Different Ways to Skin a Cat: The Ways to Get Your Liquor License

In our last article we defined the different types of liquor license types for different establishments, and to review it go to this link.  In this article, we begin to explain the different ways of getting your liquor license and the spaghetti bowl processes associated with each.

Get it from Someone Else

The easiest and quickest way to getting the liquor license for your concept, barring a change of use permit, is to buy it from the previous owner. For example, you’re buying a family-owned cantina style restaurant and going to continue business as a bar and grill. You can buy your license for your location from the previous owner and put it in your name. From there the state and local processes are cut down a bit. They will still need to verify basic information: background check on you, consult census data for the area, and ensure nothing really is being changed about the establishment. That can take as little as 6 months in some cases. As always, however, don’t count on a short 6-month timeline as curveballs may be thrown. Additionally, you should ALWAYS get an entitlements solutions firm on your team.

Apply For It From Scratch

If you are doing ground-up construction, applied for a change of use permit, or don’t have a license in your name already, you will have to apply for the correct liquor license type for your establishment and go through the process. In the next few articles, we will dive into the different processes more, in this article we will provide a snapshot to you.

  1. Apply with the California Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) for your license type. There are different types of licenses (see insert link) as well as different application forms. For certain establishments in certain counties, and depending on the number of available licenses you may be eligible for priority applications. These are not for retail liquor licenses. Retail liquor licenses have a different application process. You will have to submit your application in person or by mail within a specific timeframe.
  2. While your application is getting routed through the state process you need to apply with your local jurisdiction. This can be the county and city. Depending on where your establishment lies on the map. Be prepared to go through an extensive examination of your site as well as yourself. Background checks, credit checks, the crime in the local neighborhood, the number of incidents in the area, the number of bathrooms your establishment has, are just some of the questions that will be asked.
  3. Normally, off-the-record the process is then to consult with the local neighborhood council and get on their agenda. Speak with council members that are involved with the district and partner with them on your project. They can help during the meeting to discuss why your project is a good fit for the neighborhood.
  4. Meet with the council. Rally the neighborhood around your project. Detail the revenue, the jobs, and all the good your restaurant will do. Also, compromise with the neighborhood. Show them you want to fit in not take over.
  5. Be patient! This will take time, additional forms will pop up as required, there will be fees, fees, and more fees. Be calm, composed, and ready.
  6. Get your license!

We’d also like to note you are able to apply for construction permits outside of this entitlements piece, however, you will need to ensure you have drafted your plans to meet liquor license requirements.


In a nutshell, theese are the ways you may get a liquor license. This is very general information and for more details or answers to any questions, you can call us to set up a consultation at (310) 275-7774. Permit Advisors Inc can get specific and help guide you through to find the best solution. We don’t just work the process, we work for solutions.


About Us: Permit Advisors Inc is a nationwide permit expediting, entitlement, and consulting firm based out of Beverly Hills, CA. We have established relationships with municipalities nation-wide and implement time as well as cost-saving strategies to efficiently complete projects. We provide a project management team to ensure every aspect of the project is given specific attention while maintaining open communication between the jurisdiction, consultants, and our clients. We serve retailers, architects, landlords, tenant coordinators, contractors, and franchisees nationwide in the hotel, retail, restaurant, mixed-use, multifamily, entertainment, grocery, and logistical plant development industries. Contact us today for a consultation at www.permitadvisors.com.


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May 1, 2017 By admin