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Getting Started in the Business: Location

This blog entry is part of a continuing series discussing important steps to get started in the alcoholic beverage industry. If you intend to obtain an alcoholic beverage license for your business, you’ll need to have a location for the business before you apply. In selecting a location, you should consider the following factors.

State: Each state has different licenses available, charges different fees for its licenses, and applies different rules to its licensees. Further, some states move faster than others in issuing licenses. Once you’ve settled on a business model, you should choose a state that is favorable to your model and where you can get licensed on a schedule that works for your launch plans.

Zoning and Lease: Check with the local planning department to make sure the location that you are considering is properly zoned for the proposed activity. If it is not properly zoned, the process to obtain an exception can be long, expensive and unpredictable, so proceed with caution. If you must enter a lease before applying for an alcoholic beverage license, be sure to include a provision that allows you to vacate the lease if you are unable to obtain the desired alcoholic beverage license at the location.

Limited Availability: In some localities and for some license types, the number of available licenses is limited. If you cannot obtain a new license from the alcohol regulatory agency and have to buy one on the open market, prices may vary widely depending on supply and demand. This is particularly common in densely populated areas. Be aware that a slight change in location can have a large impact on the availability and cost of the license you need.

Consideration Points: Though each state is different, most states do not want alcohol businesses to be close (within 500 ft.) to churches or schools. If there are residential neighbors near your proposed location, they will also be given an opportunity to oppose your license application. Try to determine if your business will be welcomed by the local police department and residents. If local law enforcement does not support your project, you may face an uphill licensing battle. Moreover, sometimes an active anti-alcohol neighborhood group can delay or even derail a licensing project. Typically, a large poster-sized notice announcing your application will be posted while the license is pending, so if you elect to license your home, be prepared for curious neighbors.

The most important consideration in choosing a location for your business is deciding where you want/need to be located. For example, where do you want to spend your time? Where do you want to make most of your sales? Do you need to have access to a warehouse or will an office suffice? What sort of staffing will you need to operate the business and is it available within the local labor pool? Are economies of scale possible by sharing warehousing or production facilities?

Contact one of the attorneys at Strike Kerr & Johns if you have questions about things to consider when choosing a location to get started in the alcohol beverage business.

Alcohol.law Digest is published for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Copyright © 2013 · All Rights Reserved ·


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