Outdoor Dining in Yellow May Require a Liquor License Extension

Tucker Arensberg, P.C.
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Tucker Arensberg, P.C.

Pennsylvania restaurants and diners alike rejoiced as Governor Wolf announced that outdoor dine-in service can resume in “yellow phase” counties, including Allegheny, beginning as soon as next Friday, June 5th. With this announcement, restauranteurs are scrambling to re-hire staff, revamp menus, and upgrade patio seating. In the hustle to re-open their doors, restaurants must be diligent to check liquor license dimensions that may not extend to outdoor seating areas.

Restaurants and retail foodservice businesses that own a liquor license should check with their liquor license counsel to confirm that outdoor seating areas are currently licensed with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.  The Board’s regulations prohibit the service or sale of alcoholic beverages in unlicensed areas.  Even an innocent mistake could result in a citation by the State Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement and steep fines.  

For the service or sale of alcoholic beverages to take place in a currently unlicensed area of a restaurant, the licensee must apply to the PLCB for an extension of premises.  A licensee’s application may request an extension of premises to include either the abutting and adjacent sidewalk or the immediate, abutting, adjacent and contiguous vacant land.

An application to the PLCB for an extension of premises includes, at a minimum, the following:

1.) Application fee to the PLCB of $220;

2.) Posting a PLCB orange placard at the premises for a period of at least 30-days;

3.) Floor plans with measurements of the extended area; and

4.) Copy of a valid health permit for the restaurant.

PLCB approval may be in the form of a new license, giving the additional address or a letter authorizing the use of the extended premises.    

The Governor’s Office in consultation with the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association has issued detailed guidelines for outdoor dine-in services that can be accessed here.

Each day counts when filing an extension of premises with the PLCB.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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