What is a COOP? Do you need one?

Crystal Stump (owner and CEO of ABC Consulting and former Virginia ABC Special Agent from the Alcohol Beverage Control Authority) explains what a COOP is, in the state of Virginia, in the eyes of the VA ABC Authority.

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

A COOP is relatively new, in the state of Virginia – it has only been in place for a few years. Let me get right to it: a COOP, Continuation of Operations Permit. This is issued by the state of Virginia to an applicant. It gives permission to use a currently active license, in the same location, while the individual is applying for their own license.

Why would you need a COOP, in place? The ABC Authority issues licenses to entities. They also license specific locations. You cannot move a license to a new location. Let’s say you want to move your business or sell your business, but, now there is a new person that wants to open their business in your location. There is another video for what you need to know before you apply for a license and why you need a legal entity, here. A legal entity name is the name that you register with the State Corporation Commision. The video discusses the difference in your personal name, your trade name and your legal entity. You should watch it – a tiny mistake like that can hold up licensing.

So, back to having over someone else’s space, with your own legal entity, without using their branding or business name/legal entity. You must apply for your own license. If you are taking over the space, your license is issued to your entity. A new license needs to be issued in the new entity’s name, that is coming into the space. It takes about 45-90 days to get an alcohol license. You, as a new business, wouldn’t want that downtime in alcohol sales, while waiting for a new license. So, you’d apply for a COOP. This allows the old license to be used, while waiting for approval on the new license.  ABC Consulting can help you get this COOP and help you apply for your permanent license.

There is another video that goes into the details of how long it takes to get a license. Watch that video, too. But, the beautiful thing about the COOP is that you can continue to sell alcohol, while you are going through the application process. A COOP can be beneficial if you don’t what the public to know that there has been a change. Let’s say you’re going to keep the trade name, but the entity is changing. You will have to do a 3-day objection period notice, but you can do that. If the current licensee is willing to sign a document saying that the taxes are all up to date (or there is a plan in place to pay those taxes) and that there are not pending charges, on the current license, you can apply for a COOP. It is possible that the current licensee isn’t aware of current charges. For instance, if there is an MBAR violation or an undercover investigation that the current licensee is unaware of, they wouldn’t be able to tell you about those pending charges. But, please do ask these questions, before applying for a COOP permit.

When you submit your new application, you’ll also apply for your COOP permit, at the same time. You’ll be able to show that your new entity is taking over the space and that you’ll be in total control of alcohol sales. If there any ABC violations after the COOP is formed, you will be responsible for those violations. If someone sells to an underage person, you’ll be held responsible. The original owner may think they’re going to be held liable, but they won’t. You are.  But the good news about the COOP – you can take right over, with zero downtime. This COOP can be good for about 180 days, and in some cases it can be extended, but you want to try to get your license, as soon as possible. Pending licenses can cause problems and you don’t want any violations or get called to a hearing while you are in a COOP. This can delay licensing, indefinitely. This looks like you couldn’t operate in a compliant manner, in the application process, while in the COOP.

Perhaps you don’t want to consider a COOP. The worst thing that can happen without a COOP is that you cannot sell alcohol. If you are closing for some minor renovations and upgrades and have a grand opening, you’ll need some downtime, anyway.

Remember these points

  • A license is issued to entities
  • A license is issued to a specific location
  • A COOP can help make a transition seamless, if you don’t want any downtime in alcohol sales

If you need help creating a COOP or applying for a license, please reach out. That is what we are here for. Click here to get to our website, click on retail license application, and that will give us the information necessary for us to send you an estimate (how much the license will be and what services we’ll provide). Remember the license charges can change depending on which license you are applying for. There are so many different and specialized license types, but it is our job to help you figure out which one to apply for. We’ll help you all the way from filling out the application until it is finished and submitted. Once your licensed (45-90 days), we can you help you file your reports, direct you to a ratio calculator to make sure your ratios of food to alcohol are compliant, and answer any questions. Our entire team is well versed in the laws, regulations, and changes at VA ABC Authority.

There are several steps that need to happen in order for this COOP to be legal.

  1. The current (old owner) licensee needs to approve and sign the COOP, in front of a notary.
  2. The landlord needs to give permission for this to happen – and there needs to be a lease agreement proved as part of the application or a reassignment of the lease as part of the COOP agreement. 
  3. There can be no VA ABC Authority violations.
  4. There can be no outstanding taxes due.

We’d love to help you with this COOP application and your alcohol license application. If you have any questions about applying, that is what we’re here for! If you haven’t subscribed to our channel, please do! And if you are already enjoying this 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 this channel!

Please subscribe to our YouTube Channel if this think this information is valuable and worth watching. Watch our videos for the most common discussions and mistakes relating to Alcohol Licensing in the state of Virginia. I am not an attorney, but I will give you the benefit of my experience, my opinions of things, and things to think about or to watch out for. Of course, I strive for consistency through our website and any videos or social-media posts. There are nine regions throughout the state of Virginia. They are tasked with enforcing regulations – it is possible that you hear or read a difference in regulations between coastal Virginia, western Virginia or northern Virginia. But, do let me know if you see an inconsistency, because that is a conversation that needs to be had. And if you still have questions, after visiting our application, we welcome the call to walk through this with you, over the phone; let’s talk: 800-785-0161

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