently licensed to sell alcoholic beverages may file an application for a Temporary Retail Permit. This allows the license applicant to begin operating the business and serving alcoholic beverages while their application for a permanent license is being reviewed. In order to qualify for this permit, the establishment must have been open and operating at least 30 days prior to the filing of the application. The permit is granted at the discretion of the NYSLA for a period of 90 days, and may be renewed. Issuance of the permit is not a guarantee that the licensee will be approved for a permanent license.

Does the license expire once the licensee’s establishment ceases to exist? A liquor license is connected to the individual and a specific location. If the establishment ceases to exist their license certificate must be returned to the NYSLA. If the entity has vacated the premises is considered abandoned, the NYSLA Licensing Bureau sends out an abandonment letter to verify if the prior tenant has vacated the premises. When a licensee closes their business, they are required to alert the NYSLA and hand in their license, this is referred to as “surrendering” the license. Licensees are entitled to a refund on the unused portion of their licensing fee.

Are there any routine unannounced inspections of establishments by NYSLA’s enforcement unit to ensure compliance with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law or is it complaint driven? The SLA conducts unannounced undercover inspections as part of its investigation of a licensee. An investigation by the SLA may include: 1. on-site inspections of a licensed establishment; 2. on-site undercover investigations by NYSLA Investigators and other law enforcement agencies; 3. a review of reports and investigations by other law enforcement and regulatory agencies; and 4. interviewing potential witnesses/complainants and collecting evidence of potential violations. Information comes to the NYSLA from a variety of sources, including police and other law enforcement agency referrals, complaints by other government agencies or officials, and complaints made by the public. The identity of a person making a complaint is kept confidential.

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Mar 19 2014

NYSLA Says Certain Brunch “Bottomless Glass” Specials Are OK?

bottomless Glass BrunchUnlimited drink specials are illegal in New York (with limited exception for private events).   This Prohibition included “bottomless glass” of champagne brunch specials but it is regularly ignored because most owners are simply not aware of it. However, the prohibition was recently placed into the spotlight and the New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) issued the following statement on Feb. 26, 2014 which was supposed to ease and clarify the prohibition:

“Serving unlimited drinks to a patron is prohibited under the Alcoholic Beverage Control law, and instances of over serving by our licensees will be investigated and prosecuted.   However, there is a limited exception in the statute when the service of alcohol is incidental to the event, such as in the case of certain brunch specials.  Even under these limited exceptions, licensees still have a legal obligation not to over serve patrons.  The SLA will continue to take a balanced regulatory approach by allowing licensees to conduct specials where alcohol is an accompaniment, while simultaneously cracking down on specials that promote excessive drinking.”   -New York State Liquor Authority

The New York City Hospitality Alliance publicly commended the NYSLA for issuing this statement and for providing such clarity.  However, all the rest of us must have missed the “clarity” that the NYC Hospitality Alliance apparently saw in that statement.

“…there is a limited exception in the statute when the service of alcohol is incidental to the event, such as in the case of certain brunch specials.”  When is the service of alcohol incidental to the event/brunch?  Always?  Sometimes?  When there are pancakes on the menu? Why just brunch?  If the service of alcohol can now be now deemed incidental during brunch, why is it not deemed incidental during lunch or dinner as well?

The reality is that the NYSLA statement provides no clarity whatsoever on the prohibition and in fact causes more confusion because now there appears to be some new exception to the prohibition that applies to certain brunch specials . . .but leaves us all in the dark as to the necessary elements of this exception.  Until there is some actual clarification or specifically stated exception to the prohibition, we still recommend that you do not offer any unlimited drink specials during brunch, lunch, dinner or otherwise.

 

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Apr 18 2013

PRESENTING AT THE COMMUNITY BOARD – LIQUOR LICENSE APPLICATION

You are required to provide the local Community Board (“CB”) with notice at least 30 days prior to filing an on-premise liquor license application the New York State Liquor Authority (“NYSLA”). The CB may then put you on their hearing agenda to find out more about your project. At the CB hearing they may ask you about everything from the type of cuisine that you plan on selling to your affiliations with any other NYSLA licensed premises. Nothing is off limits.

I am always asked, “Do I need to have a lawyer with me at this hearing?” My response, which is not going to please my fellow attorneys, is absolutely not. In fact, I typically recommend that you don’t bring an attorney there and that you should never have an attorney go in place of you. The reason is simple. If you were a CB member, would you want to hear the details about the restaurant / bar project from an attorney or directly from the owner/operator of the project? The CB does not want to hear an attorney describe the type of cuisine that you are offering, or what you will do to prevent people from lining up outside, or that you will not have dancing in your premises. They want to hear these assurances from you . . .the operator; the person responsible for ensuring that all of these assurances are going to be kept. I typically recommend that you retain an attorney to be present at the CB hearing only in the event that (i) you anticipate strong opposition to your project, or (ii) are uncomfortable with public speaking. Otherwise, save yourself money and have the person who is best able to present the details of your project present them. . .you.

In a related matter, Community Board 1 in Queens, NY, has just voted against the issuance of a liquor license for a bar where all the female staff would serve wearing only bikinis. The CB cited, amongst the reasons, that this type of establishment would not be appropriate surrounding family oriented community. The proposed name of the bar . . . “Racks.”

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Oct 04 2012

NYSLA Conducts New York City Underage Sweep

The New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) recently concluded an underage sting operation in New York City where SLA investigators sent underage volunteer decoys into 239 licensed premises in all five New York City boroughs. In total, the decoys were able to purchase alcohol at an astounding 124 establishments.  The sting was conducted from March 29 through April 5, 2012.

The outcome of this sting is surprising.  More than half of the premises that were raided had violated the law and served alcohol to minors.  These violations are accompanied by monetary penalties and worse. For a first offense, a Licensee may be able to get away with paying a fine in the amount of $2,500.00 or so to the SLA to settle the charge . . .but if it is not their first violation, they may be looking at having a costly suspension or revocation hearing at the SLA.

However, the good news is that avoiding these violations are very easy.  Licensee’s must (i) train their employees as to what forms of ID are acceptable; (ii) insist that their employees require valid ID from all individuals that appear to be less than the age of 45 (just to safe) and (iii) inform employees that they are subject to job termination should they fail to properly check ID.

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Jan 28 2011

NEW YORK STATE LIQUOR AUTHORITY EASES 30 DAY NOTICE REQUIREMENT

noticePreviously, the ABC Law required most license applicants and renewal applicants file notifications via certified mail with their local community boards a minimum of 30 days in advance of filings with the New York State Liquor Authority. Effective January 11, 2011, the types of notice that are considered legally sufficient to satisfy these notice requirements have expanded as follows: overnight delivery or personal service is added to the list of options available for new or renewal applicants for on-premises beer licenses, full on-premises liquor licenses, restaurant-brewer licenses, cabaret licenses, and on-premises wine licenses. In addition, overnight delivery is added to the list of options available for alteration applications [ABCL §99-d(1)].

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Dec 17 2010

NEW 20 DAY TEMPORARY PERMIT AUTHORIZED BY THE NEW YORK STATE LIQUOR AUTHORITY

On November 17, 2010, the Executive Committee of the New York State Liquor Authority authorized the issuance of a new permit to liquor license applicants. Specifically, the New York State Liquor Authority may now issue a 20 Day Temporary Letter allowing the applicant to serve for 20 days provided that they are only missing the following from their liquor license application:
1) Certificate of Authority;
2) Workers’ Compensation or Disability Insurance;
3) Newspaper Affidavit;
4) Photos showing that the applicant is ready to open; and/or
5) Surrender of the current license in effect for the premise, if any.

Presently, this new 20 Day permit policy will remain in effect until February 17, 2011 at which point it will be revisited by the Authority. 

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Nov 30 2010

MOST COMMON NY LIQUOR LICENSE VIOLATIONS


warning-drinking-prohibited-sign-3102The following list, while not all inclusive, will help to familiarize you with the most common violations of the NY ABC Law:
1. Sale to Minor (under 21 years old) – Section 65.1. (It is important to note that the Members of the Authority have directed that any sale to a person under 16 can result in revocation of the license, even
for a first offense.)
2. Sale to Intoxicated Person – Section 65.2.
3. Prohibited Hours of Sale – Sections 105.(a), 105.14 and 106.5.
4. Prohibited Hours of Consumption – Section 106.5.
5. Employment of a Minor – Section 100.2(a) – Bartenders, waitresses, waiters, hostesses and/or any persons who handle and receive payment for alcoholic beverages must be at least 18 years old. Bus persons and dishwashers who handle containers which have held alcoholic beverages must be at least 16 years old and must be directly supervised by someone at least 21 years old. Clerks and cashiers in liquor and/or wine stores or drug stores must be at least 18 years old. Clerks and cashiers who handle and receive payment for alcoholic beverages in grocery stores and convenience stores must be at least 16 years old and must be supervised by someone at least 18 years old.
6. Disorderly Premises (includes Gambling at on premises establishments, Lewd and Indecent conduct, Excessive Noise, Assaults, Narcotics at on premises establishments, Prostitution) – Section 106.6.
7. Gambling at establishments.
8. Narcotics at establishments.
9. Operating outside of your approved method of operation (e.g., operating as a “Bar” even though your application stated your use was going to be a “Restaurant” or use of security guards despite stating otherwise on your application, etc.).
10. Alteration of a licensed premise without approval of the Liquor Authority.
11. Minors in Licensed Establishment (According to Section 260.21 of the Penal Law, persons under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to enter an on premises establishment).

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Oct 30 2010

NEW LAW EXPEDITES LIQUOR SALES OUTSIDE OF NYC

unlimited_drinks_NYSLA

The law (S.6231C) which took effect in October 2010, creates a new program within the New York State Liquor Authority whereby an applicant for a liquor license can receive a temporary permit while waiting for their liquor license application to be processed. Prior to this law, an applicant could only receive a temporary permit if they are purchasing a business which already has a liquor license. The new temporary permit program will be a one year pilot program and should allow applicants to serve alcohol via the temporary permit within just weeks of applying.

The bad news . . .this new program currently applies only to applicants located OUTSIDE of New York City.

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Apr 04 2010

NYSLA SELF CERTIFICATION PROGRAM – IT WORKS!

This article is written as a follow up to my article regarding the New York State Liquor Authority Self Certification Process: http://www.restaurantlawyerblog.com/2010/01/04/liquor-licenses-granted-in-under-one-month/

In short, the process works great.  We’ve gotten conditional letters of approval for our self-certified liquor license applications within just one week from the date that we filed the applications! This allowed my clients to serve booze within just a couple of weeks of the date that I filed their application. . . a process that used to take months.  Kudos to the New York State Liquor Authority on this self certification program.

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Apr 01 2010

NYS LIQUOR AUTHORITY LICENSES: CLASSES AND FEES

LICENSE FEES: All of the license fees listed below are applicable to the counties of New York, Kings, Bronx and Queens only.  Other counties will have different fees.  All license applicants will also incur a $100.00 or $200.00 filing fee and a fee of $75.00 per fingerprint card. The fees below also only apply to one bar in the establishment. For each additional bar in the premise, add on another full license fee.DRUG STORE BEER: Beer license for off-premises only by bonafide pharmacies (take out). This is a Three (3) year license and costs $330.00.GROCERY STORE BEER: Beer license for off-premises only by bonafide groceries (take out). This is a Three (3) year license and costs $330.00.
 

GROCERY BEER/WINE PRODUCT: Off-premises beer license as listed above, see “Grocery Store Beer”. Additionally a “wine product” is defined as a beverage containing wine with added juice, flavoring, water, citric acid, sugar and carbon dioxide, not containing more than six percent alcohol by volume (typically referred to as “wine coolers”). This is a Three (3) year license and costs $594.00.

DRUG BEER/WINE PRODUCT: Off-premises beer license as listed above (see “Drug Store Beer/Wine Product”). Also note “Wine Product” definition under “Grocery Beer/Wine Product”. This is a Three (3) year license and costs $594.00.

EATING PLACE BEER: For on-premises (consumption on the premises) beer. Food must be prepared and served on the premises to satisfy the SLA that the sale of beer is incidental to and not the prime source of revenue for the premises. Beer may ALSO be sold for off-premises consumption (take out). This is a Three (3) year license and costs $960.00.

HOTEL BEER: A hotel is a building used for the regular feeding and lodging of guests. This may also apply to apartment situations whereupon the keeper of such hotel provides meals in a restaurant for occupants. License includes room service situations as well as sale for “off-premises” consumption (take out). This is a Three (3) year license and costs $960.00.

CLUB BEER: Does NOT refer to “nightclub” or “private” bar where the applicant wishes to restrict admission to certain classes or groups of people. A “club” refers to an organization of persons incorporated under the “Not-for-Profit Corporation” law or the “Benevolent Orders” law, and which is the owner, lessee or occupant of the building used EXCLUSIVELY for club purposes. An Alcoholic Beverage Control officer must be appointed to act as a liaison to the SLA. This license allows for consumption of beer on the premises for members and guests. This is a Three (3) year license and costs $750.00.

BALL PARK BEER: For on-premises consumption of beer at baseball parks, racetracks, and other athletic fields and stadia OTHER than those maintained by EDUCATIONAL Institutions. This is a Three (3) year license and costs $576.00.

RESTAURANT WINE: License for on-premises consumption of wine and beer in a place where food is prepared in such quantities that the sale of wine and beer is not the prime source of revenue. This is a One (1) year license and costs $480.00.

HOTEL WINE: See “Hotel Beer” for definition of “hotel”. Allows on-premises sale of wine and beer in both a restaurant in the hotel as well as room service. This is a One (1) year license and costs $480.00.

CLUB WINE: Does NOT mean “nightclub” or “private bar” designed to restrict admission to a specific group of persons, or class of people. See “Club Beer” for definition of “Club”. Allows for on-premises sale of wine or beer for club members and guests. The club must appoint an ABC officer. This is a One (1) year license and costs $375.00.

LIQUOR STORE: For the sale of liquor and wine (no beer) for consumption off the premises. The only additional items allowed to be sold, such as ice and corkscrews, are listed in the ABC Law. Only one license is allowed per person (corporation, partnership, etc.). This is a Three (3) year license and costs $4,098.00.HOTEL LIQUOR: See “Hotel Beer” for definition of “Hotel”. Allows consumption of liquor, wine and beer on the premises, including room service. Allows for consumption off the premises, sale of beer only (not liquor or wine). The holder of an “HL” license may apply for a “Hotel Off-Premises” (HOP) permit to sell liquors and wines for off-premises consumption provided there is no liquor store in an eight mile radius. This is a Two (2) year license and costs $4,352.00.CLUB LIQUOR: Does NOT refer to “nightclub” or “private” bar where the applicant wishes to restrict admission to a certain group or class of people. See “Club Beer” for definition of Club. License allows consumption for on the premises for liquor, wine and beer for members and guests. The club MUST appoint an ABC Officer. This is a Two (2) year license and costs $1,500.00.

CATERING ESTABLISHMENT: Allows providers of food for banquet halls, dining halls, etc., to provide liquor, wine and beer for consumption for an assemblage for a particular function (i.e. retirement dinner, wedding reception, private party) to which the general public is not admitted. This license is for this type of function only. This is a Two (2) year license and costs $2,902.00.

ON-PREMISES LIQUOR: Generally considered to be the standard “bar” license. Allows on-premises consumption of liquor, wine and beer and also allows for sale of beer (only) for off-premises consumption. Food, such as soups and sandwiches, MUST be served. This is a Two (2) year license and costs $4,352.00.

CABARET LIQUOR: For consumption on the premises, liquor, wine and beer, but for premises specializing in musical entertainment. Must have a capacity for at least 600 persons. This is a Two (2) year license and costs $4,352.00.

WINE STORE: Not to be confused with the Retail Wine Outlet for a Farm Winery. License to sell WINE ONLY (not liquor or beer) for off-premises consumption, under the same basic conditions as a Liquor Store. This is a One (1) year license and costs $640.00.

MICROBREWERY: May produce or brew up to 60,000 barrels of beer. May sell to licensees. May NOT sell to the general public without a brewer’s retail permit. May apply for an on-premises liquor license in or adjacent to the brewery. This is a One (1) year license and costs $412.50.

RESTAURANT – BREWER: Commonly referred to as a “brew pub” license. This license allows brewing of beer on-premises, as well as on-premises sale of liquor, wine and beer. The applicant must have a bonafide restaurant. The applicant may have up to five separate locations, and may produce 5,000 barrels of beer per location, not to exceed 20,000 barrels. This is a Three (3) year license and costs $5,850.00.

SUPPLEMENTAL RESTAURANT BREWER: Allows a restaurant brewer to sell for off-premises, wholesale, and outdoor gatherings, up to 250 barrels of beer a year. This is a Three (3) year license and costs $1,125.00.

TAVERN WINE: Allows sale for on-premises consumption of wine and beer. This is a One (1) year license and costs $576.00.

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