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What Is The Difference Between A Restaurant Wine License & A Tavern Wine License?

People are sometimes confused about the difference between a RESTAURANT WINE LICENSE (R/W) and a TAVERN WINE LICENSE (T/W).

Both licenses fall under the category of on-premises licenses. They are licenses for premises in which alcohol is both purchased and consumed on the premises.

restaurant wine license is for a premises that sells wine and beer, but not liquor, for consumption on the premises and where food is prepared in such quantities that the sale of wine and beer is not the primary source of revenue. This means that the primary business of the premises is selling food, and alcohol is a secondary consideration. This license is for a full service restaurant with suitable kitchen facilities to prepare and serve a full menu of food and also sells wine and beer but not liquor. The restaurant can sell beer, wine, wine products and cider to be consumed on the premises, and they can sell beer to be consumed off the premises. This is sometimes referred to as “beer to go”. A patron may leave the premises with an unfinished bottle of wine that they purchased with a meal.

A tavern wine license allows the sale of wine and beer but not liquor for on premises consumption. This license is for establishments that do not operate as restaurants with a full kitchen. The premises does not need to have suitable kitchen facilities but must have a good food preparation area and serve substantial food (i.e., sandwiches, wings, pizza, burgers, etc.). A tavern can sell beer, wine, wine products and cider for on-premises consumption and they can sell “beer to go”.

So you can see that the major distinction between a restaurant wine license and a tavern wine license is the sale of food. With one, food sales are the primary source of income, and with the other, food sales are the secondary source of income.

Questions such as this one demonstrate the need to consult a professional when considering opening, buying or investing in a retail or wholesale liquor business.

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