How do I file for a liquor license in New York state?

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Jacob A. Piorkowski - Personal Injury - General - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Jacob A. Piorkowski

Located in Buffalo, NYThe Tarantino Law Firm, LLP

Buffalo, NY
Phone: 716-849-6500
Fax: 716-849-6503

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The New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) is the governing body for liquor licenses in the state of New York. To get a liquor license, you will apply through them. Easy, right? Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as it seems. Multiple factors will affect the type of license you need and licensing issues that will arise in the application process.

1. The business type

Before you can even apply, you need to know what type of business you are going to operate. A restaurant with a bar? A hotel with a bar? A liquor store? A brewery or winery? Each of these will require a different type of license, and every kind of license will have different ramifications for how you will run your business.

2. The location of your business

Every town must be notified of your application, and some areas have their permitting requirements for establishments that sell alcohol. Some places have general conditions such as allowing only a certain number of bars in an area. Additionally, the SLA has the ability to regulate the number of licensed establishments in a particular area. Permitting requirements such as these can be so specific as to prevent you from doing business in a particular area at all.

3. Your personal history

The SLA will want to know if you have held a liquor license before, and if so, whether you have a disciplinary history within the scope of your permit. They will also want to know if you have a general criminal record. Your disciplinary and/or criminal history may result in an automatic denial of your license application, but there are numerous situations where people with past licensing history issues are able to obtain a liquor license with the help of an attorney. 

Other factors in your liquor license application

You will need a full understanding of how you'll plan to run your business to apply for a liquor license, including details such as what type of music you’ll have, whether you’ll have security guards and more. You will also need to show where your funding is coming from. Even if your startup money is coming as a loan from a family member, you will need to explain how your family member got the money.

The liquor license application process is complicated and needs to be completed appropriately. An attorney who is experienced in obtaining liquor licenses can help you at each step: from planning your business type to creating a detailed plan, to handling the hearing if you need to answer questions to the New York State Liquor Authority. You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible if you’re thinking of starting a business that will involve liquor sale.

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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