How do I get an Alcohol License for a Coffee Shop?

In this video, Crystal Stump (owner and CEO of ABC Consulting and former Virginia ABC Special Agent from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority) discusses how to get an alcohol license for a coffee shop. 

Pour yourself a drink; you’re going to need it!

Today we’re going to talk about a coffee shop and how to sell alcoholic beverages from that coffee shop. In the state of Virginia, there isn’t a specific license that is designated for a coffee shop, but I have licensed a lot of coffee shops and I will explain what kind of license you need to apply for.

Most likely, you’d apply for a restaurant ABC license

  • The Wine & Beer restaurant
  • Mixed Beverage restaurant

These have separate qualifications. You can add Mixed Beverage later (but there is expense involved in changing and upgrading the license – the added application fees to reapply, publishing it in the newspaper, etc.), but if you want to start with the Wine & Beer restaurant, there is a $2,000 food sales requirement. If you are not knowledgeable about what kind of sales your business is doing, this is a great place to start – before you apply.

This $2,000 requirement of food sales are on-premises sales (not ToGo) and of that $2,000, $1,000 of it needs to qualify as an entrée. What is an entrée? One thing that will make it easier to think about is Starbucks. Starbucks in a Virginia ABC licensee. They serve soup, sandwiches and they sell $2,000 worth of on-premises food items. Can you? Think: sandwich and side, soup and roll, avocado toast, bagel and toppings. These need to be on-premises sales; your ToGo sales have to be separated out of the sales in your reports that you file with the VA ABC Authority. (If you need help filing these reports, that is something that we happily do for our clients!). If you decide that you want to add a shot of Baily’s Irish Cream, you need to apply for a Mixed Beverage restaurant. AND you have to sell $4,000 of food each month, in-house, in order to qualify.

These food sales are ‘proven’ to VA ABC Authority, in reports that you file, and ABC is very strict in their requirements. You’ll need to apply for the proper license, up front, or you waste a lot of time (up to 45 days) and money doing something that isn’t going to work for your business plan.

The Enforcement division of the ABC Authority takes their job very seriously. We have a great training course that will help you understand the laws and requirements in the state of Virginia for serving and selling alcohol. If you are new to Virginia, or new to selling alcohol, you and your staff need to take this training. It will ensure that you start off on the right foot with the VA ABC Authority. Knowledge is power and you need to be educated about the things that you don’t know. Even if you understand (through this video), what is required of this license, there are so many requirements that you need to be aware of before you become a licensee. Our training is very detailed: how to prepare for an inspection, how long it takes to get a license, and how to keep your records in a compliant manner so that you pass inspections and keep your record clear. And, of course, how to properly ID and what’s in it for your employees to do so.

We train your employees (on-site or online), can help file your reports, help you set up your record keeping, and even prepare for a hearing. I would hate for you to pay a $2,500 fine to the VA ABC Authority simply because you didn’t know how to keep proper records or didn’t train your new employee how to ID. Even coffee shops and drug stores are checked by the ABC Enforcement division (annually, and most times secretly) to see if you are ID’ing properly. The have an Underage Buyer that is sent in (by the Enforcment Division) to try to buy an alcoholic beverage. If you fail that, you’re going to pay the penalty. Here is a link describing the Underage Buyer operation. Training is power. Knowledge is power. And our training is available online, for only $29.95.

If you own a business or manage a business that sells alcohol, subscribe to our channel because our videos talk about what affects you, the alcohol business, in Virginia. We like to focus on Virginia, because our corporate office is located in Virginia, but we are not exclusive to Virginia. In fact, we can help license your winery, distillery, brewery or any business that serves or sells alcohol, all across the United States (and even some out-of-country clients). This channel is perfect for future and current ABC licensees. Each week, we publish a new video discussing different license types, compliance, regulations and trainings available for your business. Being compliant will save you money (and in some cases, even a criminal record) – which is the whole purpose of this consulting business – to keep you compliant, save you money and educate you about the ABC regulations in the state of Virginia (and beyond). Be sure to subscribe, like or comment on this video, and don’t forget to click the BELL notification so that you are notified, via email, of any new videos.  

I hope you find these videos educational, informative and interesting. We are continually updating our YouTube channel with new regulations, types of license types and the ins and outs of staying compliant. Please subscribe!  If you DO find this video educational and informative, please give us a Thumbs Up. We’d love to hear where you are watching from – feel free to plug or advertise your business! Thanks for watching; Cheers! Thanks, again, for tuning in – please comment below and tell me what your plans are, where you are located, your business’s social channels. We’d love to meet you!

*Disclaimer: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.  Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.  This website contains links to other third-party websites.  Such links are only for the convenience of the reader, user, or browser; ABC Consulting VA, LLC does not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites. Readers of this website should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.  No reader, user, or browser of this site should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information on this site without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.  Only your individual attorney can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable or appropriate to your particular situation. The views expressed at, or through, this site are those of the individual authors’ writing in their individual capacities only.  All liability with respect to actions taken or not taken, based on the contents of this site, are hereby expressly disclaimed.  The content on this posting is provided “as is;” no representations are made that the content is error-free. In no capacity do we represent the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, IRS, SCC or any other government agency.

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