Liquor Licensing and Restaurant Law
We provide representation to restaurants, bars, liquor stores and social clubs in the following areas:
- Business formation and permitting
- Purchasing a liquor license from an existing license holder or obtaining a liquor license directly from a city or town
- Transferring or selling a liquor license
- Amending liquor licenses and maintaining compliance with licensing laws
- Appearing on behalf of licensees at violation hearings and appeals
- Defending businesses and individuals against liquor liability, social host and/or dram shop lawsuits filed against them
The Liquor License Process in Massachusetts
Whether opening a new business or buying an existing establishment, the liquor license acquisition process in Massachusetts is controlled at two levels. First, the prospective license holder must apply directly to the town or municipality where the license is located. Once the application is received, a hearing is usually scheduled before the local licensing board. Assuming license is granted following the hearing, the application is then forwarded to the state's Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC). The ABCC assigns an investigator to review the application, conduct background checks and recommend final approval of the license. The overall process typically takes about two to three months.
Are Liquor Licenses Available?
Many cities and towns in Massachusetts limit the number of liquor licenses that are issued to restaurants, bars and package stores. As a result, the cost of acquiring a license can be quite expensive depending upon the locale. For example, the current market value of a full on-premises transferable liquor license in the City of Boston is approximately $400,000. However, some cities and towns have a quantity of non-transferable liquor licenses that can be acquired for a reasonable annual fee. Either way, there are liquor license brokers that we can refer you to if you are interested in learning about license availability and/or restaurants that are for sale.