CA Liquor Licenses For Sale? What’s Up With That?

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 liquor 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.

And what about the ‘one notable exception’ mentioned above? It’s this: each September the CA ABC conducts a two week ‘priority drawing’, also known as the state liquor license lottery. This is the only exception to purchasing a liquor license on the open market and it’s only available if certain conditions apply. You can find out more about the requirements by calling the CA Alcoholic Beverage Control or brokers who handle these matters such as The American Liquor License Exchange,

The first business project is getting a liquor license This will allow your establishment to make good money & bring in many more people. Be certain to use a reputable company to help with completing the paperwork for your liquor license and making sure you will not have problems


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