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The Benefits of a Premises Licence

Can I run a restaurant without the benefit of a Premises Licence?

Q:  I have made an application to my local authority for a new premises licence. The application has received several representations and is scheduled to be heard by the licensing sub-committee shortly. I am very keen for my proposed restaurant to succeed whether with the benefit of a premises licence or without. My business partner already operates a licensed premises within the area and he has advised that I may still be able to operate without the benefit of a premises licence. Is this permissible and if so, what would my options be?

A:  So far as alcohol goes you only require a premises licence if you are selling alcohol – not for consumption. The essential point to note is that it is where the sale of alcohol takes place that needs to be authorised i.e. where the alcohol is specifically selected following an order. One option would be for your customers to order their alcohol from your partner’s premises, as long as this premises has off-sales authorised and no relevant conditions. The alcohol would need to be marked up specifically for each customer. 

I would also add that you would not be allowed to buy alcohol in bulk from your business partner’s premises and keep it at your restaurant. 

Another option is that there is nothing prohibiting you allowing customers to bring in their own alcohol and you charging them corkage for supplying them with clean glasses and opening bottles. You should remember that although you are not selling them the alcohol you are still responsible for their behaviour whilst they are at the premises and when they leave. If they do consume too much alcohol then you may still be responsible in the unlikely event of an incident of disorder arising from alcohol.  You do also have the option of 15 Temporary Event Notices per calendar year as well. These can be used to hold one-off licensable events at premises without the need for a premises licence. There are certain criteria that must be met and I would advise you to obtain legal advice.  Please note though that should you wish to sell hot food and hot drink between 11pm and 5am to your customers you will need a premise licence for the provision of late night refreshment as this is a licensable activity.  Having said all of this, it would of course make everything a whole lot easier for you to operate should the sub-committee grant the application allowing for the sale of alcohol at the premises.

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