Category: Liquor Licensing

Reminder to Alcoholic Beverage Licensees: Annual TTB Filing Due July 1

Businesses that sell or serve alcoholic beverages, such as liquor stores, grocery stores, bars, and restaurants, not only must obtain the appropriate retail license within the jurisdictions in which they operate, but are also subject to Alcohol Dealer Registration with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”) within the U.S. Department of the Treasury. This often overlooked registration requirement must be satisfied prior to commencement of alcoholic beverage sales, and any changes in the ownership of the business, business locations, and certain other information must be disclosed annually in a filing that is due July 1. The registration requirement arises from Title 26 of the United States Code (specifically, Subtitle E, Chapter 51 of the Internal Revenue Code) and applies to any “dealer,” which is defined in 27 CFR § 31.1 as “[a]ny person who sells, or offers for sale, any distilled spirits, wines, or beer.” Thus, retail dealers include liquor stores, restaurants, bars, private clubs, fraternal organizations, grocery stores, supermarkets, hotels, sports stadiums, caterers, trains, aircraft, and vessels. Wholesalers and importers are also included within the definition of “dealer.” Subject to certain exceptions, both retail dealers and wholesale dealers must comply with the applicable registration requirements. Registration entails filing TTB Form 5630.5d before engaging in business and on or before July 1...

NJABC Extends Time Period for COVID-19 Expansion Permit

On October 19, 2020, the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“Division”) issued a new special ruling (the “October Special Ruling”) that allows the currently issued COVID-19 Expansion of Premises Permit (“COVID-19 Expansion Permit”) to be extended to March 31, 2021. We previously discussed the Division’s special ruling issued on June 3, 2020 (the “June Special Ruling”) that coincided with Governor Murphy’s Executive Order No. 150, which allowed licensees or permittees with on-premises retail consumption privileges to reopen and serve patrons in “outdoor areas.” The COVID-19 Expansion Permit established through the June Special Ruling allowed licensees and permittees to expand their licensed premises into outdoor areas, either contiguous or non-contiguous to their permanently licensed premises. Applications for an extension of the COVID-19 Expansion Permit will be available later this month and must be submitted no later than November 23, 2020. The June Special Ruling originally set the expiration of the COVID-19 Expansion Permit as November 30, 2020. However, due to the continuing effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the alcoholic beverage industry, and the continued requirements for indoor capacity limits and social distancing, the Division found it appropriate to allow licensees to apply to renew the COVID-19 Expansion Permits. The Division noted that, to date, it has issued more than 2,300 COVID-19 Expansion Permits....

Issues for NJ and NY Retailers and Food and Beverage Establishments to Consider Upon Reopening for Outdoor Sales and Service

On June 3, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 150 (the “Order”), which permitted, effective June 15, 2020, restaurants and other food and beverage establishments to offer on-site outdoor service. The Order also allowed municipalities to make outdoor shared spaces, such as sidewalks and streets, available to these establishments. Previously, these establishments had been limited to offering take-out services as a result of executive orders issued in response to the ongoing COVID-19 health emergency. Simultaneous with the issuance of the Order, the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (NJABC) issued a special ruling to create a COVID-19 Expansion of Premises Permit (the “Special Ruling”). We discussed the special ruling here. Similarly, the State of New York – on a region-by-region basis – is entering Phase 2 of its reopening plan in response to the COVID-19 health emergency, and the New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) issued guidance to permit liquor licensees with on-premises service to resume outdoor, on-premises service of alcoholic beverages and food. We discussed the guidance here. In sum, both states have taken significant steps to provide relief to business establishments that have been hurt by the COVID-19 health emergency. These measures allow establishments to return to some semblance of normal operations. There are, however, still many unanswered...

New York State Liquor Authority Issues Guidance on Outdoor Expansion of Licensed Premises for Phase 2 Reopening

On June 4, 2020, the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) issued guidance to licensees in regions of the state of New York that have entered Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan in response to the COVID-19 health emergency (“SLA Guidance”). The SLA Guidance applies to licensees that possess on-premises service privileges under New York’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Law (“ABC Law”), and it permits these licensees to resume outdoor, on-premises service of alcoholic beverages and food. The SLA Guidance, summarized below, shall remain in effect until July 6, 2020 and may be extended or reduced depending on the circumstances. It specifically provides guidance on how outdoor consumption shall be implemented and how licensees may expand the licensed premises into outdoor spaces, and it also includes a question and answer (Q&A) section that provides guidance to municipalities seeking to extend licensed premises. Outdoor Consumption The consumption of food and alcoholic beverages must occur in outdoor, open-air areas without fixed roofs, and patrons are required to be seated at tables, bars, counters, or similar contrivances. The Q&A section provides that a fixed roof is any overhead structure covering an outdoor seating area that would not reasonably be viewed as temporary. Awnings or covers that are temporary or seasonal are therefore permitted. Social distancing measures must be...

NJABC Issues Special Ruling Creating COVID-19 Expansion Permit and Provides Guidance on To-Go Cocktails

Earlier this month, the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“Division”) issued a special ruling to create temporary COVID-19 permits to expand licensed premises and an advisory notice regarding cocktails-to-go. These are summarized briefly below. Special Ruling Establishing Temporary COVID-19 Permit to Expand Licensed Premises This special ruling issued on June 3, 2020 establishes a COVID-19 Expansion of Premises Permit (“COVID-19 Expansion Permit”) to coincide with Executive Order No. 150, which allows licensees or permittees with on-premises retail consumption privileges to reopen and serve patrons in outdoor areas. The COVID-19 Expansion Permit allows the licensees and permittees to expand their licensed premises into outdoor areas, either contiguous or non-contiguous to their permanently licensed premises. All licensees and permittees with on-premises retail consumption privileges may apply for this permit, but no permit issued would be effective before June 15, 2020. The special ruling sets forth certain criteria that must be met for issuance of the COVID-19 Expansion Permit. In all cases, the licensee is required to demonstrate that it has a possessory interest and control over the expansion areas, and that it will exercise only the same privileges afforded to it on its existing licensed premises. For example, licensees that offer food service on their licensed premises must do so on the expanded premises. Any...

NJABC Issues Order Extending 2019-2020 License Term

The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (the “Division”) issued an order on April 13, 2020, extending the 2019-2020 license term for all municipally-issued and state-issued licenses until September 30, 2020. Under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (the “Act”), local governing bodies (known as local issuing authorities) have the authority to issue and renew retail licenses. These retail licenses are in effect for a one-year term, beginning on July 1 of each year. In certain instances, the licenses can also be extended by the Division through ad interim permits. The licenses for the 2019-2020 term were set to expire on June 30, 2020. The Division, rather than local issuing authorities, issues and renews wholesale and manufacturing licenses and associated permits, known as State-issued licenses, which have the same license term as retail licenses. These State-issued licenses include, but are not limited to, Plenary, Limited, and Restricted Brewery Licenses and Plenary, Limited, and Craft Distillery Licenses. Some associated State-issued permits include, but are not limited to, Special Concessionaire Permits, Sampling Permits, Consumer Tasting Permits, and Off-Premise Storage of Records Permits. These State-issued licenses and permits were similarly set to expire on June 30, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 crisis and its associated consequences, the Division found that many licensees will be unable to renew their licenses by...

NJABC Relaxes Additional Regulations in Response to COVID-19 Crisis

On April 7, 2020, we published a blog explaining the guidance and forms of relief recently provided by the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“Division”) to liquor license holders throughout the state. The issued guidance and relief pertain to operations of alcoholic beverage licensees and permittees during the state of emergency declared to address the COVID-19 crisis. Since that time, the Division has issued three new special rulings to address additional COVID-19 related issues. Each special ruling is summarized briefly below. Special Ruling Granting Relaxation of Signature Requirement, Product Returns, Credit, Notices of Obligation, and Bill and Hold This special ruling grants relaxation of several regulations promulgated under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (the “Act”), as well as under a previous special ruling. Signature on Invoices: To comply with social distancing protocols, the Division temporarily suspended the requirement that a licensee must sign and date a delivery slip, invoice, manifest, waybill, or similar document at the time of delivery of any alcoholic beverage by a licensed manufacturer, importer, or wholesaler. It sets forth acceptable alternative methods for signature, which includes methods like sending a contemporaneous email confirming receipt, photographing the invoice and confirming electronically with the wholesaler, or using the retailer’s own pen to acknowledge receipt. This modification runs through the period of...

Gibbons to Exhibit at Upcoming ICSC PA/NJ/DE Conference & Deal Making

The Gibbons Real Property Department will once again exhibit at the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) PA/NJ/DE Conference & Deal Making at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on September 12. Stop by our booth, #319, and meet with some of the Department’s attorneys who will be attending. Deal Making hours are Thursday, September 12, from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. The Conference provides an opportunity for real estate professionals (shopping center owners, developers, managers, marketing specialists, investors, lenders, retailers, etc.) to network and focus on getting deals done. We look forward to seeing you there!

NJABC Suspends New Limited Brewery Rules

Less than two weeks after issuing it, the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (NJABC) has suspended its Special Ruling that imposed new regulations on Limited Brewery Licensees. The Special Ruling released in late September included restrictions on, among other things, special events and entertainment at Limited Breweries. In its announcement, the NJABC stated that the suspension of the restrictions will provide the opportunity to engage in further conversations with craft breweries and other alcoholic beverage license holders about the impact of the Special Ruling. The NJABC is also poised to work with state legislators to determine whether new legislation is needed to update the law that prompted the Special Ruling.

NJABC Issues New Grand Opening Permit, Limited Brewery Rules

The New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (NJABC) has recently issued two notices to the regulated community – the first notice impacting all consumption licensees hosting a Grand Opening event (known as a “soft opening”) and the second impacting the operation of a Limited Brewery. Due to the highly regulated nature of alcoholic beverages and the recent announcement of these rules, licensees should be diligent in their compliance. The Grand Opening Permit authorizes an on-premise consumption licensee to sponsor a one-time private event on the licensed premises at its initial opening. With this permit, the NJABC recognizes that a new licensee may want to introduce itself to certain members of the community through a private event before its opening to the general public. The licensee must maintain a list of all individuals invited and when the invitation was accepted (no same-day invitations or “walk-up” invitees), and the list must be provided to the NJABC within ten days after the event. The licensee can offer an open bar at the event for no more than three hours (unless the permit authorizes differently), and the entire licensed premises must be closed to the public with clear and conspicuous signage that the premises is closed for a private event. The new regulations for Limited Brewery Licensees (those breweries with...