What is the Difference Between a Restaurant and a Bar Liquor License?

There is a very distinct difference between a California liquor license for a restaurant and a bar, although there can sometimes be some confusion with applicants.  In an effort to clear any such confusion, we would like to define the characteristics of each.

A restaurant must be open for the primary purpose of serving food to the public for compensation.  Restaurants would have the proper kitchen equipment for cooking and storing food and must actually make food sales.  They can not simply offer food along side their alcohol service, but rather the vast majority of their sales must be food. In addition, they are required to be open set hours- minimally five days per week.  Perhaps most significantly, restaurants must meet all state and local health department requirements and submit themselves to regular inspections.

In contrast, a bar with a public premises license has the primary function of selling alcohol for consumption on site.  Bars will often offer a limited food menu served in conjunction with their alcohol sales but this is not required.  It is worth noting that bar licenses may often be more difficult to obtain as they typically run into more scrutiny and objection by neighbors, the community, and the ABC.  An extra measure of due diligence is definitely needed by the bar license applicant and this is where services such as that offered by Alcoholic Beverage Consulting Service are extremely valuable.

Finally, it is also important to remember that state law allows minors to be present at a business with a restaurant license but all persons within a bar must be age 21 or older.

Please view the video below for more information and call our office if you have specific questions or need assistance.


Filed under: ABC licensee education, Liquor License California

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  • <strong>John Maino</strong>, President, Ironfire Brewing Company

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