As the liquor industry grows, so does legal assistance

Did you know that the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) will not issue liquor licenses or liquor licenses until construction of a new facility is complete? George Landrum is aware of this rule. Since he wants to open Covington Beer Garden in September, he started his liquor license application early to have everything filed with Covington City Hall and the ATC once construction is complete on August 31, before the site inspection.

“My best advice for any business owner looking for a liquor license for new construction is to take the time to understand all the state rules and the process early on, then work closely with the ATC, your town hall and an attorney who can advise you through any issues in the process,” said Landrum, who will open the 14,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor beer garden in downtown Covington. beer garden will offer a range of beers, cocktails, frozen drinks and will partner with Bootleggers to serve food.

A lawyer came in handy, Landrum said, when he decided to apply for a restaurant or bar. The Louisiana ATC announces five options for on-site alcohol applications – restaurant, bar, conditional restaurant, microbrewery and microdistillery. There are two offsite liquor apps – Package Store (Class B) and Package Liquor Store (Class C). To qualify for a restaurant license, a business’s average monthly revenue from food and non-alcoholic beverages must exceed 50% of its total average monthly revenue from the sale of food, non-alcoholic beverages and beverages alcoholic.

“We filed a restaurant application; our business intentions have qualified, allowing us to open to under 18s throughout our hours of operation,” Landrum said. “It helped to have a lawyer to advise us.”

Marshall Hevron, a partner in the New Orleans office of Adams and Reese and a member of the firm’s alcohol and hospitality practice, said licensing classification issues like Landrum’s can be better addressed. by a lawyer.

“Compared to 10 to 15 years ago, many unique businesses are selling alcohol with the increase in the number of breweries, distilleries, wineries, bars and restaurants that need to properly rank,” did he declare. “An attorney can answer licensing process questions related to classification, guide business owners through the process, and also help them fully comply with government regulations.”

Follow the process and zoning issues

Knowing the requirements of city, parish and state applications for obtaining liquor licenses is essential for any potential business owner, said David Halpern, partner of Kean Miller and leading attorney in the practice of reception and entertainment of the cabinet.

“There are a lot of moving parts, so the last thing you want is for your business to be delayed because a step to getting your liquor license wasn’t done correctly,” he said. he declares.

The first step for any new business owner, Halpern said, is to work with city planning officials on specific land use, zoning and ordinance allocations.

“There are properties throughout the city of New Orleans that require traditional use in a way that fits the vision of this neighborhood,” Halpern said. “The first thing any potential new business owner looking for a liquor license should do, before seeking city approval, is reach out to the community and offer the opportunity to ‘a neighborhood review through the Neighborhood Engagement Program.’

Other initial steps include choosing a business structure, reserving a business name, obtaining a federal tax ID, registering the business with the state, obtaining a Louisiana tax account and submitting a Notice of Intent poster application. The Louisiana ATC Office requires new on-site applicants to announce their intent in a local newspaper, provide business information and fingerprint cards. Once all license and permit fees have been paid and the license has been received, Alcoholic Beverage Operator (ABO) cards must be obtained for employees selling alcohol.

“Describing the correct nature of your business and the physical occupancy of the building is critical to the application process,” Hevron said, adding that applicants must properly disclose ownership interests so ATC can determine suitability through criminal background checks.

Local brewers and distilleries develop law firms’ alcohol practices

The rise of breweries and distilleries continued nationwide, resulting in more work for the law firms representing these clients regarding licensing, distribution, marketing, production amounts and taxes. In 2003, the Liquor and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau issued 50 distilled spirits permits. Today, there are 2,290 American distilleries, according to the American Craft Spirits Association.

The number of craft breweries in operation hit an all-time high of 9,118 in 2021. Dollar craft retail sales grew 21% to $26.8 billion and now account for 27% of the U.S. craft brewing market. $100 billion beer, according to the Brewers Association, representing America’s craft brewers.

“The growth of breweries shows the continued demand for their businesses and their beers,” said Marc Sorini, general counsel for the Brewers Association. “We found that consumers tended to be more adventurous, drinking a wider variety of products, including a desire to try local homebrew options, which helped brands move from unknowns relatively quickly. known in the market.”

In May, recognizing the boom in the burgeoning hospitality industry, Adams and Reese launched a dedicated alcohol and hospitality team with the additions of nationally recognized alcohol attorneys Rob Pinson and Will Cheek, based in the firm’s office in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2014, Pinson helped found the Tennessee Distillers Guild, after a 2009 law opened up distilling statewide, and Cheek helped found the Alliance of Alcohol Industry Attorneys & Consultants.

With the launch of the National Practice Area, Adams and Reese are ready to help hospitality customers understand state-by-state requirements and rules for liquor licenses and conditions.

“For example, in South Carolina, a manufacturer or supplier can have an interest in retail establishments, whereas in Tennessee or Louisiana, that’s generally prohibited,” Pinson said. “Also, distance restrictions to places like churches and schools may even vary from city to city, let alone state to state, and it’s important to be aware of these differences when taking a stake in various locations.”

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