Top Questions To Ask Before You Sign A Lease For Your Florida Restaurant Or Bar
I field frantic calls from potential clients on a daily basis — folks who have signed a lease, are knee-deep in construction permitting, and then realize that they will have a hard time getting a liquor license. I hear things like: “The landlord told me I wouldnt have an issue getting a liquor license, but now the City is saying the space isnt zoned for a restaurant” or “I dont understand! The person who sold me the business said the liquor license was included! Why wont the City approve it?”
A word of caution: you may not want to sign a lease or buy a property for any type of use that involves a liquor license without being certain that you will ultimately be able to get a license for that space. A big part of what I do is assist clients with site selection for uses involving alcohol, including performing zoning due diligence, having discussions with municipal zoning staff, and determining how feasible it will be to get an alcohol-related business up and running.
Here are some things to look out for when you are scoping out a new space for your new restaurant, bar, nightclub, liquor store, convenience store, or any other business involving alcohol sales or service:
1. What type of liquor license do you need?
Ive written a few articles on this issue, but the basics are as follows:
2. Does the space have an existing liquor license?
3. What is the zoning of the property?
4. Is the space properly equipped?
Alcohol Distributor Licenses/permits In Florida
|Distributes alcoholic beverages containing no more than 3.2% of alcohol by weight in dry counties.||$1,250|
|Distributes spirituous, vinous, and malt beverages to vendors and distributors.||$4,000|
|Distributes beer and/or wine to vendors and other distributors.||$1,250|
|Alcohol Importers||IMPR||Licensed to sell, or cause to be sold, shipped and invoiced, domestic and foreign alcoholic beverages to licensed manufacturers, distributors and no one else in the state.||$500|
|Alcohol Exporters||MEXP||Any person who sells alcoholic beverages to persons for use outside the state and includes a ships chandler and a duty free shop|
Licensing For The Alcohol Industry
Licensing includes state and federal licenses, and permits necessary to operate an alcoholic beverage business.
At the state level, the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco is the regulatory agency charged with licensing and regulating the industry. There are alcoholic beverage licenses for vendors, manufacturers, importers and distributors, along with various other types of permits necessary to fully implement an alcoholic beverage business.
At the federal level, the United States Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau licenses and collects taxes from alcoholic beverage businesses. Upper-tier industry members must be very concerned not only with their state licenses, but also with federal licensing. The time frames for TTB to process license applications can often be three months or more, so it is imperative to file the most complete and accurate application as soon as possible.
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How Much Is A Florida Liquor License
Operating a business is expensive and there are a myriad of start-up costs that can add up quickly, putting you far into the red before you ever even open your doors so naturally, you want to minimize and save money wherever you can so you dont want to buy more license than you need, nor do you want to buy less than you need.
A Couple Selecting Wine From A Cellar
There are several different scenarios that can apply to the choice of each of these four licenses so it is essential to know the criteria for each and how your particular business stacks up so that you not only obtain all the license you need but that you also do not over purchase and waste money on more license than you need.
The cost for a 4COP-SRX, or beer, wine, and liquor license, is approximately $1,800 while a 2COP license for on-premises consumption of beer and wine only runs around $400 and the 2APS license for off-premises use of beer and wine is roughly $200.
So, you can see there is a vast difference in costs from license to license.
Although the process can be confusing, it is worth your time to do the necessary research to ensure you are getting exactly what you need for your business to be a success.
Apply For A Liquor License
Before selling alcoholic beverages at your establishment, you must apply for a liquor license. These licenses are available at all levels, with the primary distinctions being the sale of alcoholic beverages on-premises for consumption or off-premises, but do you know the Florida liquor license requirements
An on-premises liquor license allows for the consumption of alcoholic beverages only on the property of the licensed establishment. This is ideal for bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and other entertainment businesses within the hospitality industry.
Conversely, an off-premises license allows the customer to purchase alcohol at your establishment and then leave with it. Examples of businesses that use off-premises liquor licenses are liquor stores or beer & wine for grocery stores and convenience stores..
Whichever type of license you decide to go with, its essential to make sure that you know the regulations and laws that govern liquor sales in your state. We can help you apply for a liquor license or beer & wine license and guide you through the steps.
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Florida Alcohol Sales Laws
When serving alcohol both you and your employees should have a clear understanding of the liquor sales laws and violations in Florida.
Legal drinking age
Federal law also rules in Florida with a legal drinking age of 21. Its illegal for you to sell beer, liquor, or wine to anyone under the age of 21, with no exceptions allowed. If you fail to comply with this law you put your liquor license in jeopardy and may face revokement of the license, steep fines, and even jail time.
Although the legal drinking age is 21, servers aged 18 and older can serve alcohol in your bar or restaurant.
Serving intoxicated customers
Its important that you train your employees about alcohol safety and recognizing the signs of intoxication. Both you and your employees will need to avoid selling to patrons who are intoxicated. Selling alcohol to anyone who appears to be over the limit can result in some heavy civil and criminal liabilities for your business for any damages caused by the intoxicated individual.
Alcohol and driving
Like other U.S. states, driving while under the influence is a crime and can result in heavy fines. There is a Zero Tolerance law in Florida with an immediate drivers license suspension. Your employees may be trained to recognize intoxicated customers its just as important for them to be aware of alcohol and driving laws so they can monitor the number of drinks a patron who they know is driving has consumed.
Hours of sale
Beer And Wine Licenses
You can get a number of different licenses for selling beer and/or wine. The annual license fees vary greatly between them, especially depending on the size of your county.
So, how much is a beer and wine license in Florida? Here are the costs:
- Beer Package Sales : The fee is between $20 and $100 depending on the county size, plus 40% of the fee
- Beer Consumption on Premises : Between $40 and $200 depending on the county size, plus 40% of the fee
- Beer and Wine Package Sales : Between $60 and $140 depending on county size, plus 40% of the fee
- Beer and Wine Consumption on Premises : Between $120 and $280 depending on county size, plus 40% of the fee
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Requirement : Serve Meals To 150 Persons At One Time
Only restaurants that are capable of serving meals to at least 150 persons at one time are allowed to get and keep a 4COP-SFS license. The ABT has interpreted this requirement to mean serving at least 150 persons full meals that are consumed one the premises. In other words, it is not enough that a restaurant have a kitchen capable of preparing 150 meals at one time. The restaurant must also have tables, chairs, servers and service capacity that is sufficient to serve those meals to 150 persons present in the restaurant at the same time. In other words, a restaurants robust carryout or Uber Eats business is not enough.
To determine whether a restaurant meets the 150 Persons Requirement, the ABT generally takes into account three sources of information:
Types Of Liquor Licenses Available
Beer and wine
If you plan to sell only beer and wine, Florida has a few types of applications. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation can guide you through the requirements of each type of beer and wine application with the DABT. Whether you plan to have beer and wine consumed on-site at your premises or engage in package sales for the beverages to be consumed off-site, beer and wine licenses can be obtained by submitting a complete application to the state.
Figuring out how to get a liquor license in Florida for hard liquor sales is more challenging. A license for beer, wine, and hard alcohol sales and consumption requires obtaining something called a quota license. This will allow you to sell and serve a wide variety of alcoholic beverages at your establishment. Quota licenses are issued based on the population in each county. The number of licenses available is typically computed at around one license per every 7,500 people in a county.
Under normal circumstances, you can only obtain a quota license by purchasing one from an existing licensee. You can also apply to receive a quota license in the annual Florida quota license lottery. These licenses tend to be the most expensive and difficult to obtain, but they can also be the most desirable depending upon your business model.
Special food service license
Other types of licenses
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How To Get A Liquor License In Florida
This article is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal or tax advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.
If youre opening a business that sells alcohol in Florida, youll need to obtain applicable liquor licenses. The process can be complex because the state of Florida has very specific license requirements and is one of several states that uses a quota system for licenses that is, it has a limit on the number of licenses it issues per county.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation regulates all business licensing activities, but the Division of Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco specifically issues all liquor licenses and permits. While the ABT provides detailed information regarding the application process, understanding those requirements can make the process easier and help you get a license faster. Below are key steps to keep in mind.
What Are Florida Liquor License Requirements
It is essential to properly obtain a liquor license in Florida before selling alcoholic beverages at your place of business. You can face penalties and fines for selling liquor without a license. Additionally, failure to obtain a liquor license prior to selling alcohol can bar you from securing a liquor license in the future.
When working on how to get a liquor license in Florida, the forms and fees may be simple. However, at several points, youll have to make complex decisions that could impact the future of your business. The most challenging part will be understanding Florida liquor license requirements for each type of license. Well break the process down into individual components below.
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Applying For A Liquor License In Florida
Before you begin the application process, you need a clear understanding of what your business will do with the beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages you stock. For example, restaurants, package stores, and convenience stores deal with alcoholic beverages, operating in different environments. Here are some other considerations:
- Can your customers bring in their alcohol?
- What days of the week and hours of the day will you sell or serve alcohol?
- How and where will you store the alcohol?
- Will your business serve or sell alcohol only on your licensed premises? Or will you want to conduct alcohol sales offsite as well?
The answers to these questions help you decide what kind of Florida liquor license types you need to apply for.
The application process involves applying, along with the required fee and any supporting documents, including but not limited to your employer identification number, a copy of your business license, and proof of the needed business permits such as health, zoning, and sales tax.
The timeline for approval may be as long as six months, and the state may ask for additional documentation along the way. Dont wait until the last minute to apply for your alcoholic beverage license instead, make your application as soon as you can so that you have everything in place for opening day.
Florida Liquor License Fees
What is the cost of a Liquor License in Florida?
Liquor License FL is here to help all entrepreneurs looking to start a profitable business. We are a dedicated liquor license brokerage firm, ready to face up to all challenges that might appear. With a highly experienced staff that is familiar to all the rules and regulations of every Florida County we are here to help you obtain the license you desire fast and seamlessly. Below you will find the current 2020 Fees associated with the license type you desire.
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Aps Florida Liquor License
This is a license that allows the purchase and sale of beer and wine for off-premise consumption. Supermarkets, convenience stores, and gas stations most often hold this license. Rules, regulations and placement regarding this type of beer and wine license in Florida may vary depending on the county and the municipality.
What Is A Quota License
For every increase in the population of a county by 7500 residents, a newquota license is created. In order to obtain a quota license, you must either buy an existing license, or enter the quota drawing to win the right to apply for a quota license. The winner may then apply for the issuance of the new license.
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S In The Process Of Getting A Beer And Wine License In Florida
Gathering informationBefore applying for a beer and wine license in Florida, documentation regarding the location, zoning, right of occupancy, and other specific details must be acquired.
This includes but is not limited to items such as:
- Evidence that the applicant has the legal right of occupancy by way of a lease or deed
- Approval by the local zoning authority
- The floor plan sketch of the premises
- If a corporation, registration with the Florida Division of Corporations
- The EIN number for the applicant
There is other information that is required for which we can assist in gathering. You are also required to provide personal information to determine whether you have held a license that has been suspended or revoked, whether you have had any criminal charges filed against you in the last 15 years, whether you have been convicted of an offense involving alcoholic beverages or tobacco products within the last five years, as well as whether you meet the standards of the moral character rule.
After application submission to the local DABT district office and the location inspection of the premises, the decision to approve or deny a license is made and mailed to the applicant. Once we outline these steps, it helps us assist customers and clients with what is required and what steps are necessary to secure a license.Accordingly, it is recommended that you consult an expert like our knowledgeable team in order to:
Where Can I Get Help With A Florida Liquor License
Getting an alcoholic beverage license in Florida can be a complex task from the moment you start the process. Any errors, such as applying for the wrong kind of permit or failing to submit the correct documentation, can add time to the process of getting your license. You have many things to think about when youre starting or expanding your business. Let the professionals at Beverage License Specialists handle the steps to get your Florida alcohol license. We know how to avoid the common pitfalls that cost applicants money and time.
Beverage License Specialists can help you get your company up and running with an alcoholic beverage license that complies with Floridas requirements for offering alcoholic beverages for consumption on or off premise. With 33 years of experience, we have worked with all kinds of businesses all over the state. Not only do we know the requirements and how to navigate the complex system, but we do it all with a high level of service and outstanding communication. When youre ready to start or expand your business, contact Beverage License Specialists for help with your liquor license needs, as well as financing options.
Feauterd Image: Ingo70/Shutterstock
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Florida Liquor License Requirements And Laws
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation regulates licensing of businesses and professionalsâfrom alcohol beverages and tobacco to veterinary medicine, yachts, and ships.
Youâll visit the DBPR website to get an application or apply online for an alcoholic beverage license. But that isnât your first step. Before you can submit your form to a district office, you must meet several requirements.