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  • Sutton Square Group

Understanding the Process of Obtaining a Liquor License in NYC

Updated: 3 days ago

Please note that SSG is not a law firm, and that we highly recommend consulting a specialized lawyer before applying for a liquor license.

In NYC, the Alcohol Beverage Control Law (“ABC Law”) regulates liquor licenses, and the State Liquor Authority (“SLA”) oversees the process of providing liquor licenses.

Usually, when applying for a liquor license, the documents needed are, among others:

a) Proof of US Citizenship / Green Card / Citizenship from countries whose citizen can apply for E-1 or E-2 visa;

b) Lease or deed of the establishment that will sell liquor;

c) Financial documents.

Overall, there are 4 types of licenses. This article will focus on the on-premises license, which is most applicable to restaurants.

a) On-premises licenses (e.g., bars, restaurants, taverns, hotels)

b) Off-premises licenses (e.g., liquor stores, wine stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, drug stores)

c) Manufacturing licenses (e.g., bars, restaurants, taverns, hotels)

d) Wholesale licenses (e.g., beer wholesalers, wine wholesalers, importers)

Before applying for an on-premises liquor license, the applicant must provide 30 days’ notice to the relevant Community Board, an appointed advisory group of the NYC government, of its intent to either:

1) Renew the license;

2) Make an alteration to the premises; or,

3) Make substantial change to the corporate ownership.

The Community Board’s role is not to make an ultimate decision on an application, but rather to make a recommendation to the Liquor Authority.

Among many topics, the Community Board that presides over your neighborhood will invite you to discuss:

1) Menus and hours of operation;

2) Outdoor dining options; and

3) Whether the place of business has security in place.

Once submitted to the SLA, most applications take 22 to 26 weeks to be reviewed. However, omissions, inconsistencies, or mistakes can cause significant delays or even denial.

Additionally, the on-premises liquor license, which is an “OP 252" license is valid for 2 years and the cost will vary based on the counties in which the establishment is located. In NYC, the cost of an OP 252 license is $4,352 and the filing fee is $200.

Useful Sources:

Schedule of Retail License Fees:

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