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This question was submitted to us via email by Joseph T., who we thank for his submission.
Hi, I am an owner of a small restaurant. We do not have a liquor license yet, but I have been told that we can allow customers to bring their own alcohol "BYOB", and even charge a "bottle fee" since my restaurant has a maximum capacity of 40 people. My attorney is very expensive and does not freely provide answers, even though I have used him for a while. Can you help me with this??
Dear Joseph T.:
The rules may be confusing when it comes to consumption of alcohol without a license in small bars/restaurants. However, IN PLAIN ENGLISH, according to the New York State Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, the rule is that any business, no matter how big or small, is required to have a license/permit to sell or serve alcohol to their customers. A restaurant without a license/permit may not allow customers to bring their own alcoholic beverages regardless of the seating capacity. Restaurant owners can not even "give away" alcoholic beverages for free without a license. Therefore, to answer your question "BYOB" is illegal in the state of New York, and you cannot allow your customers to bring their own alcohol.
Because liquor license applications are confusing and time consuming, it is important to contact an attorney to assist with filing. In addition, The NY State Liquor Authority allows attorneys to "Self-Certify" applications that they file on behalf of their clients. The Self Certification Program allows for a quick review of applications that are certified by an attorney to be true and accurate and comply with all statutory requirements. Only applications filed by Attorneys qualify for this program and the NYSLA is stating that applications filed pursuant to this program can be turned around in one month or less!
Thank you for submitting your question. We hope that we have provided you with an answer IN PLAIN ENGLISH.