Published on:

NY SLA Lawyer Guest Q&A: How to obtain a liquor license for a restaurant in New York & What is the 200 Foot Rule?

We are pleased to continue our guest blog series on a topic that we have been getting many questions. Our Westchester County and New York Lawyers have helped many applicants ranging from restaurants to liquor stores obtain their liquor license in an expedited manner.

above-the-bar-logo.jpgFAQ: I am planning to open up a restaurant in Nyack, New York and need a liquor license to serve beer, wine, and alcohol. What is the quickest way to get a license?

In order to serve beer, wine, and alcohol at your restaurant, you need to apply for an on-premises liquor license. The New York State Liquor Authority (“SLA”) allows an attorney who has reviewed an on premises liquor license application and its supporting documents to submit an Attorney Certification Form, which can expedite the processing of your application. In other words, if you submit an Attorney Certification along with your application, your application processing time may be reduced by months. Depending on the facts of your specific application, our attorneys can advise you of the best approach.

FAQ: What is the 200 Foot Rule and how do I measure the distance from my restaurant to a nearby school to determine if I am in compliance?

Before settling on a place to open a liquor store or a restaurant where you plan to serve alcohol, make sure you are in compliance with the 200 Foot Rule. The Rule provides that if the location of your establishment is on the same street and within 200 feet of a building that is used only as a school, church, synagogue or other place of worship, the SLA will not issue certain types of licenses. This Rule applies to any retail establishment where liquor will be sold for consumption on the premises and any retail establishment where liquor or wine will be sold for consumption off the premises.

If the Rule applies to your location, the SLA does not have the power to approve your application, even if the school or place of worship consents to the license being issued. In the event a license was somehow issued in violation of this Rule, the SLA cannot allow it to continue when the license comes up for renewal. The exceptions to the Rule are as follows:

  • The establishment has been in operation since December 5, 1933;
  • The SLA can renew the license and approve applications to transfer ownership if the location was licensed before the school or place of worship was in existence;
  • If a hotel has an existing “RL” (restaurant liquor), it may get a “HL” (hotel liquor) license;
  • If the club seeking the license is affiliated with the school or place of worship, then it may obtain a “CL” (club liquor) license;
  • A legitimate theater operated by a not-for-profit organization; or
  • The SLA may allow a licensee to move a licensed premise that has an exception to another location within 200 feet of the school or place of worship if the new location is not closer than the old location.

Measuring 200 Feet

It is extremely important that you take accurate measurements if you are planning to obtain a license for a premises that is near a school or place of worship. Take the measurement in a straight line, from the center of the nearest entrance of the school or place of worship to the center of the nearest entrance of your restaurant. If the restaurant, school, or place of worship has more than one entrance or exit, use the one that is regularly used to give ingress. For example, if measuring the distance to a school, use the entrance the students regularly use to enter and exit the building, not the emergency or fire exit, or the entrance used for maintenance access. If your restaurant is located on the 3rd floor of a building, then you would measure from the building entrance at street level. Given the significance of this rule, it is advisable that you consult our Liquor License Attorneys to ensure that your restaurant is in compliance with this Rule.

Obtaining a liquor license in New York has become a very complicated matter. The application itself can be very overwhelming. Although you can fill out it yourself, it is advisable to have one of our experienced attorneys guide you through the process. Any missing or incorrect information could lead to delay or your application being rejected. Call our New York Liquor License Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help you obtain your liquor license without any delays.


Thank you for visiting our Blog. This blog provides general information and thoughts about various employment law issues primarily in the New York Tri-State area and occasionally in other areas. You are welcome to read the posts. However, do not construe any content on this blog as legal advice or the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Again, we provide the content only for informational purposes. You should not make decisions based information on our blog since the application of the law depends on the facts and each situation may be different. In addition, the law in most jurisdictions is different and changes constantly and we make no representations that any information on our blog has been updated. The Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from an experienced employment law attorney in your state or jurisdiction.

Contact Information