Sign a Lease or Take Control of Property

In order to apply for your California liquor license (this applies to all states), you must have a signed lease or a Letter of Intent (LOI) with a commercial property owner. The Alcoholic Beverage Control department will not accept an application that does not have a signed lease or, at the very least, an LOI. Getting a California liquor license requires that you comply with all regulations, and having a lease zoned for Commercial Use is a major part of the process.

Your lease can be in the name of an individual, a partnership, a corporation or an LLC. It’s important that the name that appears on the lease and the name under which you apply for your California liquor license match. It’s advisable that you have your attorney review your lease and that you include a clause that makes the lease ‘subject to approval of liquor license’. While the vast majority of license applications are approved, this process is by no means guaranteed, therefore, it’s wise to have an out on your lease in the unlikely event that your application is denied.

Also, as the approval process can take 60-90 days, or longer if protested, be sure you negotiate as much free rent as possible with your landlord. If free rent is not available, ask for a reduced rate until your California liquor license has been approved and activated.

Remember, being approved as a holder of a California liquor license is a privilege for which you must be approved, it is not a guaranteed right.

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