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What to Look Out for When Opening a Restaurant or Bar in Florida

If you are buying or signing a lease for any kind of use that includes a liquor license, make sure you can get a license for that space. Beverage license specialists can assist you with site selection for uses that involve alcohol like doing zoning due diligence, talking to municipal zoning, and identifying the feasibility of getting an alcohol-related business up and running. When scoping out a new space for your new bar, restaurant, liquor store, nightclub, or other businesses, below are some things to consider:

The Kind of Liquor License you Need

Here the basic kinds of liquor licenses to choose from depending on your needs:

  • 2COP license. With this license, you can sell beer and wine by the glass or in sealed containers. This can cost you around $400 every year; however, the cost varies by county.
  • 4COP SFS license. SFS stands for special food service. This full liquor license must be obtained by a restaurant that has at least 2, 500 square feet and space to serve 150 people at a time. Beverages that can sell with this license must only be consumed on-premise.

  • 4 COP quota license. Although this is also a full liquor license, it doesn’t require the same levels of square footage, percentage food sales, and seating as an SFS. This is a quota license since there is just a certain quota or amount of such licenses available in every county. The state only allows one license per 7, 500 people in one county. This is the license bars and nightclubs usually get.

Existing Liquor License for the Space

Even if the space has an existing liquor license, you still have to dig deeper. If you are taking over a restaurant; however, planning to operate the space as a bar, things could change. How you plan on using the space will dictate the kind of liquor license to get and the way the local municipality will treat your business from a zoning perspective. Also, keep in mind that even if the seller is offering a liquor license, this doesn’t automatically get the license approved by the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (DABT). The division reviews every application individually.

The Zoning of the Property

Every Florida County is broken up into several municipalities and every municipality has its own set of laws that regulate the way the land can be used and how businesses can operate with its borders. Your city will review your application, check the kind of business you want to open, and perform a background check to ensure your business is permitted in that location.

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