Hotel patrons are paying for a luxurious experience away from home and are expecting convenience at all times.  Part of this expected convenience is the ability to purchase alcohol at one or more locations on premises, including the hotel’s bar or restaurant, or in their own room.  Which brings me to my first, and most important point, you need to understand the limitations of your Hotel Liquor License (H License). 

You’ll need to know, among other things, the areas of the hotel that are considered to be part of the licensed premises and which are not, where you can serve alcohol on the premises, and whether you need a special permit to serve people at a particular event or in a particular location in or around the hotel property.  Additionally, you should be able to answer the following questions.  Do patrons have to remain on hotel property?  What if the hotel restaurant is not operated by the owner of the hotel – where can patrons take their drinks? 

It’s also important to know when you need to update your H License.  For instance, what happens if you make some renovations – should you update your license then?  You’ll likely need to since your H License relates to the specific floor plans for the hotel.

What about liability?  Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Act imposes liability on individuals and establishments that serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person who causes damage to other persons or property.  In some instances, the law could apply where an establishment violates the Liquor Code for some other reason, like serving alcohol after hours, and the person served causes damage to another person or property.  That establishment could not only be sued for monetary relief by the victims of the intoxicated person, but could also face criminal charges for the violation which led to the damage and/or injury.

If you’re looking to obtain an H License from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, the hotel must have, among other things, a minimum number of rooms unless it qualifies, applies, and is approved for an exemption.  The number of rooms required depends on the population of the municipality where the hotel is located.  Further, those rooms must meet certain other requirements, for example, each room must meet a square footage requirement, and a certain number of rooms must contain particular amenities.  However, if you can get your hands on a pre-September 1, 1949 H License, then your hotel would be “grandfathered in” and exempt from these room requirements.

For more information on Stark & Stark’s Beer & Spirits group, please click here.

For many, it’s not uncommon to grab a drink before or after (and maybe even during) a good round of golf.  In order to do this, the owner and/or operator of a golf course has to obtain a liquor license from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB).  Most likely, this license will be a Privately-Owned Private Golf Course Club Liquor License (PGC, GCC).  There are a number of requirements that a club applicant must meet before the PLCB will issue a license.  These requirements include, but are not limited to, an applicant for such a license “must be reputable groups of individuals associated together, not for profit, for the legitimate purposes of mutual benefit, entertainment, fellowship, or lawful convenience, having some primary interest and activity to which the sale of alcoholic beverages shall be secondary.  If incorporated, clubs must have been in continuous existence and operation for at least one year or, if unincorporated, for at least ten years immediately preceding the date of application for license. . . .”  The golf course must contain nine holes and a total length of at least 2,500 yards.  In addition, all licensees are required to appoint a manager for the operation of the licensed establishment.  The PLCB must approve such an appointment.  As such, the manager’s credentials will be reviewed by the PLCB when the club applicant applies for a license.  If an outside management company is used, the licensee must maintain control over all daily operations of the club and the parties must enter into a management agreement, which must also be approved by the PLCB before the manager and management company can begin work.  In conjunction with the application, a club applicant will have to provide certain documentation, including, but not limited to, photographs, member lists, and tax certification statements.  If a club applicant is seeking to transfer a license, the applicant must complete a separate application, and provide the application fee(s) and separate supporting documentation.

In order to avoid delays in the processing of your application, you will want to make sure that the application is completed correctly and that all required documentation is included.  Securing a liquor license can be difficult and time-consuming; however, with the appropriate guidance and support, the application process can move along efficiently and smoothly.

For more information on Stark & Stark’s Beer & Spirits Group, please click here.

It wasn’t until 2002 that a “continuing care retirement community” (CCRC) was permitted to obtain a license to serve alcoholic beverages to its residents on the retirement community’s premises.  To be considered a CCRC under the Pennsylvania Liquor Code, the facility must house at least one hundred people over the age of sixty-two.  Further, the facility must be a “building or complex operated by a nonprofit entity incorporated under 15 Pa.C.S. Pt. II Subpt. C (relating to nonprofit corporations). . .” Under the Liquor Code, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) is permitted to issue a restaurant liquor license to a CCRC.  Once a license is obtained, the licensee may sell liquor or malt or brewed beverages to its residents and/or its residents’ guests.  Beverages sold may be taken anywhere on the CCRC’s premises and do not have to be kept in the portion of the property that is licensed.  Much like a regular bar, restaurant, or state store, sales are subject to certain hourly restrictions, and no one under the age of eighteen is permitted to sell or serve alcoholic beverages.  However, the CCRC may employ minors fourteen years of age and older.  It’s important for licensees to remember that while this is a nice and convenient way for your residents and their guests to enjoy a few drinks with dinner, the CCRC may not serve non-residents who are not guests.  

For more information on Stark & Stark’s Beer & Spirits Group, please click here.

Pennsylvania currently operates under a three-tier beer distribution system which has been in place since the end of Prohibition.  The first tier is made up of brewers who are restricted to selling their beer to wholesale distributors, the second tier, who sell the products to stores, restaurants, and bars, the retailers on the third tier, who then sell the beer to the rest of us.  Under current Pennsylvania law, wholesalers on the second tier are protected by franchise laws, which permit the wholesale distributors to maintain a monopoly over beer distribution in Pennsylvania.  For example, say you have a brewery in the Commonwealth and you decide you want your beer sold in ABC Restaurant, but the wholesaler, Wholesaler #1, doesn’t want to sell your beer to ABC Restaurant.  You find another distributor, Wholesaler #2, who is willing to selling your beer to ABC Restaurant.  So, you just sell your beer to Wholesaler #2, right?  No, can’t do that.  This is because your contract with Wholesaler #1 is exclusive and lifelong, and where and to whom your beer is sold to is not up to you.  It’s the wholesalers, and not the brewery, who decide which stores, restaurants and bars are permitted to sell certain types of beer.  Feel like there’s no hope left?

Enter House Bill 1666, introduced by Pennsylvania State Representative Mike Tobash.  House Bill 1666 seeks to reform these antiquated franchise laws and allow brewers to end impractical lifelong contracts and permit more new brewers to enter into the marketplace.  While the proposed law does not ask for the eradication of franchise laws, it does require brewers and wholesalers to renegotiate their contracts every five (5) years, and permits brewers to terminate their contract with the wholesaler with or without cause, depending on the circumstances.  The Bill also seeks to put a cap of seventy-five thousand (75,000) barrels on the amount of beer that a Pennsylvania-based brewery can distribute on its own.  If approved by the House Liquor Control Committee, the bill will move to the House floor for vote.

For more information on Stark & Stark’s Beer & Spirits Group, please click here.

In Pennsylvania, a person or entity that wishes to sell and/or serve intoxicating beverages to its clientele is required to obtain a liquor license issued by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB).  Once the license is issued, the licensee may sell and/or serve intoxicating beverages pursuant to the type of license it has received.  Many establishments will operate under the direction of the owner/licensee through its managers and employees.  Each retail and wholesale establishment is required to designate a manager.  Pursuant to Pennsylvania law, each licensee is responsible for its employees’ actions and conduct while employed at the establishment.  Therefore, it is important for each licensee to carefully hire and properly train its managers and employees as it will be responsible for their actions, whether good or bad.

What this Means for the Licensee

Compliance with Pennsylvania liquor laws is one of the most important aspects of a licensee’s daily business operations.  Responsibility for the actions and conduct of your managers and employees means that a licensee can be held liable for administrative, civil and criminal sanctions and punishment if an employee violates Pennsylvania liquor laws on the licensed premises.  In order to avoid liability, you want your managers and employees to be well trained in compliance with Pennsylvania’s liquor laws.  The first step for a licensee is to carefully hire qualified and responsible managers and employees to work in its establishment.  The next step will be to train your staff in Pennsylvania liquor laws and to recognize behavior in the clientele which could subject the licensee to liability.  For example, your staff should know how to recognize a visibly intoxicated person, and potential drug activity being conducted in or around the licensed premises.  Recognizing these behaviors could mean the avoidance of liability under Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Act and other laws, and the potential loss of your license.

For more information on Stark & Stark’s Beer & Spirits Group, please click here.