A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The ABCs of ABC Licensing

I got to wondering about liquor licenses today and a friend pointed me in the direction of Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Their website has a vast array of guides and forms for every conceivable situation. Want to have a wine festival? Or maybe just a wine seminar? They have application forms for these occasions. Want to make your own beer or wine? Forms for each. What if you're a liquor distributor and you want to let your customers taste the goods? Permit. And there's a separate application if you are an out-of-state supplier who wants to allow tastings. And if you sell liquor and want to store your records off premises, there's a form to fill out. Yikes!

I gravitated to the ABC Municipal Handbook. It has more than a few interesting items in it.  For example, did you realize ...
  • The upcoming census will play an important role in how many licenses can be issued? There is a cap on the number of licenses that can be issued to sell or distribute alcohol in a particular municipality. The town cannot issue a new retail consumption license until the total number of licenses is fewer than 1 for every 3,000 in population according to the previous census. Once the municipality can issue an additional license, it can call for bids or use a "traditional non-bidding method."
  • If you can get 15% of people who voted in the last election to sign a petition, you can arrange for a referendum to make Aberdeen a dry town? And if it passes, the town has to stay dry for at least five years.
  • If you arrange to sell your bar, you have to arrange separately to transfer the liquor license? But if the deal to sell the bar doesn't go through for some reason and you already transferred the license, you have to arrange separately to get the license back. There are fees for all of these transfers, of course. The municipality gets $200 every time you breathe, seems to me.
  • There's a special license for theaters and concert halls with capacities of 1,000 or more patrons. They can sell liquor during a performance and up to two hours before and after. Such a license doesn't count against your municipality's cap by population. The cap also doesn't apply to licenses held by hotels and motels with 100 or more guest sleeping rooms, nor must they count non-profit clubs that have been around at least three years and have 60 or more members. So the PNC Arts Center, Holiday Inn, and the VFW can have liquor licenses irrespective of census figures.
Maybe all this nonsense is why some restaurants go BYOB? Of course, BYOB has a lengthy entry in the handbook as well. Violate its rules and a restaurant owner is subject to disorderly conduct charges. You can be BYOB, but you can't advertise the fact. You can provide glasses, ice, etc, and uncork bottles, but you can't charge for these services. People can drink in your establishment but not during times when places with a valid license are restricted from selling liquor by local ordinance. And you can't make an arrangement with a distributor to deliver beer and wine to your BYOB restaurant as some sort of courtesy to your patrons.


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