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The Alcoholic Beverage Control Law (ABC LAW) prohibits the State Liquor Authority (SLA) from issuing a retail license for the for the sale and/or consumption of liquor for any premises that is on the same street and within two hundred feet of a building occupied exclusively as a school or place of worship.

As with other ABC provisions, there are certain statutory exceptions that allow a retail license to be issued. The one that I would like to discuss here is known as the Grandfather Exception.

The Grandfather Exception in the case of the 200 Foot Law has two separate provisions:

  • A. A license that was in effect on December 5, 1933 may continue to be renewed even if the location is now subject to the 200 Foot Law.
  • B. A license will not be denied to a premise if it’s current license has been continually in existence since before the school or church came into existence. In other words, if a licensed premises was there before the school or church, the 200 Foot Law does not apply.

I represented a client that wanted to lease and obtain a new license for a premise that had been a licensed restaurant from 2003 until 2011. Prior to that it had been a licensed restaurant from 1994 until 2003. The SLA had no record regarding that location prior to 1994. However, there was now a school on the same street less than 200 feet away.

I argued that the school had not opened until 2006. The building that housed the school had been a warehouse and in 1986 had become a one-year program transition school for immigrant students. In 2003 the school became a four-year high school. A final Certificate of Occupancy was not issued to the school until 2006.

I submitted an affidavit from the landlord stating that he has owned the premises where my client wanted to open a restaurant since 1980, and his only tenants since that time have continually been restaurants with liquor licenses.

The SLA ruled that the premises had been properly licensed in the past, and based upon the evidence that I submitted, the premises had been continually licensed since 1980. They further ruled that the school had not existed until 1986.

My client was allowed to apply for a retail license for the sale and/or consumption of alcohol at that location, and he was granted that license.

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