Tagged: Alcoholic Beverage Control

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...

Retail Liquor License Renewals Now Due

All New Jersey retail liquor licenses for the 2015-2016 license term expire on June 30, 2016. All New Jersey retail liquor licensees should have received notification in April through the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s (ABC’s) web-based system, POSSE ABC, to renew their liquor licenses utilizing the ABC’s online portal. Subject to the specific renewal deadline fixed by each municipality, all state and municipal retail liquor license renewal fees for the 2016-2017 license term are currently due. Prior to renewal, all retail liquor licensees must also receive an Alcoholic Beverage Retail License Clearance Certificate for renewal from the Division of Taxation.

New Year’s Eve All Night Alcoholic Beverage Permit Application Deadline Approaching in New York

The New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) has announced on its webpage that the submission deadline for New Year’s Eve All Night Permit Applications is November 16, 2015. The SLA has outlined the criteria that will be considered in deciding whether to issue such permits. They include: timely filing of the application; licensee’s disciplinary history (including any pending charges); and whether, given the nature of the event, the licensee has adequate facilities and security plans in place.

Untapped Potential in New Jersey’s Nascent Craft Beer Industry

Two years ago, New Jersey lawmakers revised an archaic law that had been a major obstacle to anyone who wanted to launch a start-up brewery in the state. New Jersey’s old law severely restricted craft brewers’ ability to actually sell their beer to visitors of the brewery, thus undermining the economics of on-site bars or tap rooms, which most small operations in other states rely on as an important revenue source, especially in the early stages. The old law even limited how many free samples a brewer could hand out, which proved particularly troublesome for entrepreneurs trying to gain brand recognition and market share, and appeal to consumers’ varied tastes. The new law was intended to put brewpubs, microbreweries and so-called “nanobreweries” on an equal footing with competitors in neighboring states. While this legislation was a welcome step for the craft beer industry, more can be done.

“Operation Swill”: New Jersey ABC and Division of Criminal Justice Raid 29 Bars and Restaurants That Allegedly Served Cheap Alcohol as “Premium” Brands

On May 23, 2013, New Jersey’s Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa and Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“ABC”) Director Michael Halfacre announced the details of “Operation Swill,” a year-long investigation involving more than 100 investigators throughout New Jersey. Operation Swill reached its climax one day earlier when ABC and Division of Criminal Justice personnel executed raids on 29 establishments throughout New Jersey suspected of substituting premium alcoholic beverage brands with “well brand spirits,” i.e., non-premium brands. N.J.A.C. § 13:2-23.19 prohibits a licensee from substituting another brand other than ordered by a customer unless agreed to by the customer. Approximately 1,000 bottles were seized during the raids, which will be held for further testing by the ABC and manufacturers.

New Law Generates Buzz Among South Jersey’s Wine Growers

On May 1, 2012, a law took effect that will allow New Jersey farmers and wineries to skip wholesalers and sell directly to retailers and consumers. The new law grants similar rights to out-of-state wineries and finally cleared the way for the Garden State to begin issuing new winery licenses to growers. While local business and political leaders are hoping the relaxed regulations will encourage further investment in the state’s wine industry, producers, retailers, and wine lovers alike are cheering the increased access to locally-grown wines ahead of the summer tourism season.