A Variable in your Business Plan: The Liquor License Cost

Liquor Vs Liqueur: What's the Difference? - A1 Wine & SpiritWhen starting a business, any kind of business, there are certain criteria that should be adequately respected. If you are planning to start a business that sells or distributes liquor beverages, then there is quite the paperwork. Indeed, running a bar or restaurant might not be that simple to accomplish liquor
. For this reason, before getting too excited about the entire thing, you might want to appropriately analyze exactly what is needed to start a business of this kind. Probably, the most important aspect you will have to take care is obtaining the liquor license. The process itself is not at all difficult, but it can have its secrets. Therefore, before planning how you will name the establishment or how the menu is going to look, you might want to read a few things about what a liquor license actually means.

First of all, it is relevant to mention that this particular document is what gives you the right to sell liquor beverages. There are several criteria that have to be met in order to obtain such a document and these are constantly changing. There are no clear, fixed details that an entrepreneur has to fulfill in order to have a liquor license. If you will decide to collaborate with a dedicated, trustworthy agency that helps business owners obtain such a document, you will find out all there is about the criteria that you have to accomplish. Secondly, the liquor license cost might turn out to be a surprise. Indeed, this is an issue that keeps on changing and you have to be prepared about what the agency will tell you. Surely, one of your first questions will be how much is a liquor license. The answer is based on the aspects that make the cost of this document a variable in your business plan. Some establishments pay less for a license than others. This is because the documents might not be the same. Here is what an agency will most likely ask the entrepreneur before requesting the license. Of course, as you might have imagined, the type of the liquor license is what matters most when making the price.

When requesting such a license, you will have to give relevant details regarding the business you are planning to start. For instance, there is a completely different fee for a license destined for shops that sell liquor as opposed to restaurants or motels. You can imagine that the demands for a license of this kind are various, thus the difference in price. Of course, the length of time on which a license is valid could also be the reason for the difference in cost. Temporary liquor licenses are often cheaper than those that are valid for a longer period of time. There may be other details that could be the reason for the cost difference between liquor licenses. Still, you can only find out the real price by asking a dedicated agency that has gone through this process many, many times before. The staff working here will surely be able to clarify all your questions and provide you with relevant details about the needed documents to obtain a license. One question that we frequently hear from our California clients is, “Why can’t I just get a liquor license directly from the state? ” In some cases the answer is, you can, but for those who wish to sell a full line of alcoholic beverages it’s not so simple. The reason is that in California full liquor licenses are considered ‘quota’ or ‘grandfathered’ licenses and, with one notable exception, must be purchased from a private seller. And this means that the value of such licenses vary from county to county and is based, like real estate, on supply and demand.

Liquor licenses are considered personal property and can be traded, sold or given to others with the proviso that the state reserves the right to deny unqualified persons the privilege of being licensed. So again, applying for a liquor license does not guarantee an automatic approval. The review process is designed in large part to protect communities, as much as possible, from unscrupulous operators. While the stringent review procedure, which is a vestige from the days of Prohibition, is cumbersome and time consuming, in many ways this old fashioned approach is still useful as a deterrent.

So assuming you get past the regulators, the next question we hear a lot is, “What is the cost of a liquor license in California? “, and the answer is, it varies. Each of California’s 58 counties has it’s own pricing for both the type 21 off sale license (liquor store or supermarket) as well as the on sale general type 47 (restaurant). In addition, prices vary according to market availability so they do not remain static. The best approach, once you’ve decided to apply for a liquor license, is to give yourself a minimum of 90 days ( and ideally 180 days), and begin your search and negotiation for the type of license you need in your county. By giving yourself this much lead time, you’re as sure as you can be that your Grand Opening will include sales of alcohol.

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