Starting a wine bar, or any other type of alcoholic beverage business, is more complicated that starting most businesses in California. There are dozens of different kinds of alcoholic beverage licenses, entity formation and ownership issues, key notification requirements and what can feel like a million other boxes to check. Sometimes, all the ABC regulations become so overwhelming that people forget about the basics—like making sure there are no zoning or planning restrictions that would prevent one from operating the planned business in the place one hopes to open. Like all companies, alcoholic beverage businesses are subject to local requirements. If a space is not zoned correctly, or the planned use is not allowed in the space, the problem will take time and money to fix, if it can even be fixed at all. In San Francisco, neighborhoods like the Mission, the Haight and North Beach have extra restrictions relevant to businesses that sell alcohol. To avoid a dilemma, it’s best to ensure that the initial business plan includes an analysis of this issue before a lease is secured.
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