The first consideration in applying for an alcohol license in Massachusetts is to find-out if one is available. This may seem obvious but there are many factors to determine this. First, can the license be purchased from the city or town where it is located? The number of licenses available is determined by a quota system. The second question is what type of license is being sought? The availability of a license is determined in part by the type of license. Is it for a restaurant, club, hotel, package store, or other type of business? Is it a beer and wine license, or an all-alcohol license?
If a license is unavailable from the city or town, then the applicant will have to purchase a license from a private party. The price will be based on the law of supply and demand. Licenses purchased from a private party are usually more expensive than those from a municipality.
Once the application is made, detailed financial and personal disclosures are required. Residence and citizenship matter.
The application also asks about how much experience the applicant has in the alcohol beverages industry and dealing with the public. Training is important. The city or town selectmen may want to know whether the manager and employees are TIPS certified, for instance.
If the license application is approved by the city or town, then the application will be forwarded to the Alcohol Beverages Control Commission (ABCC). The ABCC regulates all of the cities and towns in Massachusetts and gives final approval to the application. The ABCC is not a rubber stamp, however, and sometimes disapproves of the actions of the cities or towns. The ABCC may send the application back for more information or modification, or may deny the application outright.
The process to obtain an alcohol license in Massachusetts is rigorous. Many applications are denied or delayed because of missteps made along the way. Even after a license has been approved, the holder of the license has to be careful about serving the public. The failure to properly check identification, for instance, can lead to the suspension or revocation of a license. This may result in legal proceedings with the city or town or with the ABCC.
Experienced legal counsel is necessary to avoid these traps. I have many years of experience representing clients before municipal boards, the ABCC and the courts.
If you would like more information, call our office to discuss this, or to schedule a consultation.