What an amazing trip!
Anthony from One Stop Brew Shop is a heck of a guy! We had a lengthy conversation about all aspects of the business on Saturday and he was so honest and candid. It was refreshing to be welcomed with such excitement and positivity. I learned a lot and got answers to so many of the questions I had, but now I have four times as many…
One of the first questions I asked was about licensing. I really want to know what licenses I need to do exactly what I want to do in NY. The answer: C license.
Here is the kicker: NY State does not grant C licenses anymore. THIS is why there is a huge need for bottle shops in NY. The state makes it so dang hard to open one!
If I decide that a C license is really the only thing I want to run my business I could find someone with an existing C license and purchase it from them. Anthony said that these used to run at about $20,000 four years ago and about $40,000 two years ago. If that trend continues, I am looking at $60,000 just to obtain the piece of paper that says I can operate in NY. That doesn’t include the $30,000 in inventory that I will have to purchase to open doors or the building, or insurance, or industrial refrigerators, or shelving, or… or… or…
(After a brief search online I found a couple for sale for about $150,000. I think I am going to need some help finding out what is really out there.)
Alright, so what are some other options for New York State licenses:
Beer Eating Place – “For on-premises (consumption on the premises) beer. Food must be prepared and served on the premises to satisfy the SLA. Beer may ALSO be sold for off-premises consumption (take out)” per the State Liquor Authority.
Anthony had a funny story for this one. He said that one of the places in New York fulfilled the food requirements by having a freezer of empanadas in the back and a microwave to cook them in. Obviously these were not going to be big sellers, but it checked the box. Joel and I joked of having a hot dog spinning around in one of those warmers to fulfill this requirement. Not sure how far you can push this license, but it might be worth looking into.
Grocery Beer – “Off-premises beer license. Additionally a “wine product” is defined as a beverage containing wine with added juice, flavoring, water, citric acid, sugar and carbon dioxide, not containing more than six percent alcohol by volume (typically referred to as “wine coolers”)”per the state liquor authority.
This brief description from the State Liquor Authority is pretty vague, but we are under the impression that if you do a grocery beer license you have to dedicate HALF of your space to groceries and can only use HALF for the beer. This is a huge bummer to me since I feel like that would detract from the beer and the whole feel of the place. I MIGHT entertain this idea if I had two separate rooms and could visually keep them apart. The other thing is, that would just be more for me to manage, maintain, and pay for when it is not what I want to do. Also, I am not sure if we could do growler fills with this license or not. I am really interested in doing those. It is good profit margin and helps build customer loyalty through the interactions of tastings.
What it boils down to is:
-Can I find someone who would be willing to sell me a C license?
-Am I willing to fork over that kind of capital or should I make one of the other options work for now and keep the C license on the back burner?
Lots to think about.