Applying for a Liquor License in DeKalb

[Correction 2/10: It is the liquor commissioner (mayor) who issues liquor licenses, not the city clerk. See this post for more information.]

If your inner entrepreneur is telling you that bar ownership in DeKalb is worthy of some capital, here are a few things you need to know about obtaining a liquor license for your business. (Keep in mind, these tips are no substitute for professional legal counsel.)

Bona fide sale. Bona fide sale shall mean a sale of a liquor business for real value where the sale includes the purchase of fixtures, equipment, good will or the like. Such sale shall not include the liquor license.

Even in buying an existing business, then, you must start from scratch with the liquor license application. Licenses are not transferable.

A significant and potentially time-consuming part of the process is to ensure you are not a crook [insert joke here about limiting competition — bah-dum-bum!] and that you have the money to prove it.

Applications for a retail liquor dealer’s license shall be made to the Liquor Commissioner in writing; signed by the applicant, if an individual or by a partner, if a partnership, or by a duly authorized agent thereof, of a club, corporation or limited liability company, verified by oath or affidavit. Applications shall be accompanied with a non-refundable application fee of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) plus a fingerprint fee of Sixty Two Dollars ($62.00) for each individual, partner, manager or corporation stockholder owning in the aggregate more than five percent (5%) of the stock or a member of a limited liability company holding in an aggregate more than a five percent (5%) interest in the company.

I’ve heard the police chief say at council meetings that the background check takes about 30 days. Add to that the time required to complete the investigative report.

The application for an initial liquor license shall be forwarded to the Chief of Police. It shall be the duty of the Chief of Police to cause an investigation of such applicant and to issue a written report to the Liquor Commissioner, as to the applicant’s character, within sixty (60) days, when practicable. No license shall be issued or reissued until such report has been completed and filed with the Liquor Commissioner.

Once the investigative report is finished, the liquor commission takes a look at everything.

d) The Commission shall have and exercise the following duties and powers:
1. To review applications and the investigation of applicants for liquor licenses and to submit findings and recommendation to the local Liquor Commissioner setting forth its conclusions regarding such applications.

The commission gives its recommendation and the liquor commissioner rules on whether to grant the license. If the license is granted, the commissioner directs the city clerk to issue the license.

The liquor commission normally meets monthly, bringing the process potentially to about three months in length even if you encounter no snags.

The point is, start early! Don’t wait until you are ready to order the booze to submit your application!

Cheers and good luck!