Restaurants have long LBD process

By Thomas Wilson
star staff

  With a majority of Elizabethton voters electing to get their whistles wet in Tuesday's city election, restaurants that sell mixed drinks on premises are now legally welcomed within the city limits.
  While the city government controls zoning and land use for businesses, the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) regulates the sale and licensing of liquor-by-the-drink for restaurants and other entities involved in the sale or distribution of mixed drinks.
  Effective July 1, 2004 the commission began requiring liquor-by-the-drink (LBD) applicants to pay a $300 non-refundable fee to initiate the application process.
  Restaurants pay annual fees of $600 to $1,050 depending on an established seating capacity range to obtain an LBD license from the commission. Other venues such as historic centers, hotels/motels, aquariums, and special events may also receive LBD licenses with an approved application and payment of appropriate fees.
  A beverage purveyor serving liquor in a private club pays a fee of $500, according to the ABC.
  Tennessee Code Annotated also sets forth minimum requirements for any restaurant seeking an LBD license. State law requires a restaurant be a public place kept, used, maintained, advertised and held out to the public as a place where meals are regularly served. The establishment can have no sleeping accommodations, must be supplied with an adequate and sanitary kitchen and dining room equipment, have seating capacity of at least 75 tables, and serve at least one meal a day four days a week. The restaurant must also maintain food service as the principal business conducted.
  Purveyors of potent potables also must complete a series of applications and exercises in accordance with state law and regulated by the commission. An applicant must obtain a sales tax number and bond form from the Tennessee Department of Revenue.
  Other required forms that applicants for a restaurant LBD license must complete for the TABC include:
  * A standard, notarized application form filled out completely and turned into this office at least three weeks in advance. Applications are reviewed every Tuesday each week. Once the application is approved and an LBD bond from the Department of Revenue has been obtained, a restaurant can receive the license the following day.
  * Questionnaires provided by the commission must be filled out by all owners, partners, officers, managers and/or any persons who own five percent or more in the corporation or the business.
  * Permits are required for all employees who serve liquor to the public. Employees must be 18 years of age to serve liquor and must obtain an employee work permit card through TABC. A server's permit costs $5 per card. After receiving their temporary permit card, a server has 30 days to take a server training class to receive their permanent card, which is good for three years from the temporary date. This fee can only be paid by company check, cashier's check or money order.
  * A price schedule of drinks being served at the establishment must be provided to the commission.
  * A lease, deed, or other documentation proving the applicant is leasing or in possession of the property must be provided.
  * If the applicant is a corporation, a limited liability company, or formal partnership, the entity's charter issued by the state of Tennessee must be included. If a company holds an out-of-state charter, approval to do business in Tennessee must be obtained from the Secretary of State's office. If a corporation is registered out-of-state, then a copy of that charter is also to be furnished.
  * A separate list of officers (with their titles) and owners with 5 percent or more of ownership, and the amount of percentage, needs to be furnished with the application.
  * A use and occupancy approval letter must be submitted to the local building codes department in the city or county where the establishment is located.
  * A printed menu from the restaurant must be provided.
  * An inspection of the restaurant by a TABC representative is made after an application has been submitted to the commission office and the establishment is completely ready to open for business.
  * The commission also requires an applicant to pay the same licensing fee to the local county clerk's office, after the applicant has received a license from the TABC office.
  * An applicant must obtain and complete a federal form to sell liquor for submission to the Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms with an annual fee of $250.
  * After application materials have been turned into this office and the establishment is completely open for business, a TABC agent will inspect the premises.