Everything You Need to Know About Arizona Liquor License as a Bar or Restaurant Owner

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As an Arizona bar or restaurant owner, you know a liquor license is vital to have. Selling beer, wine, or spirits to guests typically accounts for a massive part of your bottom line. Without a liquor license, your business plan probably isn’t feasible.

Obtaining an Arizona Liquor license, though, isn’t exactly easy. Wading through government forms and fees is never fun, and small mistakes in the application process can cost significant amounts of money and time. So, it’s crucial to understand the law and licensing process before you begin.

How To Get a Liquor License in Arizona

Below, we’ll outline the requirements for obtaining a liquor license in Arizona. Keep in mind that it helps to have an expert on your side when navigating this area of the law. We can’t suggest you attempt to obtain a liquor license on your own.

By relying on the Arizona Bar and Restaurant Insurance team, you can ensure your business is protected and able to meet all of Arizona’s liquor license legalities.

Obtaining an Arizona Liquor License 

In Arizona, there are two ways to obtain a liquor license. You can purchase one from an individual who already has one and is willing to sell. Or, you can apply for a new license from the state’s Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC).

With most bars, breweries, and wineries, you’ll need to purchase the license from an individual. That’s because Arizona sets quotas on liquor licenses based on the area’s population. In other words, the state doesn’t issue new liquor licenses very often.

Restaurants, which serve food by definition, are the exception. As a restaurant owner, you may be able to apply for a new license from the state.

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Resident Agent

Regardless of whether you’re purchasing an existing license or applying for a new one, though, Arizona law requires that you be a resident. If you don’t live in Arizona or have yet to establish residency, you’ll need to use a resident agent or brokerage to facilitate the licensing process. 

Types of Liquor Licenses

Before starting the Arizona liquor license application process, you’ll need to determine the Arizona liquor license types your business needs. Most bars and restaurants will need one of the following liquor licenses in Arizona: 

  • Series 6 Liquor License Arizona (Bar): This license covers establishments that serve beer, wine, and spirits to customers on-site. It also covers the delivery of packaged beer and wine. The establishment doesn’t need to serve food of any kind.
  • Series 7 Liquor License Arizona (Beer and Wine): This license covers establishments that serve beer and wine but not spirits. The establishment doesn’t need to serve food. They may also sell beer and wine in packages and for delivery. So, this license covers most wineries and breweries. 
  • Series 12 Liquor License Arizona (Restaurants): This license covers establishments that serve beer, wine, and spirits as well as food. Food sales must make up at least 40% of total sales, and the licensee can expect regular audits to ensure the 40% requirement is being met. 

The Application Process

As a bar or restaurant owner, it’s crucial to understand that gaining a Arizona liquor serving license isn’t an overnight endeavor. It will take time, and you need to plan ahead. The application process can take anywhere from 65 to 105 days, and you’ll need more documentation than just the application. 

Typically, you’ll fill out and submit the Arizona liquor license application to the Department of Liquor License Control (DLLC). It will help to have an expert walk you through this process, as the application can be confusing. 

Then, the state will send you a notice of deficiency. That sounds worse than it is. The state just wants additional documentation before your application proceeds. Again, having an expert on your team can make gathering and sending any necessary documentation much easier. 

After that, you’ll undergo a complete DLLC investigation. Only after passing the investigation will you receive your liquor license. 

City Requirements

It’s important to know that there may be additional requirements that apply to your city as well. City laws often cover liquor licensing, and you may need to gain a use permit or certificate of occupancy along with an Arizona liquor license to operate in a specific city. 

Typical Costs

Liquor license fees vary greatly throughout the state. You can expect to spend at least $8k and upwards of $300k in certain areas. Speaking with an expert, like the insurance agents at Arizona Bar and Restaurant insurance, can help you better plan your liquor license budget. 

Maintaining Your Liquor License in Arizona

Once you acquire a liquor license, the work is far from done. Maintaining your license takes near-constant attention.

Staff Trainings

First, you’ll want to ensure that you train your staff correctly. You may want to include staff background checks in your hiring process, and you’ll also want to pay close attention to how much alcohol your customers are being served. If servers, bartenders, and hosts aren’t following Arizona liquor laws, you could easily have your license revoked.

Liability Insurance

Per Arizona law, you’ll also need liquor liability insurance. That’s why using an expert insurance agent throughout the liquor licensing process is a good idea. They can help you find the best policy for your bar or restaurant while guiding you through complex Arizona liquor laws.

Audits

As a restaurant, you can also expect regular liquor license audits. During these audits, you’ll need to show that your sales are at least 40% food. You may also need to show you have the correct number of cooks, servers, and staff. Plus, you’ll need to prove your kitchen is up to state standards.

Rely on The Experts for an Arizona Liquor License

The Arizona Bar and Restaurant Insurance team are experts in the Arizona hospitality realm. They’re more than insurance providers; they’re part of the community, and they genuinely care about the local bar and restaurant industry. 

That means they can help you navigate the somewhat perplexing process of obtaining an Arizona liquor license. This is an area you don’t want to tackle alone. Liquor licensing is vital to your business, and you’ll want expert help. 

So, if you’re a bar or restaurant owner who needs a liquor license in Arizona, give us a call. We’ll walk you through the process and help you avoid any pitfalls.