Are you breaking the law when you serve your customers?
We’ve all done it. Ordered a bottle of wine with dinner and, finding ourselves at the end of the meal with an unfinished bottle, taken the remainder home with us. After all, we’ve paid for it; it’s ours. Shame to let good wine go to waste. Or we finish our meal and want to carry on the party at home. The bottle stores are closed. Surely we can buy a carry-out from the restaurant before we leave?
But now it’s your establishment and your liquor licence at stake. So while you may have every sympathy with your customers’ wishes, you will have to encourage them to drink up or leave the bottle behind. And you will have to refuse that request for a bottle or six to take home. If you don’t, you could face a hefty fine, lose your licence, and possibly even find yourself barred from applying for a liquor licence in future.
On Consumption licence – how to protect yourself
An On Consumption Liquor Licence allows you to sell alcohol for consumption on your premises but not for take-away purposes. The beer, wine or spirit must be opened and consumed in the establishment. The distinction between a drink at the bar and a carry-out is an obvious one and easy to police, but it may not be so obvious when a young patron slips a couple of bottles of Windhoek in his coat pockets for later. And it is blatantly in breach of the licence conditions to knowingly sell alcohol to be taken away.
So what can you do to protect yourself? Here are a few tips to help you stay on the right side of the law:
• Put up signs explaining why you cannot allow alcohol to leave the premises if you’ve been experiencing take-away requests
• Talk to your staff. Explain the type of licence you have and what the conditions are. Discuss the consequences of not complying with them. Remind staff that if you lose your licence they will be out of a job
• Make sure every bottle is opened before being served to the customer. This may be obvious, but reminding bar staff of this will pre-empt any potential take-away sales. They won’t be able to use ignorance as an excuse for breaking the law
• If you catch a customer tucking a bottle into a bag or pocket, act immediately. Be polite but firm in advising them that you are unable to allow alcohol to leave the premises
• Always ensure that you have the right licence for your specific type of business
What if I want to sell alcohol to be taken away?
If you want to sell alcohol to your customers for consumption away from your premises, you may choose to apply for an Off Consumption Liquor License. This will enable you to sell liquor to your customers without the provision for seating or allowing consumption on your premises. A typical example is a bottle store.
But you are more likely to want an On and Off Consumption Licence, which will allow you to sell alcohol for enjoyment on the premises and for taking away. A typical example of an establishment using this type of licence is a wine farm with a restaurant or tasting room. Customers can enjoy the product during their visit and purchase bottles to take home. More and more restaurants are also choosing to offer this service.
SD Law & Associates specialises in Western Cape Liquor Licence applications and can assist you with the following:
• Choosing the right type of licence
• Completing the application form
• Following up with the Western Cape Liquor Board on the progress of your application
If you are unsure about the type of licence you need, or whether your existing licence meets your current business requirements, speak to Simon now on 087 550 2740 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t let take-away alcohol take away your liquor licence.