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New Jersey restaurants are looking into obtaining a liquor license now more than ever. Legislation going through the NJ Assembly could ease up liquor license issuance laws. The passage of such an act could generate millions of dollars in revenue for Garden State restaurants. It’s important to know all the steps towards obtaining a liquor license. Check out this quick guide on how your restaurant can obtain one, brought to you by POS Philly.

Understand Different Types of Licenses

NJ offers various types of liquor licenses, there are 3 broad categories Retail Consumption, Retail Distribution, and Wholesale licenses. Each type has its own set of rules and regulations, so it’s important to choose the one that aligns with your business model. 

The Retail Licenses (designated as Class C licenses) are issued to bars, restaurants, and liquor stores. There are 11 different types of New Jersey Liquor Licenses all within the Retail License categories: 

Plenary Retail Consumption License (Class C): 

This license permits the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on the licensed premises, such as bars, restaurants, and taverns. 

Plenary Retail Distribution License (Class D): 

This license allows for the sale of alcoholic beverages in original containers (e.g., bottles, cans) for consumption off the licensed premises, typically at liquor stores or liquor shops. 

Club License (Class C or D): 

A club license permits the sale of alcoholic beverages to members and guests for consumption on the club’s premises. There are both consumption (Class C) and distribution (Class D) club licenses. 

Hotel or Motel License (Class E): 

This license allows hotels and motels to sell alcoholic beverages to registered guests for consumption on the premises. 

Limited Retail Distribution License (Class E): 

This is a limited version of the Class D license, typically issued to supermarkets, grocery stores, and convenience stores, allowing the sale of alcohol in original containers for off-premises consumption. 

Broad C License: 

This license permits the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption, usually at a sports or entertainment venue, stadium, or arena. 

Special Event Permit: 

A temporary permit allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages at special events, festivals, or gatherings for a limited duration. 

Brewery License: 

This license is for the production and sale of malt alcoholic beverages, often with specific permissions for on-site consumption, tours, and sales for off-premises consumption. 

Winery License: 

Similar to the brewery license, this allows for the production and sale of wine, often with specific permissions for tastings and sales for off-premises consumption. 

Distillery License: 

A license for the production and sale of distilled spirits, often with permissions for tastings and sales on-site. 

Location Research

Determine the specific municipality where you intend to operate and ascertain the availability of liquor licenses in that area. 

Business Plan

Develop a detailed business plan outlining your concept, target market, business structure, and operational details. This plan is vital for your application. 

  1. Eligibility and Restrictions: 

Ensure you meet all the eligibility requirements set by the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board in NJ. These requirements may vary based on the type of license you’re applying for and the municipality where you intend to operate. 

Background Checks

Expect thorough background checks for all principals and individuals associated with the business. Criminal history, financial standing, and other factors will be assessed 

Research Local Regulations

Familiarize yourself with the local regulations and restrictions in the specific municipality where you plan to establish your business. Each municipality may have its own rules regarding the issuance of liquor licenses. 

Application Process

Submit a completed application to the NJ Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). The application process includes thorough background checks, financial disclosures, and public notice requirements 

Application Preparation: 

Download Application Forms: Obtain the relevant application forms from the New Jersey ABC website or office. 

Complete Application: Fill out the application forms accurately and completely, providing all necessary supporting documents and information as requested. 

Pay Application Fees: Submit the required application fees along with your application. 

Submit to ABC: Submit your completed application and all necessary documents to the New Jersey ABC, ensuring all guidelines and instructions are followed. 

  1. Local Approval: 

Municipal Approval: Obtain approval from the local municipality where your business will operate. This may involve public hearings and consultations with local authorities. 

Public Notice: Fulfill any public notice requirements mandated by the municipality, such as newspaper publications or public postings. 

Obtaining the License

Approval Notification: Once approved, you will receive a notification from the ABC. 

Pay License Fees: Pay the applicable license fees within the specified timeframe to finalize the process. 

License Issuance: Once all requirements are satisfied and fees are paid, the ABC will issue your liquor license. 

Compliance and Operation

Adhere to Regulations: Ensure compliance with all state and local laws, regulations, and conditions outlined in your liquor license. 

Record Keeping: Maintain accurate records related to alcohol sales, purchases, and other relevant business operations. 

Renewal and Compliance: Renew your liquor license in a timely manner and continue to operate in compliance with all requirements to maintain your license. 

Liquor license acquisition in New Jersey is a complex process, and seeking guidance from legal advisors or consultants experienced in New Jersey alcohol laws is highly recommended to navigate the process effectively. Are you looking to add liquor to your NJ restaurant? Make sure you have a POS system like SpotOn to help you succeed. Contact us to get started today.