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The acquisition of Drizly, an alcohol delivery service by Uber last month, is part of a broader trend in the food and alcohol industry to do more business on-line. Many brick and mortar businesses and entrepreneurs are trying to follow a similar template. To accomplish this successfully, they must comply with the Massachusetts alcohol licensing statute. Some of the requirements are:
- On-line delivery of alcohol must have a package store license. There has to be an actual store with an identifiable address that is connected to the on-line delivery. (A stand-alone delivery service without a physical location is prohibited.)
- The owner must be a citizen of the United States. If the owner or ownership group is a foreign corporation or limited liability corporation, at least one half of the directors must be US citizens. The manager must be a Massachusetts resident.
- If the food or alcohol is being brought into Massachusetts from another state or foreign country, the business has to complete an application with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) for approval. The Department of Homeland Security and Import/Export Administration may also get involved in any goods imported into the United States.
- The city or town where the business is located may have an interest in the business to make sure that it is in the “public interest.” Support by the community is helpful. The application will require approval of the city or town. Then final approval will be required by the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission (ABCC) which regulates all of the cities and towns licensing in the state.
- The application for an alcohol license seeks disclosure of financial statements, experience in the industry, description of business purpose and other matters.
Since there is a combination of federal, state and local entities that may have jurisdiction over the application for an alcohol delivery service, there are many traps for the unwary. If your business needs assistance in navigating the layers regulation, call my office for expert representation. We have successfully represented package stores, restaurants, bars, clubs and hotels.