How do I obtain a Louisiana liquor license?

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Amanda Butler - Business/Corporate - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Amanda Butler

Located in New Orleans, LABusiness Law Group

New Orleans, LA
Phone: 504-319-4528

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People might have an unrealistic sense of the ease of starting a business based on what they’ve been exposed to through movies, television or books. Unfortunately, while there are tools in place to help people in obtaining a Louisiana liquor license, the process can be overwhelming for most. If you are seeking to obtain a liquor license, it is best to do some online research and then discuss your situation with an experienced lawyer who can provide the guidance you need. 

One of the complexities of obtaining a Louisiana liquor license is that there are specific processes that must be followed at both the state and local level. Whether you are starting a restaurant that will serve alcohol, for example, or opening a liquor store, your first step would be to visit The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control website. The Louisiana ATC site contains many helpful FAQ pages as well as on-premise and off-premise applications. 

You will also need to examine local requirements. New Orleans, for example, maintains a “one-stop shop” website where you can find general answers as well as business permits and license applications. With applications researched both at the state and city/parish level, you must now familiarize yourself with the strict and often confusing timeline. 

What is the liquor license timeline?

While every situation can be different, there are several scenarios wherein action must be taken in advance of even applying for a liquor license. For example, the Louisiana ATC site explains: 

“If there has not been an alcoholic beverage permit at the premise within the six months prior to the application date then you must apply for, obtain and post Notice of Intent posters for at least 15 days prior to submitting your alcoholic beverage application.” 

Source: Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco Control FAQ 

Most individuals have a goal to open for business on or before a certain day. It is important, then to work backward and ensure all steps are being completed with no unnecessary delays or paperwork snafus. Publication requirements, for example, can derail the process if a deadline is missed. 

Many attorneys focusing on business law suggest that individuals begin researching the process and completing initial steps a minimum of 60 days prior to the anticipated open date. 

What’s the difference between on-premise and off-premise?

Visitors to the Louisiana ATC site will likely note the retailer distinction of on-premise and off-premise alcohol applications. 

  • Alcohol on-premise applications typically refer to those retailers who will sell alcohol to be consumed at the selling location. These businesses can include restaurants, bars, microbrewers and microdistilleries.
  • Alcohol off-premise applications typically refer to those retailers who will sell alcoholic beverages in factory-sealed containers for transportation to and consumption at another location. The most common example is a package liquor store. 

Are corporate disclosures complicated?

Yes, in general. The Louisiana ATC will typically want to drill down into the actual ownership structure of your existing or proposed organization. With dozens of owners, disclosures can become quite complicated. There are certain accommodations, for example, that an experienced attorney might be aware of. For example, while only the main day-to-day owners might need to be fingerprinted, the ATC will want the full hierarchy of everyone who has more than a five percent stake in the organization. If there are a significant number of passive investors, however, it might be possible to negotiate a beneficial resolution with the Louisiana ATC. Additionally, it can be a much simpler process if it’s a family-owned organization. Your lawyer can carefully examine the situation and provide guidance where needed. 

Obtaining a liquor license in Louisiana can be a complex process. While there are websites and help-guides available, the guidance of an experienced business law attorney can be invaluable in keeping you on schedule and far afield of any undue complications.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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