New York State has taken steps over the past month to modernize some of its practices and make it easier for restaurants and bars to do business.
- In December 2021, Governor Hochul signed a legislative package that allows the New York State Liquor Authority (the “SLA”) to issue temporary retail permits for bars and restaurants opening in New York City, as well as allowing new temporary manufacturing permits to be granted to New York wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries that are awaiting final approval on their manufacturing licenses.
- More recently, on January 26, 2022, the SLA released a Declaratory Ruling stating that movie theaters in New York State may apply for and obtain a beer and wine license so long as the sale of beer and wine is proven to be incidental to and not the prime source of revenue from the operation of the movie theatre.
- On January 20, 2022, the SLA released Advisory #2022-1 stating that it may now waive the requirement that a license applicant submits a copy of the Certificate of Occupancy (or similar document issued by the municipality when a Certificate of Occupancy has not been issued for the premises) with an application as long as the applicant submits the Certificate of Occupancy (or similar document) with its first renewal application. The applicant and the applicant’s representative must sign a waiver to this effect, and the license will not be renewed without the required submission. The waiver will apply to applications that have been conditionally approved, applications that are currently under review, and applications that have not yet been filed. Importantly, the application must still comply with local codes, including building, fire, health, zoning, etc.; as such, if a municipality’s local code requires a Certificate of Occupancy (or similar document) in order to open for business and operate an establishment, then the applicant must abide by such municipality’s requirement prior to opening and operating.
- And on January 5, 2022, Governor Hochul announced, in her 2022 State of the State Address, her intention to propose legislation that would permanently allow the sale of to-go liquor and wine by bars and restaurants.
The SLA has recently reminded licensees that, despite the fact that it is now legal for New Yorkers to place bets on sporting events through online services, it is still illegal for businesses licensed to sell alcoholic beverages (including restaurants and bars) to “suffer and permit gambling on the licensed premises.” According to a statement by the SLA, “The SLA will not be charging licensees if individuals are placing bets on their telephones with legally authorized sites while at the premises of a licensed retailer, but if licensees promote gambling that has taken place, or is to take place, at their premises in any way, or allow others to promote gambling that has taken place, or is to take place, at their premises, they will be violating the law and subject to charges.”