How to Get a Liquor License in California
Opening and running a successful restaurant in California can be difficult; high rates of competition make for a high-pressure industry. In order to remain on top, restaurateurs must spend a great deal of time and money to help their establishment thrive. Serving alcohol in your restaurant is a crucial facet of profitability. Most restaurants find that a significant portion of their overall profit is due to revenue from alcohol sales. In California, getting a liquor license can be an expensive and time consuming process. If you’re looking to open a restaurant and need to secure the right alcohol permit, use this step-by-step guide to find the permits you need.
Understanding the ABC
There are various agencies in every state that regulate the liquor license process. In California, this agency is known as the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, known as the ABV. This agency became its own department within the Alcoholic Beverage Commission back in the 1950s, and today is the leading authority when it comes to issuing California alcohol permits. The ABC does more than issue liquor licenses; this department can deny, revoke, and suspend any existing alcohol permit. Every county in California has a set number of licenses available; once they’ve all been issued, that’s it. So what’s a budding restaurateur to do? Purchase a liquor license from a private buyer who holds a pre-issued license. The only problem with this? It’s a seller’s market, and prices can skyrocket.
Choosing the Right Liquor License
Finding a liquor license in California can be difficult, but availability depends on your location and the type of license you want. Any bona fide eating establishment must purchase either a Type 41 or Type 47 license. The Type 41 allows for the sale of beer and wine with food, while the Type 47 allows for the sale of beer, wine, and spirits. Type 47 tend to be much more costly, and can be especially hard to find in areas saturated with restaurants.
How Much Does a Liquor License Cost?
The cost of liquor licenses can run the gamut, and prices vary throughout the state. The type of license you’re looking for plays a large part in pricing. A Type 41 license is generally less expensive because it only permits the sale of beer and wine. Some restauranteurs choose to go this route and offer cocktails made with rice wine. Those who choose to pursue a Type 47 license often pay exorbitant prices. In some California counties, you may find a license for a few thousand dollars; in competitive metropolitan areas, restaurant owners are forced to spend close to a million dollars to get this in-demand license. Nailing down exactly which type of license you’re looking for will help you better budget and prepare for your purchase.
Where Can I Find a Liquor License?
When it comes to sourcing a liquor license, there are plenty of options. You can work through brokerage services that connect sellers and buyers, or go it alone and do it privately. If you have numerous connections throughout the restaurant industry, you may find the right permit quickly. In some cases, you can purchase a liquor license along with the purchase of a restaurant itself. If you are going into the restaurant industry with no previous experience, a brokerage service is bound to be your best bet. These professionals are generally able to procure better deals and expedite the transfer process. It’s also important to follow all legal regulations, and working with a service means an added layer of protection.
If you’re opening a restaurant in California and you hope to serve alcoholic beverages, you’ll need to purchase a California liquor license. Use this guide to find the license you need quickly, for the right price, and get started on your restaurant endeavor.