New Video: How do I get a license to serve alcohol, outdoors, in Virginia?

ABC Consulting, Crystal Stump, SCC, EIN, ABC License

Crystal Stump (owner and CEO of ABC Consulting and former Virginia ABC Special Agent from the Alcohol Beverage Control Authority) shows you, in this video, how to get a license for a patio or an outdoor venue. Spring is heading our way (March 20, 2022 is the first day of spring) and everyone will be looking for outdoor dining! Are you ready? Today, we’re going to talk about designated licenced areas, specificly your patio.

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

Before we get started, if you haven’t subscribed to our channel, please do! And if you are already enjoying our YouTube channel, please click the bell notification – so you’ll get notified of new videos. It will also help other people browsing YouTube to see our channel. ABC Consulting’s channel is for anyone unsure of how to navigate ABC regulations or for anyone who needs to know all the steps of the process. ABC Consulting was created in 2009 after my retirement from the VA Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Division, to help businesses such as yours to run a successful and compliant business. In fact, ABC Consulting was created because of my expertise with alcohol regulation (I am a former ABC Agent). This business provides as much help and information, as possible, to current and future VA ABC alcohol licensees. If you need an ABC license (or if you want to keep your ABC license), SUBSCRIBE to our channel!

So back to the content of this video:

Today, we’ll talk about licensing designated areas of a business – a patio, for instance. When you apply to sell and serve alcohol – you have to define your license area. For some reason the “floor plan” of an application has gone away, but what remains is being very specific about what areas you are licensed. Why is this so important? Because owners hange, managers change and probably your footprint will change, at some point. And, when an ABC agent stops by for your ABC inspection, that licensed area is specific and designated. Muddier, still, is when you have an upstairs, a patio, a banquet hall or a porch with seating.

The safest way to prove something is to have it part of the application package, right at the beginning. And if you are applying for an additional area to be licensed, you’ll need to show the originally designated area. So please make the floor plan or aerial view of your dining area, part of your application package. That is the reason for an aerial view or a floor plan – you want to be very clear to all parties what the designated licensed area is.

Once you are licensed – you have a “licensed” dining area – and only that area that was approved. You cannot add a couple of tables, outside or upstairs. Only your original designated dining area is for consuming food and alcohol. That designated area will need tables and chairs. And if you are thinking of adding a patio area, that area will also need tables and chairs for your customers. And you’ll need a new and updated license that includes that patio area. You’ll need to show the NEW dimensions, a floor plan, or an aerial view. You’ll also need to show how the originally licensed area will access the patio and prove that there are barriers of that area that make it closed to the public, except to through your licensed business.

Access is important. The perimeter of the seating and how you are going to access that area, because it needs to be clearly marked with a defined dining area with tables and chairs, with a barrier that isn’t easily stepped over. The barrier doesn’t have to be made of concrete, but it has to be clear (planters, decorative roping, pool fencing, wooden fencing, privacy screens, artificial hedges, etc.). There also does need to be an emergency exit from the area. That emergency exit needs to push OUT (and not easily accessed in), in case of emergency. This barrier and emergency exit is put in place for regulatory purposes and for safety reasons. Lastly, you do need to control that area – no alcohol can leave this area, legally.

Other areas that you might consider licensing: a second dining room or a designated area (back porch, front porch, an overflow area or a ballroom that doesn’t have tables and chairs except for special events).

If you are just starting the licensing process, watch this video. AND, as you are applying for your license, make sure you select the correct license to start with – before you get to the inspection stage! Have more questions? We welcome them! Have the right team (consultant) in your corner, right from the beginning.

Finally, a great way to learn more about serving alcohol, compliantly, is to take our online training, at Our training is very comprehensive and covers DUI’s, ID’ing, how to apply for an alcohol license, how to properly manage a license location and how to do your MBAR’s – the cost of our training is only $29.95 and is available, immediately, self-paced and online. All employees should re-take the training, annually.

So, in conclusion, it is important to have the conversation with us (or your ABC assigned agent) about the regulations and do some brainstorming, BEFORE you apply for a license or do a build out of a patio or start getting quotes for additional seating. Have a detailed conversation about designated barriers, access from the licensed premises and emergency exits. Have an ariel view or a floor plan of the original licensed area, in case of inspection. Any new managers or new ABC agents will need to be able to see original licensing agreements, if there is a question – and you’ll have that plan as part of your license and application package. If you want to add a patio or a designated area, let’s go through the brainstorming process, together – there are a lot of legalities of designating more space to be able to serve alcohol in, inside of your business. Legally. Compliance is our mission – to get you compliant and to KEEP you compliant.

Please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for the most common discussions and mistakes relating to Alcohol Licensing in the state of Virginia. We welcome the call to walk through this with you, over the phone, if you are still confused, but this is the most common hold up in VA ABC applications. Let’s talk: 800-785-0161

*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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *