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Is Getting A Liquor License Really So Hard? Joe Keeper of Bar Keeper Elucidates

Ask any potential restaurant or bar owner what the most shudder-inducing phrase is and you can bet they'll say, "We're waiting on our liquor license."

Can getting a liquor license really be so hard?

Bar Keeper's Drunkard Window
Bar Keeper's Drunkard Window
Deborah Stoll

Here to shed some light on the subject is L.A.'s favorite barware owner, Joe Keeper of Bar Keeper in Silverlake. Currently in the thick of it, Joe is applying for a Conditional Use Permit, which, alongside his carefully cultivated selection of vintage barware, will allow him to sell boutique alcohols like Square One, Rittenhouse, Bols Genever and Absinthe.

Joe Keeper says:

Right now I think there are only fifteen liquor licenses available in L.A. County. You have to sign up for the lottery to get one and along with your application, hand over a check in the amount of twenty-five thousand dollars.

Then you have to give the city a plan of your space, in my case the shop, including the fixtures to show them where I'm planning on selling the alcohol.

Then I have to send out a notice to fifteen hundred of the neighborhood's residents to alert them of my plans.

Then I have to go to my neighborhood council with the CUP (Conditional Use Permit). There's a division that hears about change of use of anything in the neighborhood. I give a presentation and they give a recommendation.

Assuming it's a positive recommendation, I then have a general neighborhood council meeting, which is where the full battery of people who live in Silverlake have the opportunity to either support me or not.

Assuming I've made it all the way thru this process, which is anywhere from nine to fourteen months, the ABC (Alcohol and Beverage Control) comes out and looks at the location to make sure there aren't payphones on the premises, so that drug dealers and prostitutes remain deterred from hanging around.

If all is copasetic and I can come to terms with my landlord over my lease, for about seventy-five thousand dollars more, which includes contracts, expeditor fees, build-outs and inventory, I might get my liquor license.

To support Joe Keeper in his efforts to sell you boutique alcohol, stop by the shop and add your John Hancock to the petition.

Bar Keeper, 3910 W. Sunset Blvd., L.A., (323) 669-1675


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