Tampa Bay Area Alcoholic Beverage Licenses
Don’t start applying for an alcoholic beverage license in the Tampa Bay area before reading this complete guide. Whether you or your company is relocating, just opening, or you’re looking to expand your services, your establishment may need an alcoholic beverage license. Find all the answers you need in this step-by-step guide.
Where to Start?
There are many steps to receiving an alcoholic beverage license in the Tampa Bay area. These licenses follow many of the state rules and regulations in Florida, but each county has its own unique applications and regulations. The Tampa Bay area includes the following counties:
- Hernando County (Spring Hill & Brooksville)
- Sarasota County (Sarasota & Venice)
- Hillsborough County (Tampa & Brandon)
- Pinellas County (Clearwater and St. Petersburg)
- Pasco County (New Port Richey)
- Manatee County (Bradenton)
First, you need to fill out an application. There are many essential documents that need to be included in order to complete your application, including:
- Zoning approval
- Sketch of your location
- Contracts for management
- Right of Occupancy
- Related party personal information
- Revenue approval
- Health or H&R approval (Consumption on Premise only)
- Completed application form
Be sure you have all the application materials collected before submitting your application. At Beverage License Specialists, our experienced team can help you put your application together and answer any questions you may have. Submitting an incomplete or incorrect application cannot only delay your license, but it can also cause your application to be rejected.
Once completed, you will need to process the application with the applicable zoning office for the city or county in Tampa Bay in which you are planning to do business. In order to get an alcoholic beverage license, whether it is beer, beer and wine, or liquor (which encompasses all alcohol types), it requires zoning approval and each municipality has their own requirements and procedures that may differ from others. At Beverage License Specialists, we can review with you the requirements that each municipality has in order to obtain zoning approval for the placement and issuance of an alcoholic beverage license.
Types of Florida Alcoholic Beverage Licenses
The Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco has a variety of licenses available, depending on the type of business that you or your company wish to engage in. Everything from railroad cars and other transportation systems, to packaged beer and wine, to a full bar at a restaurant, all require a unique license. Here are just a few of the types of licenses available throughout Florida:
This standard license allows a store to sell beer for an annual fee of $140. It only applies to packaged beer, so you can’t allow on-premise consumption.
Convenience stores, grocery stores, and other retail stores wishing to sell packaged wine and beer must pay an annual fee of $196. This license is only valid for off-premise consumption.
The most comprehensive liquor store license has an annual fee of $1,365. You will be licensed to sell all types of spirits, wine, and beer for strictly off-premise consumption.
This license allows for the sale of beer for consumption on premise at bars or restaurants, as well as off-premise consumption. Customers can drink on-site, but your establishment will not be able to serve wine or spirits, just beer. The annual license fee for this license is $280.
Including wine and beer to your bar or restaurant will cost a yearly fee of $392. Your customers of age can order and consume both beer and wine for on-premise and off-premise consumption.
Finally, for a fully stocked bar, your restaurant or bar will pay an annual fee of $1,820. This allows you to serve a complete menu of spirits, mixed drinks, wine, and beer.
These are the most common types of licenses that are available for both on and off premise consumption for the sale of beer, wine, and spirits in restaurants, bars, and retail beverage and liquor store locations. Florida offers a range of specialty vendor licenses for other locations. Ask a specialist at Beverage License Specialists to verify that your particular location uses one of these licenses and not a specialized alternative.
You will need to determine the type of alcoholic beverage license that is most suited for your business. Even if you currently only serve beer, you may want to consider pursuing a license that allows you to expand the types of alcoholic you would like to offer.
Choosing the Alcoholic Beverage License for Your Business
Which type of license will work best in your situation? If you want to focus solely on beer sales, the 1APS or 1COP licenses are the only available options. However, you may wish to consider a wider selection of beverages that can bring in an exponential amount of sales.
These licenses are applied for through the state, in which Florida will collect an annual fee and an application fee for a new license. Another option to keep in mind is a quota. Quota licenses are made available by the state of Florida based on quota increases in population. Based upon the population in a given county, there are a limited number of licenses issued. One new license is made available for each increase in the population of 7500 people. Bars and nightclubs that serve more than 49% of their gross sales in alcoholic beverages will require a quota liquor license. Retail package liquor stores also will require a quota liquor license.
If your business model is to be a restaurant or food service establishment that will sell 51% or greater in the sale of food and non-alcoholic beverages and has the prescribed square footage and equipped to serve the required number of patrons, you may qualify for a 4COP/SFS (special food service license). Unlike the quota license, there’s an infinite amount of 4COP/SFS licenses available. Be sure to work with our license professionals if you have more questions about quotas, special food service licenses, and beer & wine licenses for your Tampa Bay location.
It is in your best interest to contact the professionals at Beverage License Specialists and explain to us where you intend to open. One of the unique things about Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa is in that in both Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa, they have an additional requirement for wet zoning approval. Depending upon the location and whether it has already been approved for wet zoning, this is another requirement to get approval for alcoholic beverage sales for your intended location. Wet zoning approval for either the city of Tampa or the unincorporated portions of Hillsborough County can be a lengthy and onerous process, taking anywhere from one to three months to get approval. It is these intricacies and special requirements that our licensing professionals can help walk you through to achieve the right alcoholic beverage license for your business.
Buying and Selling Liquor Licenses in the Tampa Bay Area
The application process for any type of alcoholic beverage license can be long and tedious. Whether you’re starting a new restaurant or opening a new location in any one of the above-mentioned counties in Tampa Bay, it can be difficult to find the time to submit a full application.
Our dedicated team at Beverage License Specialists is able to assist you with our extensive knowledge of the local and state requirements. Focus your energy on getting your new restaurant, liquor store, or bar off the ground, and let our licensing experts navigate the application process for you.
If you’re ready to relocate from the county or close down your business, we can also help you sell your liquor license. We will assist with navigating the process to ensure a professional and efficient transfer of your license.
New Florida Liquor License Application Process
Once you’ve completed the extensive list of applications materials required for the first step, you’ll need to wait for the district office to review your application.
Once your alcoholic beverage license initial materials are accepted, processed and license issued, an on-site inspection may be required to ensure your location is in compliance with the State requirements.
It’s important to have a professional team like Beverage License Specialists engaged to facilitate and monitor the license process for you.
Financing Your Tampa Bay Area Liquor License
While owning a liquor store or restaurant can be a lucrative business, many small business owners may find themselves struggling to pay for the acquisition of the license. Whether you’re in the middle of a financially rocky season or want to hold on to your working capital, consider liquor license financing.
Using the quota liquor license as collateral, our financing partners can enable you to acquire a quota liquor license without the initial financial burden of a large lump sum. Choose from a range of long-term or short-term options to acquire your quota license and get your business off the ground and running smoothly.
Navigate the Process With Beverage License Specialists
Of course, your business will need many more licenses in order to become fully operational in any of the Tampa Bay Area counties. Browse our extensive list of licensing matters that we can handle to learn how you can save time and focus on your business. No matter which type of alcoholic beverage license you are in need of, contact us to get started with all your licensing needs. Once you secure your alcoholic beverage license in the Tampa Bay area, you’re ready to open your location, advertise effectively, and create a popular meeting place for your local community.