Crystal Stump (founder and CEO of ABC Consulting and former special ABC Agent from the Alcohol Beverage Control Authority) explains how an event venue can get an ABC Alcohol license.
ABC Consulting was created in 2009 after my retirement from the VA Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Division. Since then, ABC Consulting has grown into a successful team of former VA ABC Special Agents, working for alcohol licensees across Virginia and other states. We also have former Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade (known as TTB) agents and inspectors and our team works alongside you and your business for seamless licensing, compliance and training.
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I am trying to educate the ABC community with these videos. There is a lot of misinformation and a lot of missing information and that is what these videos (and my company) try to do – educate and inform about alcohol compliance. So, back to wedding venues!
Pour yourself a drink; you’re going to need it!
I often get calls about someone wanting to serve alcohol at their event venue or are looking into opening a wedding venue and are not really sure if they are going to able to serve alcohol. This video will go into the details of what it means to be a venue and how you can serve alcohol at your venue.
First off, if you have something attached to your venue (such as a winery – everyone wants to get married at a winery – they have the beautiful fields and the farm), it is perfectly legal for you to let them get married on your property and you sell them the wine (or sell it to their guests). But what if that bride wants to serve beer? Or mixed drinks. That makes things more complicated. Your winery is only licensed to sell wine, not beer or mixed drinks, so normally what happens, is the individual that is renting your venue and getting married applies for a one-day banquet license. (If you are a bride, reading this blog, and you decide that you need a one-day alcohol license, go our website, click on the wedding bouquet and run through the online application). This is called a one-day banquet license, and will allow them to serve beer and mixed drinks on the day of their wedding, at your venue. Your license to sell wine will allow them to buy the wine from you and the one-day event license will allow to them to give the beer and mixed drinks to their guests.
Unfortunately, the individual that is renting your venue has to be the one to apply and obtain that license. The calls I get from wineries are that the wineries or event venues feel like they are missing out because they would like to be able to sell the beer and mixed drinks to the wedding missing out. They want to be able to sell the alcohol to the wedding couple. The best way to do that is to get a beer and mixed drink restaurant license, but with that license you then have to sell the food, on a monthly basis.
If you plan on opening a venue that has events that sells tickets, beer and wine at your events and caters large parties, perhaps you need to consider getting a restaurant license. As you are weighing out the pros and cons, sometimes it is obvious that it is worth the cost to become a restaurant. Or change your license to a restaurant license, because the best way to serve alcohol, yourself, is to get a Wine, Beer and Mixed Beverage restaurant license (As a restaurant, with a restaurant alcohol license, you need to sell $2,000 of food a month, for a wine and beer license and $4,000 of food for mixed beverages license).
Another option is to lease out your property to a restaurant or caterer to be able to serve food and serve beer, wine and mixed beverages.
I have been able to help wineries go the restaurant route in order to create these big, profitable events. We coach our clients with our restaurant consulting license. And we can help you walk through the math and make a plan of how to sell enough food to be able to obtain that licensing. You can sell tickets to dinners that are open to the public. That way you know exactly how much food to buy to be able to cover the event that you’ve sold the tickets for. Then you can count those food sales towards your required monthly minimum food sales.
Golf courses often have weddings and usually they have a mixed-beverage license and sell food, so they are covered for their events. The wedding party doesn’t have to get an event license at a golf course.
And restaurants often have wedding receptions. Or they use their picturesque patio. They are also covered, as a golf course is, because they have an alcohol license and sell and serve the required minimum of food, each month. They wouldn’t have to ask the bride or groom to apply for and obtain a special one-day license, either. That way they CAN sell the wine, beer and the mixed drinks or whatever they are licensed for, at the event.
So, the most flexible license is a restaurant license….incorporating the food and the alcohol sales into your business model, because the best (and only) license for an event venue is a restaurant license. You have to have the food prep area and the food sales – so it is a pretty big change, but it might be worth the cost. If your wedding venue isn’t set up to have the proper kitchen to sell and serve food, then you miss that opportunity to add those sales to your events. Another route, if your venue isn’t set up with a food prep area, might be the Food Truck!
You could purchase a food truck to connect to your venue, permanently. You’d have your permanent food truck (with an alcohol license) and that could work for the wedding party, without involving outside caterers or asking the wedding party to obtain their own alcohol license for the event.
If you don’t want to go through the expense of changing out your venue to add a restaurant, kitchen and monthly food sales or a food truck, then the solution is to have the wedding party apply for and obtain a one-day banquet license. The cost of this license is $195 and that includes the application, the processing and making sure they get the one-day alcohol license in time for their event.
Another idea: If you want to operate your venue as an event venue that sells tickets to events, sells alcohol to the guests at a cash bar and make money in this way, another route is by obtaining a one-day alcohol license as a non-profit. What if you aren’t a non-profit? Should you get this status? Well, yes. With this non-profit status you can sell tickets and sell alcohol at a cash bar. ABC Consulting can help you get your non-profit designation and that license gives you a lot more freedom. We can help you through the process and help you know what to expect. For instance, there will be an investigation to make sure that your event does qualify for the one-day non-profit alcohol license. We will walk you through that application and process. In the end, YOU, as the venue, would apply for this license, not the people attending. We can help you apply for that license and get the non-profit designation status.
Any more questions? We welcome them. Let’s talk: 800-785-0161 Meanwhile, have a great day; thank you for watching; cheers!
*Disclaimer: This article and its contents represent the opinions of the author only and is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice. ABC Consulting is a private consulting firm, in way do we represent the VA ABC Authority. You should not act upon any such information without seeking qualified professional advice based upon your situation.