Wanting to open a restaurant, bar, brewery or other establishment that serves or distributes alcohol may have been a goal of yours for some time. You may have taken other necessary business-related steps already, and now, the time has come to obtain your liquor license. You may think that this process will be similar to obtaining any license, but it is important to keep in mind that California has specific requirements for applying for and obtaining this license.

Before you submit an application for a license, you will need to visit the nearest Alcoholic Beverage Control District Office. Here, you will speak with a member of staff who will work to obtain information about your establishment and help determine the type of license you would need. Depending on the details of your specific situation, you may need to obtain zoning approval or other permissions before obtaining a liquor license.

Filing an application

When filing an application, it may come as a surprise to learn that you have a bit more work cut out for you than simply filling out a form and handing it to the correct person. You will also need to provide the ABC with any information the agency needs to investigate the premises — and you, as the owner — to determine whether you qualify for a license, and you will need to post a Public Notice of Application at the premises of your establishment for 30 days.

While that may seem easy enough, the responsibilities may not stop there. The ABC may also require you to put a notice in the local newspaper, obtain proof that the local planning department allows an ABC license in the zoning area or mail a notice to everyone living within 500 feet of the establishment of your intentions to obtain a license.

More notifications and investigation

The ABC will also provide notification of your application to local officials, which could include the city council, police department and city planning department if within city limits. For county limits, the board of supervisors, district attorney and sheriff’s department could obtain a copy of the application. This notification allows these officials the opportunity to request restrictions of the operations of your business or protest the approval of your license if they have concerns.

The ABC will also investigate to ensure that you followed the proper steps in applying for your license and that you and your premises are suitable for a license. If any issues arise, you could face a denial or delay in approval.

Taking the right steps

Missing information, improper forms or various other mistakes could also delay your application process. As a result, you will want to ensure that you follow every step exactly. Fortunately, an attorney experienced in helping business owners obtain ABC licenses could assist you throughout the application process and beyond.