Restaurant Law Blog

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Common Misconceptions about Your Liquor License: The Truth About BYOB, Open Bars, Bottomless Brunches, and License Transfers

Can I allow customers to “BYOB” while my liquor license application is pending?

NO! Restaurants and bars may not allow customers to “BYOB” (Bring Your Own Bottle) while a license is pending. Although we have all seen establishments advertise that they are “BYOB,” doing so without a license is not legal in New York State and puts you at risk of getting your pending (or future) license application denied by the State Liquor Authority. Establishments that want to allow customers to BYOB must apply to the State Liquor Authority for a “bottle club license.”

Can my establishment host an open bar? Can we serve “bottomless brunches”?


NO! The Alcoholic Beverage and Control Law prohibits open bars. Specifically, the law does not allow patrons to pay a fixed price for an unlimited number of drinks during a set time. For this same reason, “bottomless brunches” where patrons can pay for a brunch meal with unlimited mimosa, bloody marys, etc. is illegal.  The State Liquor Authority does allow, however, “2 for 1” drinks and other similar drink specials as long as the price of a drink is not lower than ½ of the premise’s regular drink price.

I am buying a restaurant that already has a liquor license. Can the seller transfer the liquor license to me?


NO! In New York, there is no such thing as “transferring” a liquor license; licenses cannot simply be sold or passed on to a new owner. The State Liquor Authority only uses the term “transfer” to identify an application for an establishment that is currently licensed and selling their business versus a “new” establishment that is not currently licensed. Regardless of whether your application is a “transfer” or “new”, the process is essentially the same.

However, if you are purchasing an existing business that has a liquor license, you may apply for a Temporary Retail Permit, which allows the new owner to serve alcohol while their application for a permanent license is pending. To qualify for a temporary permit, the establishment must have been open at least 30 days prior to the filing of the application. The permit is valid for 90 days and may be renewed. Just because the State Liquor Authority grants you a Temporary Permit does not mean you will be approved for a permanent license.

To have us answer questions about your liquor license, contact DiPasquale Law Group for a free consultation.



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