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How to Buy a Liquor License in New Jersey?

New Jersey Liquor License Transfer Attorney

Obtaining a liquor license is not easy task. Due to municipal population caps, liquor licenses are incredibly valuable in New Jersey. Since 1948, new retail consumption (bar/restaurant) and distribution licenses (liquor store) may only be issued in a municipality whose population exceeds certain limits. Specifically, for every 3,000 persons a town can issue one consumption license, and for every 7,500 persons it may issue one distribution license. For those municipalities who had already issued licenses that would fail to exceed these caps, the licenses were allowed to continue under a grandfather clause.

Due to these population caps, new licenses are rarely issued, and if they are, it is typically limited to growing municipalities. As a result of the relatively few new licenses being issued, most persons obtain a license by purchasing an existing license and having it transferred to the purchaser by filing a “person-to-person” transfer application with the local issuing authority. Moreover, with the restaurant renaissance currently taking place in New Jersey, liquor licenses offer municipalities significant economic stability.

For representation in your liquor license purchase or sale, call the ABC liquor license attorneys at (732) 858-5857.

How Can I Buy a Liquor License in NJ?

A liquor license is not always tied to a piece of property. This means that you may buy a license but not buy any real estate (though the license is considered property). When negotiating a purchase price for a license, you must take into consideration whether or not real property is also being sold, the violation history of the license, restrictions on the license under municipal resolution and credit issues with wholesalers, just to name a few. If an agreement is put in place, you, as the buyer, are not entitled utilize the license unless and until it is transferred to you or your business entity by formal action of the local issuing authority.

Liquor License Transfer Application

Any proposed transfer must be approved by the local governing council or ABC Board. The municipality will conduct a background investigation through the local police department and determine whether or not to approve the transfer. This process can be easily complicated by the disqualification or financial instability of the buyer.  Moreover, the issuing authority is under the legal obligation to ensure that the purchaser is not disqualified to hold a license, is reputable and will operate in a reputable manner, that the transfer does not violate any State laws, regulations, local ordinances or conditions, and that the licensee has disclosed and the issuing authority has determined that all funds used to purchase the licensed business came from legitimate sources. If the municipal board either rejects or fails to act on the transfer, you have a right to appeal this decision directly to the Director of the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

What are the Requirements to Own a Liquor License in NJ?

Under N.J.A.C. 13:2-9.2, each holder of an alcoholic beverage license, and each owner thereof, must continually meet the following qualifications:

  1. At least 18 years of age;
  2. Has not been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, unless the Director has removed said disqualification;
  3. Is not a law enforcement officer, peace officer or any other person whose powers or duties include the enforcement of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act;
  4. Does not have an interest in any manufacturer or wholesaler of alcoholic beverages and is not employed as a solicitor, is a Class C license;
  5. Has not had an interest in any alcoholic beverage license or permit which has been revoked within the past two (2) years;
  6. Does not have an interest in more than two (2) retail licenses if a Class C license or an interest in any retail license if a Class A or Class B license, unless covered by an exception; and
  7. Is a Corporation, Partnership, or other legal entity in good standing, if the license is other than an individual.

New Jersey Liquor License Lawyers

For assistance in obtaining an New Jersey liquor license, call (732) 858-5857 today and speak with an attorney.

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