I didn’t start out doing liquor licenses. I owned a bar on Long Island from 2006-2011. In 2008, three knuckleheads who worked for me put my license in jeopardy by ignoring their training about verifying ages of customers. I handled it (there was a fine), but realized that many liquor license holders don’t realize the awesome powers the state has over their livelihoods.

Fast forward to 2020. Although you generally have to really work hard to lose your NYS liquor license, the pandemic has made it easier. Not one to skip a chance to grab more power for himself, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared that the state has the right to yank your license on the spot – due process be damned — if you violate his executive orders in the wake of the virus. The man who sent thousands of healthy people back to nursing homes where they did think his due process suspensions for liquor license holders trump the state Alcoholic Beverage Law and the state Administrative Procedure Act.

Maybe he’s right. Do you want to pay a lawyer $15,000 to find out? I didn’t think so.

My advice to you:

1. Visit this website regularly for updates on guidance from the NYS Liquor Authority on the new rules, which are constantly changing;

2. Make sure your managers and staff know the rules and the consequences to their jobs if they put your license in jeopardy;

3. Make sure you post the rules clearly and let customers know what they are;

4. Enforce a zero-tolerance policy for staff and customers alike;

5. If the police or the SLA come sniffing around, get a name and phone number. And then call me!

I don’t like the way the Governor is talking and I don’t like the knee-jerk way in which the Members of the NYS Liquor Authority are summarily suspending licenses. Having said that, if I still owned my bar I wouldn’t want to poke these particular bears too hard. It can be a long time before you get your license back and will cost you a lot of money and aggravation.

Be well. Be safe!

John Springer
NY Liquor License Specialist
PHONE: (631) 331-3334