Frequently Asked Questions Part One – California Liquor Licenses

These are some of the most frequently asked questions by those looking to obtain a liquor license in California.

Q. What is an alcoholic beverage license?

A. A license issued under the Act is a permit to do that which would otherwise be unlawful. A license is not a right, but is a privilege, which can be suspended or revoked by administrative action because of violation of the Act or departmental rule.

 

Q. What are the types of retail licenses?

A. On-Sale General-authorizes the sale of all types of alcoholic beverages: namely, beer, wine and distilled spirits, for consumption on the premises, and the sale of beer and wine for consumption off the premises.

Off-Sale General-authorizes the sale of all types of alcoholic beverages for consumption off the premises in original, sealed containers.

On-Sale Beer and Wine-authorizes the sale of all types of wine and malt beverages (e.g., beer, porter, ale, stout and malt liquor) for consumption on and off the premises.

Off-Sale Beer and Wine-authorizes the sale of all types of wine and malt beverages for consumption off the premises in original, sealed containers.

On-Sale Beer-authorizes the sale of malt beverages for consumption on and off the premises.

 

Q. What is a “bona fide public eating place”?

A. Licensed premises that are maintained in good faith and used for the regular service of meals to patrons. The premises must have suitable kitchen facilities and supply an assortment of foods commonly ordered at various hours of the day.

 

Q. May a person who holds a license for a bona fide public eating place lease out the food concession?

A. Yes. Upon notification to ABC, such a licensee may sublet the sale and service of meals. The licensee shall continue to be responsible for any violations caused or permitted by the food lessee on the licensed premises. The licensee shall not sublet to a person who does not have the qualifications of a 1icensee.

 

Q. What is meant by “public premises”?

A. No person under 21 years of age is allowed on public premises.

There are two classes of public premises:

As to on-sale general and on-sale beer and wine licenses, this means premises maintained and operated for the sale and service of alcoholic beverages to the public for consumption on the premises, and in which food is not sold or served to the public as in a bona fide eating place, although food products may be sold or served incidentally to the sale or service of alcoholic beverages.

As to on-sale beer licenses, this means premises maintained and operated for sale or service of beer to the public for consumption on the premises, and in which no food is sold or served. An on-sale beer licensed premises on which food (sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, tacos, salads or similar short orders) is prepared and sold for consumption on the premises is not an on-sale beer public premises.

 

Q. What beverages may the holder of an on-sale license sell for consumption off the licensed premises in original, sealed containers?

A.  Unless restricted by special license conditions, on-sale general and on-sale beer and wine licensees may sell all types of wine and malt beverages.  Unless restricted by special license conditions, on-sale beer licensees may sell malt beverages. The privilege of selling distilled spirits “to go” comes only with an off-sale general license.

 

Q. Can any person obtain an alcoholic beverage license?

A. California’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC www.abc.ca.gov/) may refuse to issue a license to any person who has violated the ACT, has a disqualifying criminal record, or is otherwise disqualified.

 

Q. When is a duplicate license required?

A. An on-sale general licensee who maintains on his/her licensed premises more than one room in which a fixed counter or service bar is regularly maintained and at which distilled spirits are served to the public must apply for a duplicate license and pay a full annual fee for each such license. A duplicate license is not transferable by itself.

 

Q. When a license certificate is lost or destroyed, how may the licensee obtain a replacement?

A. Application must be made to ABC for a replacement license, and a fee of $5.50 paid for each one.

 

Q. May ABC deny the renewal of an existing license?

A. Yes, if the licensee has not paid an annual license fee. Otherwise, every license now in effect (other than temporary retail permits and special daily licenses) is renewable unless such license has been revoked after hearing on an accusation.

 

Watch our next blog for Frequently Ask Questions, Part Two!  For more information, please visit www.abc.ca.gov/.

 

 

 

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