Ask anyone who’s ever successfully opened a new bar, restaurant or liquor store what their top three greatest startup obstacles were, and there’s a good chance that many, if not all, will tell you stories about the difficulties involved in obtaining their liquor license.  Saying that the process is complex would be a gross understatement, as it can take months, sometimes up to a year, before it’s issued… provided that it’s been approved and granted.

If you’re planning on opening an establishment that serves beer, wine or liquor, doing some homework on your local liquor laws, and knowing what to expect along the way, will help immensely as you go through the motions.

Help getting a Liquor License

One of the most important things to remember, is that being issued a liquor license is not a slam dunk, not fast, and most certainly not as simple as filling out a form and checking your mailbox the following week.  Here’s are some hard facts to keep in mind if you’re planning on selling alcohol at your business.

  • Liquor laws and compliance regulations vary greatly on a state-to-state basis and based on the type of license involved. Receiving and keeping your liquor license depends heavily on how you adhere to them.
  • The process of receiving a liquor license can be a lengthy, often stressful that requires a great deal of paperwork, hefty fees and extensive information verification. In many cases, a business owner needs a combination of several licenses and permits to meet its business objectives.  In New York, processing times are around 6 months for most licenses at the time of this writing.
  • You’ll need to familiarize yourself with your state’s liquor laws, including when liquor can and can’t be sold, who can sell it, and to whom it can be sold. Alcohol is a highly regulated industry and can involve federal, state and local laws from several different regulatory agencies. At times, it may seem like these various agencies don’t play well in the sandbox with one another so working with an experienced professional can be immensely helpful.
  • Liquor laws not only vary from state to state, but individual counties and towns can set their own laws, restricting liquor sales or banning it outright. Under state and federal law, the local community directly affected by the use and sale of alcohol can regulate within its borders. The impact to licensees is a bit of a patchwork quilt of different rules in adjacent towns that can increase confusion to both the business owner and the general public
  • Start the process well in advance of your opening.  Waiting until the last minute can be disastrous, and you won’t be allowed to sell alcohol while it’s in the review phases. Temporary permits are available in some, but not all, situations, but even they can take several months to get.

Accepting Payment for Liquor and Alcohol Sales

One of the things you’re going to be asked by those responsible for issuing (or denying) your liquor license, is how you plan to accept payments.  This is yet another aspect that, in theory, sounds simple.  Only once you start exploring all of the available options from a dizzying number of POS companies, can you understand why so many give up and select a provider at random.  This is a monumental mistake. POS systems are one of the best ways for business owners to stay in regulatory compliance. The advanced technology offers features that save business owners time and money, and ensure that audits and inspections go smoothly because of the organized record-keeping and report functions. Technology allows business owners to automate record keeping and financial documentation. This saves money on lawyers and accountants who used to have to handle these functions and gives the business owner more control over daily operations and management decision making since data is available in “real time” for the business owner to access.

Liquor Max is one of the industry’s leading providers of website development, point-of-sale and payment processing for liquor stores, bars, restaurants and others who sell beer, wine and spirits.  Moreover, we’re extremely knowledgeable on a wide range of retail and eCommerce topics, working closely with our clients to help them thrive in all aspects of their operation.

Get in touch through our contact page to learn more about selling liquor, accepting payment for alcohol purchases, or anything else that’s on your mind.