New Jersey applies new restrictions on food sales and special events at breweries

Discussion in 'US - Northeast' started by ESHBG, Jul 2, 2022.

  1. ESHBG

    ESHBG Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Y'all's laws are getting stranger than ours here in PA :stuck_out_tongue:
  2. DrederickTatum

    DrederickTatum Dec 13, 2016 New Jersey

    The restaurant lobby in this state is powerful. Why focus on getting better when you can just pay to hold back everyone else?
  3. schteve

    schteve Sep 10, 2003 New Jersey

    Also doesn't help that there are 2 different brewers groups and don't have a united front against legislation like this. When even the brewers have different agendas it's tough to work towards a common goal. Especially if one of the 2 deem it less important than the other.
    Resistance88 likes this.
  4. Shyla987

    Shyla987 Jul 18, 2013 Connecticut

    This is crazy:

    the state has been caught in a tussle between restaurant owners, who must pay hefty fees to get a liquor license, and brewery owners, who pay a lesser fee to only brew and sell beer. In short: some restaurant owners think breweries, by becoming hangout spots, are encroaching on their business. And because restaurant owners paid top dollar — sometimes up to $1 million for a liquor license — they feel entitled to certain privileges.

    A liquor license for a restaurant could be $1 million? I just read up on how to get a liquor license in NJ and that is an archaic system. So I can see how restaurants would be unhappy since it's not a level playing field. Absolutely sucks for the breweries, and think these new restrictions are ridiculous, but can sort of see the other side too.
  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

  6. Xerlic

    Xerlic Aug 26, 2016 New York
    Society Trader

    Yep. Many restaurants in NJ are BYOB. This can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. Most breweries are also BYOF.
    Shyla987 likes this.
  7. stairway2heavn

    stairway2heavn Aug 17, 2017 New Jersey

    Anecdotally, I can say BYOBs struggle a lot more in NJ unless they are takeout friendly (which means lower margins/different type of menu). This goes for well to do suburbs and Jersey City/Hoboken. I mean we've all seen Bar rescue at some point. Drinks are big margins (ok ok, $15 cocktails, not draft beer). Liquor license restrictions sound good, in a sense. It's money for a town and limits where alcohol is served. But now it's all sunk cost, and if you have one, and some brewery down the road is having a food truck and slinging drinks, it's a big concern. They're never getting that money back so I guess this battle will rage on.
    Rug likes this.
  8. Coldbeernicus

    Coldbeernicus May 7, 2017 Antarctica

    I get this argument. But it also discounts the huge cost that a brewery lays out for brewing equipment. That can easily exceed the cost of a liquor license.
    sulldaddy, jmdrpi and galttfwo like this.
  9. Newport_beerguy

    Newport_beerguy Feb 24, 2011 Rhode Island

    Yup, my nephew who works at Monmouth U brought us to this great small Thai place that was BYOB out of necessity, apparently. We were stopping that one meal passing from MD back to RI, and I just brought some Diamondback beer and to-go from Max's in Fells Point to enjoy. So i could have had 2 beers (local NJ brewers most likely) taxed in NJ but their arcane laws prevent that.

    My 2 beers don't mean a great deal, but once you have thousands of pass through trips with "foreign" liquor being used at these BYOB establishments, then you see how these prohibitive license fees may negatively impact the local beverage producers.
    Sheppard likes this.
  10. stairway2heavn

    stairway2heavn Aug 17, 2017 New Jersey

    Yeah, but it doesn't change the potential reduced business of a restaurant that bought a license. Not blaming breweries, but it's the logical outcome of the regulations in place.
  11. Flashy

    Flashy Oct 22, 2003 Vermont

    kinopio likes this.
  12. jesskidden

    jesskidden Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Well, not actually a "fee", if by that you mean the yearly license renewal fee paid to the municipality, which is relatively reasonable in most towns...
    --- NJ ABC Handbook

    ...especially compared to brewery (not brewpub) license fees:
    It is the actual cost of a consumption (bar) liquor license, either from the municipality or on the secondary market where the licenses are auctioned that makes it more expensive that a brewery, as well as the fact that it is limited by town size:
    ...and the municipality's desire to allow more licensed establishments. Whole lot of towns don't want independent (non-chain) bars/restaurants or any bars at all.
    Sheppard likes this.
  13. Xerlic

    Xerlic Aug 26, 2016 New York
    Society Trader

    Oh my "good or bad" was from the point of view of the consumer. It's good in the sense that it's much cheaper to BYOB, but bad for the small added hassle.

    When we used to live on the NY/NJ border, it was way cheaper to go out for the night in NJ than in NY. We used to eat at plenty of restaurants in Ramsey, Mahwah, Ridgewood etc that were conveniently located within walking distance of a liquor store.

    I would assume any food serving establishment would love to be able to serve alcohol and enjoy those profit margins without having to deal with the red tape.
  14. ESHBG

    ESHBG Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    "Youse" just didn't work as well with this one so I chose something a little more universal and glad to see that it had struck a chord with you.
    Rug likes this.
  15. dpc166

    dpc166 Jan 17, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Would be a shame if these NJ breweries decided to pull their beers from the taps at bars/restaurants. Breweries don't have to distribute to these places nor do they need to sell at liquor stores. My personal preference is to buy from the source anyway and I do that 95% of the time.

    As an example, PJ Whelihan's has a number of locations in NJ. They have 6 beers on tap from NJ breweries. They also have 6 more beers on tap from breweries in PA. There are 10 taps left with breweries from around the country (3 being AB InBev products). Would be a shame if a place that normally has 22 beers on tap could only provide half of that amount if the PA breweries also pull their products as well (Yards, Victory, Troegs, Levante, etc.).

    If they normally sold 400 pints/day from these local breweries and lost that business (not sure if that would happen), but that by $6.50 per pint across 359 days open (figure 6 major holidays closed), that's almost $1M in lost revenue per PJ's location. Now, not saying that revenue wouldn't be found in the other 10 national brands on tap, but if people were really pissed by what the State has done and went to populate only the local breweries to support them, PJ's could take a pretty big hit from those patrons. If it was bad enough, perhaps these chain pubs might leave the State that was once profitable for them.

    I could see this becoming a pain in the butt for restaurants/bars, especially if people are so pissed off they either 1) don't go to these places and go to BYOB places or 2) go to those places and simply don't buy any alcohol and are forced to return/dump expired products.
  16. Ranbot

    Ranbot Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    The "Breweries In PA" site wrote an article on this, despite it being a NJ issue. It's as detailed as the OP's link, but gives a good quick summary of the major impacts. I'm frankly shocked at how draconian it is.

    If the issue was that restaurants have get an expensive liquor license that brewers side-stepped, then the easiest solution would be make them get a liquor license... But this list of restrictions goes way beyond balance, it's punitive punishment...IMO, of course. Happy hours, free drinks, and coffee sales were a scourge requiring a law to fix, huh? Really?

    PA liquor laws seem to be an improvement, for once.
    mschofield, mgp and Coldbeernicus like this.
  17. Ranbot

    Ranbot Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Reread my post and need to make a correction:
    Oops. :pensive:
  18. dbrauneis

    dbrauneis Dec 8, 2007 North Carolina
    Moderator Society Trader

    As a former MA and NY/NJ resident that has moved to the South, I think the proper plural of y’all is all y’all.
  19. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Having a TV showing sports is an "event"? That is insane.
  20. tinoynk

    tinoynk Sep 25, 2010 New York

    Even though they say it's just "championships," I can imagine somebody forgetting to change ESPN when the International Snooker Championship comes on just as an NJABC auditor strolls in.
    mschofield and jmdrpi like this.
  21. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Yeah that language is so open to interpretation. Not only are there 7 games in each of the World Series, NBA Finals, and Stanley Cup Finals, there are countless College and International "Championships" all year long.
    Coldbeernicus likes this.
  22. jesskidden

    jesskidden Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    That is what a "Brew pub" in NJ must do.
    ... and why there are so few true Brew Pubs in NJ.

    Problem is, standard consumption liquor licenses are limited by the population of the municipality and some towns are maxxed out (which is why licenses cost so much on the secondary market) either by population or at the choice of the municipalities, which have a lot of power to regulate licensed businesses. Again, from the NJ ABC Handbook:
    Umm... these rules were established in 2018 and 2019, pre-epidemic, and they were relaxed during Covid.
    May 28, 2019 - Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Issues New “Special Ruling” Defining Activities Permitted Under State’s Limited Brewery Licenses

    The topic was even discussed here on BA on Sep 25, 2018 - New Jersey Brewery Taprooms Are Under Threat by New Special Ruling

    Before the craft era (pre-1980s), during which most every state changed their Alcoholic Beverage laws, breweries were typically prohibited from selling/serving beer for on- or off-premise consumption at the retail level (some breweries, mostly during official tours, did give a limited amount of free samples.)
    #22 jesskidden, Jul 6, 2022
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2022
    FonyBones likes this.
  23. Rysk22

    Rysk22 Nov 12, 2014 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    This is one of the single dumbest laws I have ever heard of. Bravo New Jersey!
  24. Streaky

    Streaky Mar 26, 2013 New Jersey

    I thought I heard Murphy's son was a craft beer drinker and was encouraging him not to make things lame for craft breweries.

    They're great for towns. Tell me one reason you'd go to Oaklyn, NJ or Barrington, NJ if not to go to Tonewood, for example.
  25. jesskidden

    jesskidden Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    But is his son a fan of karaoke, dog yoga, shitty cover bands and 80s TV trivia contests? You know, the important factors that contribute to great beer brewing.
  26. Sqhead

    Sqhead Jul 5, 2007 New Jersey

    As a lifelong resident of NJ, I am always amazed at how screwed up our elected officials and agencies are.
    We are constantly told how they are looking out for the safety of the residents, but god forbid if a brewery would provide a soft pretzel or a cup of coffee to anyone that just consumed a couple of beers and is ready to drive home.
    mgross50, ESHBG and Coldbeernicus like this.
  27. KingforaDay

    KingforaDay Aug 5, 2010 New Jersey

    Perhaps the most ridiculous thing in there is:
    "The new ruling also allows for customers to only do one tour a year, if the brewery keeps a log of who has already taken the tour"
    Not sure how they can expect a brewery to keep a log of everyone over the course of a year who walks through their doors and takes a tour but i guess it just highlights how clueless the people making these laws are.
    mgross50 likes this.
  28. jesskidden

    jesskidden Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Create a simple Microsoft Excel file or other computer spreadsheet on someone's old unused laptop? Enter customer's name at first tour, upon return do a search or sort by A-Z?

    "yeah, there I am."
  29. KingforaDay

    KingforaDay Aug 5, 2010 New Jersey

    Of course there are ways to do that but how practical is it to have a Brewery employee logging in people who take self guided tours? And if they did I am sure NJ would recommend they use Louts123 rather than excel anyway.
    billandsuz and ESHBG like this.
  30. Spade

    Spade Mar 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Nah. Hand stamps with ink that lasts for a year.
    kinopio, ESHBG, FonyBones and 2 others like this.
  31. TheMattJones88

    TheMattJones88 Sep 12, 2009 Massachusetts

    Teardrop tattoos with a year next to them.
    iguanodon and ESHBG like this.
  32. Spade

    Spade Mar 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I'm gonna guess that NJ has some needlessly complex tattoo laws.
    Rug, ESHBG, BoardwalkBock and 2 others like this.
  33. officerbill

    officerbill Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

  34. 57md

    57md Aug 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

  35. Jbrews

    Jbrews Aug 6, 2013 New Hampshire

    To sum it up.

    The bars and mad about license and want to make sure the breweries are punished too. Sounds like a healthy industry in NJ. It’s 2022 people. We’re beyond this. I feel for these folks.
    rightcoast7 and Rug like this.
  36. forceten

    forceten Jul 22, 2004 North Carolina

    New Jersey is a great state in many ways, but in others, a complete disaster. There's far too many towns, because a few generations ago there was a law with - shocking - unintended consequences that allowed so many towns to just secede. Now there's a patchwork of towns, some, like Teterboro, that have literally one building with any residents.

    While not as stupid as a state-run system, the system really puts the screws to folks trying to work in the industry. The brewpub law, requiring dual licensure, is one. The restrictions on holding multiple licenses is another. The CONSTANT changing of restrictions on what breweries can do is not only obvious in its attempt to favor restaurants over breweries, but it's out of step with the rest of the country, even places like PA and NC and VA where the state controls the sale of spiritous liquor.

    What good is this? Agritourism, of which beer, wine, and spirits are very much a part of, are a real thing. People like going to brewery taprooms. They like bringing their dog, they like relaxing, and yeah, sometimes, they like to buy food. There's a great brewery - Precarious - in Williamsburg VA that has a frigging taco restaurant in the taproom. It's tiny. Food truck sized, maybe slightly larger. They sell... tacos and one or two other things. People like it. What's the problem here?

    The liquor license issue in NJ is a joke. A secondary market for licenses? $1M+ for a license transfer? Why? And of course the pubs are against changing it because "WE HAD TO PAY SO THEN SO SHOULD YOUUUUU".... the same argument why we can't reform health care or college tuition, because it sucked for others so it has to eternally suck. Meanwhile we ignore the massive head start those established... establishments... have.

    Oh but why can't we have very simple basic open laws. Let the market decide. You want a liquor license? It's $2000 a year, $100 fee up front. You want to brew on premise? Okay. You want to also distribute some cans to wholesale? Fine. You want to not have a tap room or tours? OK. You want to have a tap room and a kitchen? Whatever.

    Protectionism like this is akin to tariffs and often this crap doesn't work and just entrenches mediocrity at the expense of creativity and choice.

    Rant over. I'll go back to lurking.
  37. GimmeAGuinness

    GimmeAGuinness Sep 1, 2005 Massachusetts
    Fest Crew Society

    What an asinine thing to do to the breweries. I get that restaurants/bars pay heavily for their licenses to sell the full range of alcohol. If breweries are only selling beer, they should be paying less for those licenses. Limiting entertainment is just completely stupid. Breweries have become destinations that people want in their communities. Get out there and support your brewers, NJ. Support them hard. Whenever one close to you has a DJ or other "event," flock to it by the thousands and show the restaurant/bar owners that they need to offer a similar experience if they want your business.
    mgross50 likes this.
  38. nomisugitai

    nomisugitai Mar 11, 2006 New Jersey

    I really sympathize with the bars and restaurants that paid six figures and up for the local liquor licenses. The breweries should brew and sell beer. Get a license if you want to be a bar. I prefer the real old rules when the breweries could only give tours and free samples.
    jesskidden likes this.
  39. riptorn

    riptorn Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    “Y’all’s” is a possessive pronoun and no more of a ‘term’ than they or them or you (when used in the plural). Hey, I know some folks from Vermont, so I get it :stuck_out_tongue: :wink:

    Correct, with a point of clarification. “Y’all” is plural, there is no singular of 'y’all'. That’s like saying the plural of we is we.

    Spot on plural possessive. :beers:
    jmdrpi and ESHBG like this.
  40. BMZ

    BMZ Oct 18, 2011 South Carolina

    I'm a transplant to the South decades ago and actually the correct plural of y'all is all y'all.
    ColdOne and Miles_in_beer_city like this.