Liquor Licenses


Values of Liquor Licenses

The values of liquor licenses are fluid and set by market conditions at any given point in time. Massachusetts has a quota system for limiting the number of liquor licenses a Local Licensing Board can issue. (It is important to note that not all cities or towns participate in the quota system.) Under the quota system each city or town is given a finite number of licenses based on population and need. When a city or town has a license available they can be applied for with a simple administration fee. When the quota is filled or there are no longer licenses available at a given city or town, a Buyer will then need to go to the open market and purchase a license from an existing license holder at “market value.” That value is determined by supply and demand. Prices will vary dramatically depending on the type and location. Corbett can help facilitate the purchase or sale of these licenses.

Types of Liquor Licenses

There are both classifications of liquor licenses as well as categories plus a complexity of qualifications in Massachusetts. The most typical ones include:

On Premises – M.G.L. c 138, §12 (Commonly referred to as a “Pouring License”)
Use: Consumed on premise in Restaurants, Bars, Taverns, Nightclubs, etc.

Off Premises – M.G.L. c. 138 §15 (Commonly referred to as “Package Store License”)
Use: Consumed off premise used in Package stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, grocery stores, food stores, wine shops, etc.

All Alcoholic – (commonly referred to as “Full Liquor”)
Wine & Malt – (commonly referred to as “Beer & Wine”)
Wine, Malt & Cordials – (commonly referred to as “Beer, Wine & Cordial”)

Liquor License Acquisition Transfer Process

The following are the stages or steps in acquiring a liquor license: (One should seriously consider retaining a lawyer or consultant with experience in this field for guidance and counsel with this process)

Determine Type: Existing vs. a New license (if none are available with the city of town you need to purchase an existing one at a market rate)

Location: Review the site history, will the neighborhood accept, are there any local issues, is there a need.

Regulations & Quota: Are they over Quota, what are the seating requirements, check with local officials on approval process steps

Application: Checks, state agencies, paperwork

Local Board (LLA) Approval: Hearings, investigation, state agencies

ABCC Approval: Consideration, investigations, financing source, tax obligations

Issuance of License & Closing: After all levels of approvals are cleared license is issued.

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