Within the hospitality industry, a liquor license can significantly influence your level of profits and ultimate business success. According to industry experts, liquor sales often account for more than 20% of earnings for restaurants. Liquor sales also have a higher profit margin than food sales, and a restaurant without a liquor license is just not an attractive option for many potential patrons. The significant profitability of selling liquor makes it a necessary endeavor for many restaurant owners. But the process of obtaining a liquor license can prove challenging, especially without the assistance of an experienced hospitality attorney.
Getting a Chicago Liquor License
To obtain a liquor license within the city of Chicago, you must abide by city regulations, as well as the laws of Illinois. There are numerous steps that must be taken, even before a license application is filed. Failing to use due diligence in completing these tasks can prove a costly mistake, as you may find yourself in a situation where you have spent a significant amount of money with no ability to secure a license.
In general, the steps for obtaining a Chicago liquor license include the following:
- Applicants must first meet with a representative from the city’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection agency. This is an informational meeting to determine what type of license is appropriate and whether your business location includes any license restrictions.
- A case manager is assigned to your application as your point of contact regarding the status of your license request.
- You must provide detailed documentation in your application regarding the ownership and financing of your business.
- Your physical establishment must successfully pass required inspections from several city departments.
- Once the application and fee are submitted, the city generally makes a determination within 90 days.
There are numerous reasons why your liquor license application may not be granted, to include:
- The location of your establishment – Some neighborhoods are designated as “dry precincts,” meaning that additional licenses are prohibited in the area. Additionally, the city code prohibits the issuance of a liquor license for any establishment within 100 feet of a school, hospital, church, library or elderly housing facility.
- Inspection failure – Successful city inspections are required before a liquor license is granted, to include reviews by the Department of Health and the Department of Buildings.
- Neighborhood sentiment – When a new liquor license application is submitted, each registered voter within a 250 foot radius of the establishment is notified. These residents are given the option to contact BACP with any concerns, which are taken into consideration by the agency.
Once your local liquor license is granted, you must then request a license from the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. This process also involves a significant amount of paperwork. Additionally, you must provide proof of purchase for the business property and a business Certificate of insurance.
If you are a current or aspiring restaurant owner who wants to secure a liquor license for your establishment, contact an experienced Chicago restaurant attorney today. Call the Law Offices of Howard C. Berkson, LLC at (312) 800-3979 for knowledgeable guidance through this challenging process.