Francis’ Insights on Getting a Liquor License for Your Business
“Is It Hard to Get a Liquor License in Illinois?” (Part 1)
Yes, it’s true. The application process for a liquor license in Illinois is a thorough one.
A process designed to make sure the municipality where your establishment is located and the state of Illinois grant liquor licenses to responsible business owners.
In case you don’t know and most people don’t – it’s a privilege, not a right, to sell and/or serve alcohol to the public.
For all these reasons, I wrote this valuable guide, “Is It Hard to Get a Liquor License in Illinois?”
By the way, I broke up my guide into two parts so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Part 1, which you’re reading right now, reveals the first essential thing you must know to get your liquor license. And I’ll pull back the curtain on the second essential thing (Part 2) in the following article.
So now, let’s focus your attention on the first essential thing to getting a liquor license. And that is to…
Determine What Kind of Liquor License You Need
The first essential thing to getting your local liquor license is finding out what kind of license you need.
See, there are 9 different classes of liquor licenses that exist in most cities and towns in Illinois starting with…
1. Tavern License
A tavern license is required for any business, where the primary activity is the retail sale of alcohol on the business premises.
Typically, bars, pubs, lounges, and nightclubs must have a tavern license.
If your business has a tavern license, no one under 21 years of age is allowed on the premises—unless accompanied by their parent or guardian.
2. Consumption on Premises—Incidental Activity License (a.k.a. a COPIA license. Restaurants typically need a COPIA license)
A COPIA license is required typically for a business, where the sale of alcohol is incidental or secondary to another primary business activity.
For example, if you intend to operate a restaurant, you may need a COPIA license because your primary business activity will be the sale of FOOD.
And, your incidental or secondary business activity is the sale of alcohol consumed on the business site.
A bowling alley is another COPIA example. All because bowling is the primary business activity. And, the sale of alcohol is incidental to that primary business purpose.
Banquet halls, hotels and theaters are other COPIA examples.
TIP # 1: If your business has a COPIA license, the primary business activity must never cease while your business is operating.
For instance: If you’re operating a restaurant, and you’re open for business…
The kitchen must be open and operating at all times!
I bring this up because it has become a common issue where restaurants close their kitchens early but continue to serve alcohol.
If you close your kitchen early, guess what?
You’re in violation of the terms of your COPIA license. Simply because your primary business activity of selling food changed to the primary business activity of selling alcohol.
TIP # 2: If you violate the terms of your COPIA, you can be cited, ordered to pay a lofty fine, or lose your liquor license!
3. Package Goods License (Liquor Store)
If you want to operate a liquor store, grocery or convenience store, that sells alcohol, you’ll need a package goods license.
A package goods license allows you to sell alcohol in the original package or bottle to be consumed off-premise.
If you operate a delivery app service, you’ll need at least one location as a base from which to store and sell packaged alcohol.
That’s because the law requires that you have a storefront with a package goods liquor
This enables you to deliver alcohol to consumers within the territory of that location.
And, as you expand into multiple territories in the Chicagoland area and throughout Illinois, it would make sense that each territory has its own storefront with a package goods liquor license.
TIP # 3: If you operate a delivery app service, let the experts at my firm get you multiple packaged goods liquor licenses to cover all of the territories you want.
The benefit to you being; more territories with larger revenue streams.
4. Late Hour License (a.k.a. “Big Bucks License”)
Would you like to “Print Money On Demand” and also give your business a competitive advantage?
Let the experts at my firm get you your late hour license. What is a late hour license? And how do you get it?
First, let me explain what a late hour license is. A typical liquor license allows you to sell alcohol until 2:00 a.m. Although each city has its own rules on how late you can operate.
But, a late hour license allows you to sell alcohol in some cities until 4:00 a.m. every day and on Sunday (meaning Saturday night turning into Sunday morning) until 5:00 a.m.
As you know, most businesses only have a 2:00 a.m. liquor license. If you’re one of the lucky few that have a late hour liquor license, customers that leave other bars and night clubs that close at 2:00 a.m. will go to your business.
Since you can continue to serve drinks for an ADDITIONAL TWO HOURS every night!
How do you get this “License to Print Money” and give yourself a competitive advantage?
Simple. Hire the experts at my firm to get the “Late Hour License” for you!
Another money-making license to have in your arsenal is the…
5. Outdoor Patio license (a.k.a. Beer Garden a.k.a. “Fun in the Sun license”)
An outdoor patio license a.k.a. the Fun in the Sun license allows you to sell alcohol in a privately owned outdoor location that’s next to your business that currently holds a liquor license.
Keep in mind, an outdoor patio license is different from a sidewalk café permit.
What is a sidewalk café permit? Read on and find out…
6. Sidewalk Café Permit
A sidewalk café permit is different from an outdoor patio license. As I said, an outdoor patio license is for a location that’s next to and on your property.
On the other hand, a sidewalk café permit allows you to sell alcohol (in the sun) on the public way.
The public way is the sidewalk. A sidewalk café permit is another great money-maker that allows you to enhance and monetize your business.
The great thing about a sidewalk café is that you can monetize the sidewalk next to your business.
So, if you don’t have space on your property for an outdoor patio license, no problem. You can still make money in the sun by operating a sidewalk café.
Why not squeeze every dollar you can by monetizing the sidewalk right next to your business.
Remember – the experts at my firm can help you make money from the very sidewalk that is next to your business!
7. Caterer’s License
Do you like catering events?
If you’re good at it, there’s lots of money to be made!
So why not channel your inner Emeril Lagasse or Martha Stewart into a money-making catering operation? A caterer’s license allows catering companies or restaurants to serve food and alcohol OFF-SITE.
What does off-site mean?
Off-site means you prepare the food at your business location and serve the food (and drinks) at another location.
TIP #4: Catering companies usually need a valid Food license. The experts at my firm can help you get your Food license, too.
Now, if your home kitchen is outside of Chicago, but you want to cater events in Chicago—you’ll need a Caterer’s Registration license.
8. Club License (Not-for-Profit)
Are you a Not-for-Profit corporation that has been in existence for at least 3-years? Do you have a kitchen and dining room at your club’s location?
If you answered “YES” to those two questions, we can get your club a liquor license.
This way, when your members meet for events, your club can save money by preparing the food and serving drinks.
The best part is, you won’t have to hire an expensive third-party company to host or provide for your events!
9. Rooftop License
If you want a rooftop license in Chicago and many cities in Illinois, you must get an outdoor patio license and a special use permit combo.
The catch is, you must first get the Special Use permit from the local Zoning Board asking for a zoning variation to sell alcohol on your rooftop.
When you have the Special Use permit—you must then get an outdoor patio license.
Once you have both, you now can serve liquor on your rooftop patio.
To recap, you’ve just learned the first essential thing to getting a liquor license. And that is to…
Determine which of the 9 different classes of liquor licenses you need.
In the following article, I’ll go in depth on the second essential thing you must know to get your liquor license. And that is…
To find out what restrictions exist against the class of liquor license you want.
“Is It Hard to Get a Liquor License in Illinois?” (Part 2)
This might surprise you, but it’s 100% true.
The application process to get a liquor license in Illinois is an in-depth one.
It’s designed to ensure the municipality where your business is located and the state of Illinois grant liquor licenses to responsible owners.
With this in mind, I broke up my new guide, “Is It Hard to Get a Liquor License in Illinois?” into two parts.
Part 1, which is directly above this article, revealed the first essential thing you must know to get your liquor license.
So now, I’m going to pull back the curtain on the second essential thing you must know to get a liquor license for your business.
And that is to…
Find Out What Restrictions May Exist Against Your Liquor License Class
The second essential thing you need to get your liquor license is finding out what restrictions may exist against the class of liquor license you want.
This means you must have a business address in mind to determine possible restrictions.
Now, you’re probably familiar with the old saying, “You can’t fight City Hall.” But what if you’ve found the “perfect location” and restrictions exist?
The good news is that our team of experts can help you determine if there are any loopholes.
Mind you: There are FIVE restrictions you must be aware of right out of the gate. After all, any one of these restrictions may prevent you from getting a liquor license.
What are these restrictions, you may ask? Well, let me reveal what they are…
First up, you must have the correct zoning for the class of liquor license you want. We can help you determine what zoning you need and whether your proposed site is in the correct zoning district.
2. Dry Areas
In some areas, the voters have voted the precinct dry. What this means is that no one can have a liquor license in a precinct that was voted “dry.”
3. Liquor Moratorium Districts
The Alderman can be a powerful player in his (or her) Ward.
That’s because the Alderman has the power to pass an ordinance at City Council to enact a Moratorium District on a particular block in the Alderman’s Ward.
Typically, no new liquor license applications are allowed in a Moratorium District.
But, contrary to popular belief, there are some little-known secrets to get around Moratorium District restrictions.
That’s right. For instance, on your behalf, we could consult with the Alderman to find out if the Alderman is willing to lift the moratorium.
If yes, the Alderman temporarily deactivates the moratorium-ban against new liquor licenses.
Then, my firm submits your liquor application. Then, you get your liquor license. Then, the Alderman reactivates the moratorium once you’re grand-fathered in.
Better yet, no one else can apply for a liquor license because the moratorium has been reactivated.
Does this sound complicated? Don’t worry. Our team of experts can do the job.
In fact, we recently got a moratorium ban deactivated, so a famous northwest side Polish deli could apply for a package goods license.
Here’s how it went down…
We went to the Alderman who controlled the Ward. We gave a presentation to the Alderman explaining our client’s business track-record. We explained that our client had other delis in Chicago. Finally, we explained that our client operated responsible businesses and did not have any trouble with his other delis.
And guess what?
The Alderman deactivated the moratorium, and we got our client a Package Goods License (think liquor store) for a 30,000 square foot operation.
4. You Can’t Be Too Close to Certain Institutions
You cannot get a liquor license if your business is within 100 FEET of a church, day care center, school, home for the aged or indigent, hospital, and branch-libraries.
An interesting issue that can come up is how you measure the 100 feet. Depending on what kind of institution your business is close to, the 100 feet is measured in different
For example, if it’s a library, the 100 feet is measured from your property line to the library’s property line. But watch out! Streets, alleys, and public ways are NOT included in the measurement.
TIP: Even if your business is located within 100 feet of an institution… never, never, never give up!
Throughout Part 1 and Part of this guide, we’ve touted ourselves as liquor license experts. Do we have the right to call ourselves experts?
Well, we’ll let you be the judge after you read this eye-opening case study:
We had a client who owned a restaurant in Chicago. His first name is Joe.
Joe has opened up several restaurants in Chicago using our firm to get all of his liquor licenses.
By the way, we do more than just get you your liquor license. We’re more than just a first-class team of lawyers, experts, and expediters. We’re also great counselors and business advisors to our clients.
Anyways, one day, we counseled Joe about one of his restaurants and how he should and could be making more money.
We said to Joe, “Why don’t you apply for an outdoor patio liquor license (“Fun in the Sun” license)? Look, you have a beautiful outside patio in the back of your restaurant.” We knew there was a church within 100 feet of the patio property line—but we knew we could still get it done.
How did we get it done?
Well, we used our team of political lobbyists to pass a law in Springfield that carved out a loophole for Joe’s spot. We applied for Joe’s outdoor patio liquor license even though he was within 100-feet of the church.
And you know what?
We succeeded! We got Joe his outdoor patio liquor license.
And Joe is printing money in the sun because he had our team of experts change a law for him so he could get his patio license.
5. Other Taverns Are Too Close
In some zoning districts, you cannot apply for a new tavern license if there are other tavern licenses within 400-feet or other distance restriction depending on the city.
The good news is that our team can get your liquor license no matter the obstacles!
To find out how we can get your local, Illinois Liquor license, and help with your other license needs, contact us today.
Simply send an email to [email protected][dot]com or call (847) 777-9410 to schedule an appointment.
You’ll be glad you did.
“The Fastest Path to Getting Your Grocery Delivery Business Licenses in Illinois”
There are several national and international Grocery delivery businesses looking to get a foothold in the Chicago area and throughout Illinois.
The most successful ones promise consumers the ability to deliver them up to 2,000 grocery items within 10 to 30 minutes.
So, if you’re an executive for one of these grocery delivery businesses interested in penetrating the Chicago market, you’ll need to…
Get the correct business licenses.
Keep in mind, the licenses you’ll need depends on the municipality where your grocery delivery business will operate.
The good news is, the licenses you need in the City of Chicago are largely the same licenses you’ll need in other cities throughout Illinois.
That being said, this guide you’re reading right now…
Focuses on what’s needed in Chicago. Just know, you’ll need similar licenses in the other cities located in Illinois.
This leads us to…
The First Essential License You’ll Need for Your Grocery Delivery Business
The first essential license you’ll need for your grocery delivery business is a Retail Food Establishment License.
Chicago requires this license any time perishable food is prepared, served or sold to the public.
Furthermore, a Retail Food License is only issued to a commercial location.
According to the City of Chicago Health Department, you’ll need the following documentation and information when applying for this first license:
- The name of your business…
- Business address…
- Square footage…
- Lease or proof of ownership of the property…
- Illinois Business Tax (IBT) number…
- Federal Employers Identification (FEIN) number…
- Ownership information, and…
- A photo I.D.
But that’s just the beginning…
Since you must also make sure your proposed business site is in a Zoning District that allows a grocery store.
In addition, the city requires ALL retail food businesses have at least one employee on the premises at all times. And, he (or she) must have a valid City of Chicago Food Service Sanitation Certificate.
The step-by-step course to help an employee get this certificate offers:
- Basic food science background and information on the proper handling of food, and…
- How to maintain a sanitary food establishment
And finally, before the city grants you this license…
You must also pass a public HEALTH INSPECTION.
This inspection focuses on food handling practices, product temperature, personal hygiene, facility maintenance, and pest control.
As soon as you pass the health inspection, you’ll get your Retail Food Establishment License.
This now brings us to…
The Second Essential License You’ll Need for Your Grocery Delivery Business
The second essential license you’ll need for your grocery delivery business is a Package Goods Liquor License.
This license allows you to sell alcohol in the original package or bottle to be consumed off-premise.
Just know that the application process for a liquor license in Illinois is a thorough one.
It’s a process designed to ensure the municipality where your establishment is located and the State of Illinois grant liquor licenses to responsible business owners.
In case you don’t know and most people don’t…
It’s a privilege, not a right, to sell and/or serve alcohol to the public.
Now, if you operate a Delivery App Service…
You’ll need at least one location as a BASE from which to store and sell packaged alcohol.
That’s because the law requires you have a storefront with a Package Goods Liquor License. This allows you to deliver alcohol to consumers within the territory of that location.
But what if you want to…
Expand Your Delivery App Service to Multiple Territories in Chicago and Throughout Illinois
You can do this.
As long as each territory has its own storefront with a Package Goods Liquor License.
So, if you operate a delivery app service…
Let the experts at my firm get you multiple package goods liquor licenses to cover all of the territories you want.
The benefit to you being; more territories equates to larger revenue streams.
To recap, you’ve just learned the two essential things you need to operate a successful grocery store delivery service.
And that is to…
Get a Retail Food Establishment License and a Package Goods Liquor License.
In a few days, I’ll go more in depth on the actual liquor license process.