New “Conditional Liquor License” Law Could Keep New Restaurants Competitive

Restaurant, bar, and brew pub owners could see some relief from their traditionally long wait to obtain a liquor license under a law passed by a northern Michigan representative.

Representative Ray Franz (R-Onekema) ushered a bill through the legislature late last year that would allow a liquor license applicant to file for a “conditional liquor license” that would allow the applicant to begin serving alcohol at their establishment while the application for their initial license is being processed. The conditional license would be valid for one year, or until the initial license application is approved or denied, whichever happens earliest. The new law would also apply to applicants seeking a transfer of ownership in an existing liquor license at the same location.

This new law will help to alleviate an issue many bar, restaurant and brewpub owners have had with long waits associated with receiving a liquor license from state regulators. Many times an establishment will have to wait anywhere between six months to a full year before their liquor license is approved. That means six months to a year of trying to operate their business without a bar or restaurant’s largest income generator. In extreme instances, some establishments have had to close their business while waiting for their license to be processed because they could not generate enough revenue without the sale of alcohol. By being able to apply for and receive a conditional license while the owner waits for their original liquor license to be processed or transferred, they will not have to lose precious operating income by waiting for months while their license application is processed. This will, hopefully, keep more northern Michigan’s bars and restaurants in businesses and help them to succeed, rather than hindering their start up and growth.

The law will take effect starting the end of May 2014. The Alliance will follow up with more information as we get closer to the law going into effect. For more information or assistance, please contact Director of Government Relations Kent Wood at or 231-995-7109.

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