California Liquor Licenses and Permits
Brought to you by The American Liquor License Exchange 1-800-711-2114

How To: Lease a Business Location When Buying A Liquor License

The State of California, Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), the agency that actually controls the issuance of liquor licenses in California, allows you to apply for a liquor license, but only for a real, physical retail location. So, before applying for or purchasing a liquor license, you will need to have started the process of negotiating a location for your business.

Basic ABC Requirements for Controlling the Property

  1. Your proposed location for a license must be a commercial location (no residential units allowed).
  2. You must own the property for your proposed location or have a lease agreement with the landlord allowing you to control the proposed location.
  3. Your name as it appears on your property deed (if you own the property) or on the lease must be in the name of the entity (whether it be you as a sole proprietor, your corporation, partnership or a Limited Liability Company) who will apply with ABC for the liquor license.

    In other words, if your lease is between Worldwide Property Holdings (owner/landlord) and Fine Dining, Inc. (your restaurant), ABC won't allow you make an application for the liquor license under your personal name. You would need to apply as Fine Dining, Inc., or ask your landlord to assign the lease back to you under your personal name.

When making an application for an alcohol license, ABC will require proof that have control over your proposed business. If you don’t currently own or lease a location, before applying for your license with ABC, you will need to either:

  • sign a lease for a business location or
  • draft a letter of intent with a prospective landlord to lease a commercial location.

You will need to provide ABC with a copy of your lease or letter of intent in order to process your license application.

Tip: In order to help reduce your financial exposure, we recommend that you sign your lease so that it is subject to the final approval of your liquor license application.

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Give us a call today 1-800-711-2114 to discuss your project. Ask for our licensing expert, Jon Mejia, who has over 35 years of experience with California liquor license applications.