For most bars and restaurants, new or old, the most important and essential licence in their business is their liquor sales licence.  While most bars, restaurants, lounges and night clubs may be known for their food, ambiance, clientele and reputation, without a liquor sales licence those admirable qualities may be left unrecognized and their establishment less frequented.

In Ontario, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (“AGCO”) is the regulatory authority responsible for issuing a liquor sales licence, and any applicant for a licence will need to satisfy the requirements of the Liquor Licence Act (“LLA”) and regulations.  Satisfaction with those requirements necessary for a licence will be confirmed by the AGCO.

Only owners of a business are able to apply for a liquor sales licence.  While your business does not need to be involved primarily in the service of food and alcohol, it must be open to the public or private members.  Licences are not issued to private residences.

All applicants must prepare an application with the requisite application fee for a liquor sales licence.  There are also disclosure requirements that will need to be satisfied.  Specifically, an applicant for a licence will provide and disclose information regarding their business and/or corporation and disclose all those individuals or corporations who hold 10% or more of the shares of the applicant business.  Applicants must also provide personal disclosure for all officers/directors of a corporation, partners, shareholders, on-site managers and other individuals with an interest in the business.

Each applicant will also provide to the AGCO a floor plan of the premises proposed to be licenced and a calculation of capacity.  The most appropriate and efficient manner in which to satisfy this part of the application is for the applicant to engage a professional engineer in accordance with the LLA to stamp and sign their plans.

Finally, there are other documents that will accompany an application.  First, a municipal information form will be required from your local municipality.  This form states that the municipality approves of the issuance of the licence.  Second, an application will also need to obtain compliance letters from the Building Department, the Fire Marshall or Fire Protection Officers, and Public Health Department, to ensure that the premises proposed for the licence meets the current standards and by-laws administered by each agency.

When a liquor sales licence has been issued by the AGCO, there is a notice period.  This is the time when applicants are provided with a placard which is posted for a specified number of days on the premises where members of the public can read it from outside.

The foregoing provides with a broad overview of the application process.  The landscape with respect to licensing is ever evolving and it is important that applicants for licences get it right the first time and seek the proper and appropriate advice.

Chand & Co. has successfully assisted thousands of restaurants, bars, lounges and night clubs in securing their first liquor sales licences, mini bar licences, liquor sales endorsements, licence transfers, and extensions of hours.  Take the first important step in securing your licence and consult with one of Chand Snider’s lawyers today.

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