By: Adam H. Itzkowitz, Esq., Managing Partner of Itzkowitz Law, PLLC
In an apparent attempt to boost the city’s economy and to help restauranteurs, Downtown Orlando has enacted legislation which allows for smaller restaurants to obtain full liquor licenses, also known as 4COP SRX.
While each county in Florida has a different set of regulations, most counties in Florida require that an applicant for a special restaurant license, also known as SRX, be a bona fide restaurant consisting of a large amount of square feet, usually between 2,500 and 5,000 of floor space under a permanent cover, maintain seating for at least 150 patrons at one time and which derives at least 51% of its gross revenue from the sale of food and non-alcoholic beverages. Further, service of full course meals must be available at all times alcoholic beverages are being served in the establishment.
These requirements, most notably the size and seating requirements, are difficult for smaller restaurants to meet, and it often prevents those restaurants from getting a full liquor license. For most restaurants, the ability to offer and sell liquor is mandatory for their business and concept. These restrictions force smaller restaurants to make alternative plans to their business model, such as foregoing liquor sales, selling just beer and wine under a 2COP license, or purchasing a “Quota” license, which is quite expensive and difficult to obtain.
Downtown Orlando’s new law lessens the size requirements down to 1,800 covered square feet, and reduces the amount of patrons it must be able to sit and serve at one time to 80. The only other restrictions are that the establishment is located in the defined Downtown Orlando area, and the establishment derives at least 51% of its gross food and beverage revenue from the sale of food and non-alcoholic beverages during the first 60-day operating period and each 12-month operating thereafter.
While this is good news for smaller restaurants in Downtown Orlando, other cities and regions in Florida have different, and oftentimes more stringent, criteria. Before applying for a liquor license, signing a lease, purchasing a preexisting restaurant or purchasing a property for your restaurant use, it is highly advisable to retain experienced Florida alcohol beverage law legal counsel familiar with navigating through the nuanced zoning and alcohol beverage laws. Our firm has substantial experience in dealing with alcoholic beverages and can assist our clients in a multitude of liquor license issues, including, but not limited to:
- Obtaining the proper approvals from a local government.
- Obtaining a license from the Division.
- Purchasing and selling liquor licenses.
- Representation in any appeals or enforcement actions relating to zoning or licensure matters.
Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.