The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) offers a couple of different options for restaurants wanting a Texas liquor license or permit. However, all options available are considered “on-premise” permits, meaning you intend to sell alcohol directly to the consumer which will be consumed on the premises.
Before you can choose the best TABC permit for your location, you first need to confirm what types of liquor licenses or permits are available at your specific location. Cities, counties, and even precincts have the ability to hold local elections to restrict the types of permits allowed — and many have. An area in which liquor licenses are prohibited is often referred to as a “dry area.” Look for more information on dry areas in an upcoming blog.
Assuming you are in a “wet area” for all Texas liquor licenses and permits, your next step is deciding what types of alcohol you would like to serve to your customers. This will help you identify which of the on-premise retail liquor licenses or permits is best for your location: the Mixed Beverage Permit, the Wine and Beer Retailer’s Permit, or the Beer Retail Dealer’s On-Premise Permit.
Mixed Beverage Permit
A Mixed Beverage Permit (MB) is the only permit that allows you to sell all legal alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine, and distilled spirits, for on-premise consumption. If you intend to have a full bar, this is the permit that you need. It is the most expensive permit to hold as an on-premise retailer — the state fees for the initial permit total $6,602. The good news is that those fees reduce over time:
3rd and all Subsequent
Note, however, that certain violations associated with the permit could result in a reset of these fee reductions.
One unique requirement of this permit is that Mixed Beverage Permit holders must purchase all distilled spirits from a company that holds both the Package Store and Local Distributor’s Permits.
Another important requirement is that alcohol sold must be consumed on-premise. Customers are strictly prohibited from leaving the bar or restaurant with alcohol. One exception to this rule is when a customer orders a bottle of wine with their meal and does not finish it. In this instance, the customer may re-cork the wine and leave with the bottle. There are also some exceptions for Mixed Beverage Permit holders who also hold a Brewpub License and brew malt liquor, ale, or beer for off-premise consumption.
Wine and Beer Retailer’s Permit
The Wine and Beer Retailer’s Permit (BG) is a little bit different as it allows on-premise and off-premise consumption. The BG allows you to sell beer, wine, and malt liquors containing alcohol in excess of 0.5% by volume — but not more than 17% by volume — for on- or off-premise consumption. Also, for on-premise consumption only, you may sell traditional port or sherry containing alcohol in excess of 0.5% by volume but not more than 24% by volume.
The fees for the Wine and Beer Retailer’s Permit vary depending on which county your business is located. If you are in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, or Tarrant County, the fees are $2,553. If you are not in one of those counties, the fees are $903.
Note that with this permit you cannot restrict consumption to being off-premise. The Alcoholic Beverage Code specifically requires that the holder of a Wine and Beer Retailer’s Permit provide a seating area where customers can consume alcohol on-premise if they so desire.
Though the holder of a Wine and Beer Retailer is not authorized to purchase and sell distilled spirits, it may choose to allow customers to BYOB distilled spirits.
Finally, all permits that authorize the on-premise consumption of alcohol generally must hold a Conduct Surety Bond. The Wine and Beer Retailer’s Permit holder must additionally maintain a Performance Bond.
Beer Retail Dealer’s On-Premise License
The final option, the Beer Retail Dealer’s On-Premise License (BE), is similar to the Wine and Beer Retailer’s Permit as it allows on- and off-premise consumption. However, it only allows the license holder to sell beer.
The fees for this permit also vary depending on which county your business is located. If you are in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, or Tarrant County, the fees are $2,553. If you are not in one of those counties, the fees are $853.
Like the Wine and Beer Retailer’s Permit holder, the Beer Retail Dealer’s On-Premise License holder must keep a Performance Bond in addition to its Conduct Surety Bond.
There are several “secondary” permits and licenses available to these three “primary” retail liquor licenses or permits: a Food and Beverage Certificate, a Late Hours Permit, a Caterer’s Permit, a Beverage Cartage Permit, a Brewpub License, and a Private Carrier’s Permit. The TABC offers a description of each of these on its website here.
Each of these secondary permits offers additional benefits to the liquor license or permit holder, but these permits can also tack on additional requirements. For example, the holder of a Food and Beverage Certificate is exempt from the bond requirements described above, but also must meet certain requirements regarding food service. Stay tuned to our blog for a more in-depth description of these secondary permits.
Which Permit Do You Need?
Not sure what type of Texas liquor license or permit your establishment needs? Download our Permit Summary for a quick reference guide of all the licenses available in Texas to retail establishments, or set up a time for a free 15-minute consultation.