AAIAC

The Alliance of Alcohol Industry Attorneys & Consultants is a select organization of alcoholic beverage licensing and compliance professionals.

My bar or restaurant has closed for coronavirus. Now what?

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My bar or restaurant has closed for coronavirus. Now what?

Apr 2, 2020

On the heels of Gov. Bill Lee’s Safer at Home Order, we are seeing a second wave of restaurant closures. Which begs an important question: Should I let the ABC and local beer board know that my business is closed?

Although we have not seen any formal guidance from the ABC or beer boards on temporary corona closures, we do not expect any citations to issue for closed restaurants, bars, hotels and other licensed establishments.

If you are the cautious sort, you may want to upload a letter into your RLPS record documenting that your establishment is closed indefinitely. You can also mail a similar notice to your local beer board.

We have created a handy template for you to use here. The lawyer in us has to say that this is not legal advice. Facts and circumstances can differ and you may want to take a different course of action.

Safer at home during the corona closure, we have been wearing out Jack White’s killer tune “Alone in my Home.”

All alone in my home

Alone in my home

Nobody can touch me

And now, here are a few operational changes at the ABC.

Inspections.

The ABC ceased in-person inspections in the middle of March. ABC agents have the discretion to inspect by telephone, Facetime or other visual aids. We have continued to obtain licenses during the corona closure.

Late fees for Citations.

The ABC is extending the time period for paying or otherwise resolving citations without penalty from 20 days to 80 days. This is a 60-day extension of the normal 20-day period.

Late fees for renewals.

The ABC has granted a 60-day extension for renewals. We encourage restaurants and bars not to wait to until the 60th day after your renewal deadline. If you discover that you have tax issues or other problems with the renewal, you may find yourself in a situation where you are unable to renew within the 60-day extension. In these cases, the ABC has advised that they may issue citations.

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How to deliver beer in Bristol, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville during the Corona closure

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How to deliver beer in Bristol, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville during the Corona closure

Mar 25, 2020

UPDATED: April 10, 2020

One has to ask: Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Bristol, Chattanooga and Knoxville have all adopted the Nashville model for beer delivery.

Bristol became the latest city to authorize delivery, curbside and takeout sales of beer at its April 7 City Council meeting. On-premise, breweries and on-off beer permit holders can deliver inside the Bristol City limits after first informing Lt. Walter Brown, City Beer Board Secretary, and waiting on his confirmation.

Keep in mind that the state-wide delivery order only applies to restaurants, limited service restaurants, and wine-only restaurants. The city delivery laws allow breweries, and hotels and other businesses that do not hold ABC restaurant licenses to deliver beer within city limits.

There also is no food-service requirement with beer delivery, and no restrictions on quantities.

Consistent with the Nashville model, only employees of Bristol beer permit holder can deliver -- meaning no third-party services like UberEats, Post Mates, or DoorDash. Delivery personnel must be 21 years of age or older. The City can revoke permission to deliver beer at any time, if the Bristol Police Department finds evidence they sold beer to a minor or an intoxicated person.

Knoxville adopted the Nashville beer delivery model by emergency ordinance. Attached is a copy of the ordinance

Chattanooga joined the list of cities allowing beer delivery on March 27, 2020. Mayor Andy Burke entered an executive order that essentially adopts the Nashville process. The process is explained in the order (Executive Order 2020-05.pdf).

Memphis was the second city to authorize delivery and to-go beer sales by restaurants. All businesses holding an on-premise beer permit can sell sealed containers of beer to-go, including curbside, drive-through and delivery. It looks like delivery is limited to employees. The motion is attached here. (Memphis Beer Delivery Motion 4845-1834-5144 v1.pdf)

In a spot of good news for carryout, Memphis city officials are bagging downtown meters to allow temporary parking for curbside delivery and takeout.

ORIGINAL POST

The Metropolitan Beer Permit Board of Nashville has enacted an emergency regulation allowing restaurants, hotels and most breweries to apply for a new beer permit to deliver and sell beer curbside and to-go.

Establishments with Tennessee ABC restaurant, limited service restaurant and wine-only licenses have greater privileges under Executive Order, as we explain here.

Nashville beer delivery is the only option for hotels, caterers, premier-type tourist resorts, convention centers and other ABC special license types, as well as beer-only, on-premise permit holders, such as beer bars and breweries that do not hold ABC liquor licenses.

As of posting, we have filed delivery applications for 65 restaurants, hotels and breweries.

Here’s how to exercise delivery privileges in Nashville:

1. Give notice. Before selling to go, curbside or delivering, the Regulation requires notification to the Metro Beer Board via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and providing the following information:

Name of the Permittee

Physical Address of the Permittee

E-mail Address

Phone Number

On or On/Off Premise Beer Permit Number

There is no application fee. The staff will issue a 30-day temporary “on/off” permit that allows the restaurant, hotel or brewery to immediately begin to-go, curbside and delivery of beer. Attached is a copy of the draft Regulation, which was adopted. 

You can start delivering as soon as the beer board responds. Response has been quite brisk, during business hours. The beer board will also e-mail you a new temporary on-off permit, which you should post.

2. Employees only. The emergency Regulation requires that deliveries be made by employees. No delivery of beer by UberEats or other third-party delivery services.

3. Universal carding. The Reg requires mandatory carding by the employee making the delivery, curbside or to-go sale.

4. Drive thru windows. The Reg also authorizes sale of beer at drive-thru and delivery windows.

We find ourselves humming the Talking Heads completely cryptic single:

Once in a Lifetime

Same as it ever was

Letting the days go by

Same as it ever was

Same as it ever was

Stay tuned for more updates.

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Latest updates for alcohol delivery by restaurants in Tennessee

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Latest updates for alcohol delivery by restaurants in Tennessee

Mar 23, 2020

UPDATED: April 15, 2020

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee extended the executive order allowing drive-thru, carry-out and delivery service of beer, wine and spirits for restaurants. Executive Order 27 extended Executive Order 17. You can do “to-go” and delivery sales of beer, wine and spirits until midnight April 30. Read the original order here.

Restaurants, limited-service restaurants and wine-only restaurants can sell take-out and deliver alcoholic beverages and beer. There is no additional license or permission needed to deliver.

Restaurants can use employees or third-party delivery services such as Postmates and Uber Eats to deliver alcohol. Delivery personnel are not required to have server permit cards or any special qualifications.

Keep in mind that if you are using a third-party delivery service, your restaurant remains liable for sales to minors, intoxicated persons or the violation of any other law.  A restaurant will not be able  to avoid liability by saying the Uber driver did it. 

Since issuance of the order, restaurants and bars have sprung into action across Tennessee to start delivering alcohol with food orders.

We urge folks to keep hustling during these difficult times and check Last Call for updates. The Tennessee ABC has posted FAQs here.

Here is our summary of the rules of engagement for to-go, curbside, drive-through and delivery:

1. Alcohol must be delivered with food. At least one item of food must be sold in every order containing alcohol. The amount of food required is not specified, but given the emergency nature of this order, we encourage restaurants not to play games and count lime slices as food, for example.

Licensees are still required to be responsible. Restaurants can set rules, such as one entrée per two single-serving margaritas. You can always require that customers order a meal or set a minimum dollar amount of food for deliveries.

2. Alcohol must be packaged in a container or bottle with a secure lid or cap. We read this rule to mean that the container must be closed. Closed is not the same as sealed. For example, a lid screwed on the top of a plastic jug is closed. Alcohol does not have to be sealed, meaning you do not have to attach seals like you would find on commercial products at grocery stores.

The ABC advises restaurants to “cover containers in a reasonable manner that would require the consumer to unpackage them for consumption.” For example, we believe a styrofoam container with a lid that does not have a straw hole will work. If all your lids have straw holes, tape the straw holes.

3. Bottles and cans of beer and wine can be delivered, including regular-sized wine bottles. No bottles of spirits or liquor. The ABC has clarified that it considers a single serving to be a beverage containing no more than 16 ounces of beer, nine ounces of wine, or four ounces of spirits, and no more than 16 ounces of total liquid in the serving container. In Bristol, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville, where local beer boards have specifically authorized carry out and delivery of beer, these limitations do not apply to beer having an alcoholic content of 10.1 percent by volume. Once properly registered for delivery with your city, growlers are fine in these cities and any other city that has specifically authorized carryout and delivery of beer. Read more about beer delivery here.

4. Restaurants must post a sign with the following notice: “No driver shall consume any alcoholic beverage or beer or possess an open container of alcoholic beverage or beer while operating a motor vehicle in this state.” Although the order is not clear, we advise folks to post the sign on the wall, with your liquor license.

5. Mandatory carding for deliveries. Sales cannot be made to under 21 or intoxicated persons. 

With a third-party delivery service such as Postmates, you should ensure that delivery personnel are properly trained for carding. Some delivery services are not set up to require carding.

Drivers do not have to physically touch an identification to verify age. Because orders are most likely paid in advance, online or via phone, there is no need for drivers to risk potential contamination and make physical content with the customer.

That said, drivers need to ensure that they properly ID. We encourage Redbox carding and closer scrutiny of all Redbox IDs.

6. Drivers must be at least 21 years of age and have a valid driver’s license.

7. Carry out and delivery of alcohol are limited to current operating hours, which is not defined. We advise folks to adhere to the normal sales hours for beer and alcoholic beverages.

8. You can deliver cocktails! As long as the package has a secure lid, we read the order as allowing delivery of margaritas, cocktails and other mixed drinks.

9. Single serving packages only. Although wine by the bottle may be sold, no other multi-serving containers are allowed, under Tennessee ABC guidance here. For purposes of single servings, the ABC says no more than 16 oz. of beer, 9 oz. of wine or 4 oz. of spirits in a container with not more than 16 ounces of total liquid. If your local beer board allows you to sell low gravity beer for carry-out or delivery in greater amounts, then you may do so for purposes of low gravity beer only.  Low gravity beer is less than 8% ABW or 10.1% ABV.

No more carafes of sangria or pitchers of margarita’s to go. You can sell multiple single-serving containers with a meal, although we continue to recommend moderation under this emergency order.

Mini bottles of spirits present a conundrum. State law prohibits the sale of spirits by the bottle. However, Governor Lee’s order specifically authorizes “single servings of alcoholic beverages.”

In our humble opinion, Executive Order 17 allows a restaurant to deliver mini bottles of spirits, provided it is clear that the mini bottle is intended for a single serving. We advise folks to securely tape or otherwise attach a mini bottle of spirits to the mixer. That way, it is abundantly clear that the two items - the container and the mini bottle - are intended to be a single serving. Do not play games and toss twelve mini bottles of tequila in a bag and consider yourself in compliance with the order.

10. Curbside and drive-through. The order does not specifically address curbside and drive-through, but given the intent of the order, we believe it is OK to deliver drinks curbside and through drive-through windows.

The ABC has also clarified that although beer, wine and spirits may be sold at curbside, restaurants cannot stage multiple alcohol deliveries at tables outside the restaurant’s licensed premises. We understand that it is convenient for multiple orders to be brought out for immediate pickup at curbside. Although this is okay for food, alcohol must stay inside the restaurant until the customer or delivery service arrives for pickup.

11. Alcohol must come from the restaurant’s inventory. A restaurant cannot buy or deliver alcohol from a retail liquor store, food store or another restaurant. You must purchase your alcohol from a wholesaler.

12. The executive order only applies to establishments licensed as full-service restaurants, wine-only restaurants and limited service restaurants by the Tennessee ABC. Hotels, caterers, premier-type tourist resorts, convention centers and other special license types cannot deliver or sell alcohol to-go under the executive order.

There are special delivery rules for beer in many cities where local beer boards have established specific guidelines. Here is the process for beer delivery. 

Please note that the rules for beer-only delivery are very different from delivery under an ABC restaurant license. To make matters confusing, you can deliver beer under your restaurant liquor license. We see local beer delivery as really benefitting breweries, hotels and other license types that do not hold an ABC restaurant, limited service restaurant or wine-only restaurant license.

13. Get your beer here. Restaurants do not need permission from their local beer board to deliver under the Governor’s order. If you are a brewery that does not hold a restaurant license, or another license type that would like to deliver beer, please see our post herefor details concerning how to register with your local beer board to deliver beer. Please note that this process does not allow delivery of wine or spirits. Please note that this process does not allow delivery of wine or spirits.

14. Restaurant dining rooms are closed. You cannot pour a beer or drink while guests wait on to-go orders. Food and beverage cannot be consumed on-premises under the order.

15. Collect sales tax. Restaurants do not collect the 15% liquor by the drink tax for all wine and spirits sold to go or for delivery, including bottles and cans of beer, wine and single-serve cocktails. You do have to collect sales tax. Here is the post from Revenue. (link to attached). If you have more tax questions, see our post here.

16. Delivery applies to restaurants statewide, but we urge folks to exercise discretion and not deliver to dry towns and counties. We suspect that the Governor did not intend for delivery to areas that have not approved of liquor-by-the-drink.

17. The Order expires on April 30, 2020. Although it is possible the Governor will extend delivery privileges, the Order expires by its own terms at midnight on April 30.

Click here for the full order.

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Hunker down update for Tennessee, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville and other cities

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Hunker down update for Tennessee, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville and other cities

Mar 22, 2020

UPDATED: April 15, 2020

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee issued a stay-at-home order, effective until midnight April 30.

This means all bars and restaurants remain closed in Tennessee, except for takeout, curbside and delivery. A copy of the order is at this link. 

Importantly, we read the order as specifically authorizing liquor stores to remain open.

In describing Food and Medicine Stores, the order includes “other establishments engaged in the retail sale of groceries, canned food, dry goods, frozen foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supplies, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, prepared food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.” This includes distilleries and breweries offering product for sale to-go and at curbside.

Hunkered down, safe at home and knowing that a cocktail is available for delivery by just calling a local restaurant finds us singing REM’s immortal hit:

It’s the end of the world as we know it

It’s the end of the world as we know it

It’s the end of the world as we know it

and I feel fine

Here is a summary of local orders, which we will update as we receive information:

Chattanooga. Mayor Andy Berke entered an executive order closing “establishments whose primary business is alcohol service or food service. … Nothing in this order shall be intended to prevent pick-up, delivery or drive-thru service.” Mayor Berke’s proclamation went into effect at midnight on March 19. Mayor Berke mandated additional steps on March 25 to limit community exposure to the virus and protect workers, but pick-up, delivery and drive-thru are still authorized.

Chattanooga suburb East Ridge issued an order closing on-site dining at food and alcohol establishments. Takeout, delivery and drive-thru can remain open.

Franklin. Mayor Ken Moore issued a Stay at Home Executive Order beginning at 12:01 a.m., March 25, and effective for seven days. All but essential business are closed. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food can be open, but only for delivery or carry out.

Knox County. March 23, the Knox County Health Department issued the Knox County Safer at Home Order, which urges all residents to shelter in place to the extent possible. The order remains in effect for 14 days, subject to extension. Although the order is not specific, there is language that allows “other businesses supporting the food supply” to be open and the order specifically allows delivery. We see this as authorizing takeout and delivery by restaurants.

Memphis. March 23, Mayor Jim Strickland issued an executive order directing all individuals living in the City of Memphis to remain in their place of residence unless engaged in essential activities, essential governmental functions, or to operate essential businesses as defined in the order. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food are open, but only for delivery or carry out. Memphis has a special beer delivery act. (https://www.wallerlaw.com/news-insights/3522/How-to-deliver-beer-in-Nashville-during-the-corona-closure) In a spot of good news for carryout, city officials are bagging downtown meters to allow temporary parking for curbside delivery and takeout.

Memphis suburbs Germantown, Bartlett, & Collierville issued stay at home orders, which authorize going to a restaurant for takeout, delivery or drive-thru.

Nashville. Chief Medical Director Dr. Michael Caldwell issued Safer at Home Order on March 22, directing residents of Nashville and Davidson County to stay inside their homes and limit all movement outside of their residence beyond what is necessary to take care of essential needs. The city previously closed dine-in service at restaurants. Take-out orders, drive-thru service, curbside pickup, and delivery service are permitted. Nashville has a special beer delivery act. (https://www.wallerlaw.com/news-insights/3522/How-to-deliver-beer-in-Nashville-during-the-corona-closure)

Sumner County.  March 23, Mayor Anthony Holt issued a Safer at Home declaration closing all non-essential businesses. Although the order is not specific, there is language that allows “other businesses supporting the food supply” to be open. We see this as authorizing takeout service by restaurants.

Tullahoma. March 23, Mayor Curlee issued a Shelter at Home order, which imposes a curfew between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., during which all persons in the City of Tullahoma shall remain home. The order closed all businesses effective at 6:00 pm on March 24, 2020, except for businesses deemed essential services. Although the order is not specific, there is language that allows “other businesses supporting the food supply” to be open. We see this as authorizing takeout service by restaurants.

Wilson County. March 25, Mayor Randall Hutto issued a letter to residents declaring a State of Emergency. Residents should not eat or drink onsite at restaurants or bars, which should not be open except for drive-through, pickup, carry-out or delivery service for food and drink. Lebanon and Mt. Juliet had already declared states of emergency with similar restrictions.

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Tennessee distilleries do their part for hand sanitizer shortage

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Tennessee distilleries do their part for hand sanitizer shortage

Mar 21, 2020

The Tennessee Distiller’s Guild is featuring 15 distilleries that are producing hand sanitizer.  At the proper strength, drinking alcohol makes a terrific sanitizer. 

Some of the distilleries have been donating sanitizer to worthy causes, a particularly admirable deed during this time of shortage.  Others have product for sale at the distillery and retail outlets. 

The Tennessean has good coverage.

Here's a list of Tennessee Guild Distillery members turning hooch into hand sanitizer: 

Big Machine Distillery, Lynnville and Nashville

Chattanooga Whiskey, Chattanooga

Corsair Distillery, Nashville

Doc Collier Moonshine, Gatlinburg

Gate 11 Distillery, Chattanooga

Jack Daniels, Lynchburg

Lost State Distilling, Bristol

Nashville Craft Distillery, Nashville

Nelson’s Greenbrier, Nashville

Old Dominick Distillery, Memphis

Old Forge Distillery, Pigeon Forge

Old Glory Distilling Co., Clarksville

Picker’s Vodka, Nashville

Sugarlands Distilling Co., Gatlinburg

Tennessee Legend Distillery, Nashville, Newport and Sevierville

If you visit a local distillery, make sure you support the industry and pick up a nice supply of craft spirits for your bar.  Cheers.

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Tennessee Governor orders bars, restaurants closed except for delivery, takeout

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Tennessee Governor orders bars, restaurants closed except for delivery, takeout

Mar 20, 2020

UPDATED: April 15, 2020

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has ordered all bars and restaurants closed in Tennessee except for takeout and delivery. The order will remain in effect through April 30.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created both an economic and a health crisis and our response must continue to address both aspects,” Lee said in a statement. “Our goal is to keep the public, especially vulnerable populations, safe while doing everything possible to keep Tennesseans in a financially stable position.” 

Original post:

The Metropolitan Beer Permit Board of Nashville has enacted an emergency regulation allowing restaurants, hotels and most breweries can now apply for a new beer permit to deliver and sell beer curbside and “to go.” 

As of posting, we have filed delivery applications for 59 restaurants, hotels and breweries, and many have already been issued permits.

Meanwhile, earlier today, Metro Nashville Chief Medical Director Dr. Michael Caldwell closed dine-in service at restaurants. Take-out orders, drive-thru service, curbside pickup, and delivery service are permitted.

In addition, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke entered an executive order closing “establishments whose primary business is alcohol service or food service. … Nothing in this order shall be intended to prevent pick-up, delivery or drive-thru service.” Mayor Berke’s proclamation went into effect at midnight on March 19.

Finally, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland declared a civil emergency and ordered all restaurants to close their dining rooms and offer takeout or delivery service only. Bars are closed. In a spot of good news for carryout, city officials are bagging downtown meters to allow temporary parking for curbside delivery and takeout.

The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission held a special meeting at 2 p.m. today. Although there was discussion about wine and spirits delivery by restaurants, hotels and bars, Director Russell Thomas believes that delivery will require an action by the governor. 

To date, Nashville is the only city that we have seen take steps to authorize delivery and to-go beer sales by restaurants.

How to deliver beer in Nashville

Before selling to go, curbside or delivering, the Regulation requires notification to the Metro Beer Board via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and providing the following information:

Name of the Permittee Physical Address of the Permittee E-mail Address Phone Number On or On/Off Premise Beer Permit Number

There is no application fee. The staff will issue a 30-day temporary “on/off” permit that allows the restaurant, hotel or brewery to immediately begin to-go, curbside and delivery of beer. Attached is a copy of the draft Regulation, which we understand was just adopted. READ:  Beer Board Delivery Regulation

The emergency regulation requires that deliveries be made by employees. No delivery of beer by UberEats or other third-party delivery services.

The Reg requires mandatory carding by the employee making the delivery, curbside or to-go sale.

The Reg also authorizes sale of beer at drive-thru and delivery windows.

We find ourselves humming the Talking Heads completely cryptic single:

Once in a Lifetime

Same as it ever was

Letting the days go by

Same as it ever was

Stay tuned for more updates.

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No hospitality industry tax holiday in Tennessee

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No hospitality industry tax holiday in Tennessee

Mar 18, 2020

With the hospitality industry devastated from the coronavirus, we keep hearing the same refrain from restaurant, bar, hotel and venue owners:

Do I have to pay my LBD and sales tax this month?

Unless the State of Tennessee provides tax relief for sales and liquor-by-the-drink taxes, our response is yes.  You have to pay your taxes.

Sales tax comes due on the 20th of the month.  Liquor-by-the-drink tax was due on the 15th. 

We believe the state missed a tremendous opportunity to help the hospitality industry weather the corona crisis.

There is personal liability for failing to pay these taxes.  We do not want to see anyone become personally liable for taxes, particularly during pressing financial times.

Keep in mind that a business is collecting sales and liquor by the drink taxes for the state.  The state views the tax collections as the state’s money.  If you divert tax collections to pay other bills, such as staff, food supplies or rent, you have essentially stolen from the state.  The law is stacked in favor of the state on this point. 

We hear the Mississippi Sheiks classic 1934 recording of Sales Tax Blues:

Say Walter, we need some cigarettes. Let's go in and get a pack.

Okay!

Hello boys, what can I do for you?

I'll have a pack of cigarettes.

Alright. Here you are. Be three cents more though.

What's that for?

Sales tax. Haven't you ever heard of sales tax?

Sure haven't.

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Coronavirus interrupts beer board licensing in Tennessee

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Coronavirus interrupts beer board licensing in Tennessee

Mar 16, 2020

It is official.  The coronavirus is slowing down the sale of beer, or at least the issuance of beer permits.  We are going to keep a running list of closures at Last Call.  If you know of any that are not on our list, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

Memphis Beer Board                        
March 18 (CANCELED)

Meetings scheduled to resume April 1

Nashville Beer Board                        
March 25 (CANCELED)

Meetings scheduled to resume April 9

Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Comissions

Director Russell Thomas says it should be business as normal at the Tennessee ABC.  Staff will be working remotely with laptops and there will be minimal in-office presence. 

Instead of canceling the March 31 meeting, the Director expects that the meeting will proceed telephonically or via other technology. The ABC is holding a special meeting later this week to approve of a new location for Nashville wholesaler Best Brands, which was destroyed in the tornado.

Kudos to my keeper Randi for this Semisonic hit lyric:

Closing time

One last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer.

Closing time

You don't have to go home but you can't stay here.

Tennessee state courts have suspended all in court proceedings, except emergencies.  The Tennessee Supreme Court has also extended some deadlines.  Read more here

Here is Nashville Mayor Cooper’s announcement from Friday the 13th.  I think the irony of the date might have been lost.

All Boards & Commission Chairs and Members:

I am hereby requesting that the chairs and members of all Boards and Commissions of the Metropolitan Government postpone all pending public meetings scheduled through April 6, 2020, subject to requirements of the Metropolitan Charter and Code of Laws.

Upon consultation with the Metro Public Health Department, and consistent with emerging recommendations from the Center for Disease Control, the Tennessee Department of Health, and the White House Task Force on Coronavirus, this request is submitted to deter further spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus as well as to ensure consistency and finality for the public's scheduling purposes.

To the extent possible, board and commission agenda items should be deferred and placed upon the agenda of subsequent meetings scheduled after April 1. Additionally, every effort should be made to provide sufficient notice of postponement to members of the public, especially anticipated attendees, and to otherwise alleviate the resulting delays in the administrative process.

My office and the Metro Public Health Department are continuing to close monitor this evolving situation. We are also collaborating with the Metropolitian IT Services Department to format future public meetings in a manner that protects the health and safety of all attendees, using remote participation tools such as video web conferencing, teleconferencing, and other services.

I recognize the significant inconvenience cancellation and postponement of these meetings will cause. But our first priority is of course the safety of our citizens and residents; so I am deeply grateful for your cooperation and understanding. I think you for your support and patience.

Sincerely,

John Cooper

Mayor of Metropolitan Government of Nashville

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How to support your local watering hole in Nashville

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How to support your local watering hole in Nashville

Mar 16, 2020

UPDATE: On Friday morning, Nashville health officials halted dine-in service at restaurants. Take-out orders, drive-thru service, curbside pickup, and delivery service are permitted. Here's an update.

Mayor Cooper‘s announcement that he was closing bars in Nashville as a result of the coronavirus epidemic quickly went viral among locals.

We have been hearing the same question from tons of bar owners: What do we do?

We recommend that you serve food and provide a safe environment for your customers.  If you have a decent food menu and loyal customers, become a restaurant in this time of need.

As Mayor Cooper said in his statement closing bars: “We are encouraging restaurants to remain open as both a measure of social wellbeing and because of their important role in helping to feed our community.”

No one has said you have to stop serving alcohol, you just need to sell 50 percent food to be open.

Loyal customers, take a break, run to your local watering hole and order up some grub with that cocktail. It may do your mental health some good, and Nashville’s hospitality industry -- bartenders, servers, cooks and business owners - could use your support.

All this buzz on social media makes us pine for the days of Marvin Gaye:

It took me by surprise I must say

When I found out yesterday

Don't you know that I heard it through the grapevine

Many folks have asked whether the city has the legal authority to take drastic action to close businesses. 

Although we have not done extensive research, we believe the city does have the authority.  For example, the Metro Health Department has the authority to close an unsafe food establishment. This is a routine power and does not require a state of emergency.

There is precedent for our thoughts about focusing on food service and serving the public need.

A court in Nashville found that Tennessee law is too vague to enforce a ban on guns in bars. Chancellor Bonnyman ruled that the distinction between restaurants and bars was unconstitutionally vague on November 6, 2009.

Make sure you understand and follow the rules: 

limit maximum seating to under 50 percent of your capacity no more than 100 individuals, regardless of your capacity no standing at bars bars should be limited to 50 percent of the bar area seating space out of tables for customers - think social distancing

Click here for Mayor Cooper’s statement and the Health Department order

There may be a silver lining from the Mayoral and Health Department's actions. Insurance typically does not cover losses from illness, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. With the state of emergency and specific closure order from the government, your losses may become insured. 

We encourage you to check with your insurance agent and hope to have more information on this front soon.

Stay tuned, serve lots of meals and be well.

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New version of RLPS goes live in Tennessee

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New version of RLPS goes live in Tennessee

Feb 3, 2020

Image title

The Tennessee ABC unveiled its new version of the Regulatory Licensing and Permitting System, known as RLPS, on Monday, February 3.

ABC IT Director Chris Dowell explains:  “We put a lot of effort into improving our customers’ experience.”  For example, RLPS now shows what you can do on the site, as opposed to requiring users to first log in and then navigate menus.  Users can now select what they want to do from the icons on the home page.  

Assistant Director Tabatha Blackwell is “excited that RLPS is much easier for servers,” who files tens of thousands of applications.  Applying for a server permit is now the first icon among the services available in RLPS.  

Licensing professionals will be pleased to discover that finding and printing a license has been reduced from a few minutes to a few seconds.  Users no longer have to go into the file and navigate the relatively complex process to find and print licenses.  There is an icon on the home page: Print My License.

Licensing professionals will also be able to navigate quicker to renewals or pending applications by selecting the appropriate icon.

All this interface talk leaves us humming Shania Twain’s hit “She’s Not Just A Pretty Face.”

She’s Not Just a Pretty Face

She’s got everything it takes.

She’s mother of the human race

She’s not just a pretty face

RLPS is now optimized to be faster and more responsive to both licensing professionals and the ABC staff.  Back office functions – what the ABC uses to process your applications – are much faster, which should lead to faster processing for applications.

Among other improvements, the back office workflow is more visual.  The system is easier for Licensing/Permitting Specialists to tell when ABC inspections are scheduled, for example.

RLPS now includes a new payment portal for citations.  

Thanks to ABC Business Analyst Tamsyn Smith, who worked much of the weekend to make sure the new system was up and running Monday morning.

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Wet your whistle while you work

Last-Call---your-source-for-Tennessee-liquor-news Last Call - Your Source for Tennessee Liquor

Here’s an often-heard question with a surprising answer.  Can I drink while working as a bartender, server or clerk at a liquor store? 

To the chagrin of the champions of temperance, Tennessee does not prohibit the consumption of alcoholic beverages by employees working at on-premise license locations, such as restaurants, bars, hotels, nightclubs, stadiums and other establishments. In addition, clerks, managers and other employees can drink tastings offered to consumers at retail liquor stores.

On this particular question, we find ourselves on the side of temperance. It is a bad idea to allow employees to drink on the job, particularly when they are servicing and selling alcohol. For liability reasons, we encourage employers to establish rules that prohibit drinking on the job. 

That said, drinking on the job is legal at bars and restaurants, with the following caveats:

B-Girl Rule.  Tennessee prohibits customers from buying drinks for servers and other on-premise employees. Minors.  The drinking age is 21 and employees under the age of 21 cannot drink. Intoxication.  It is illegal to serve a visibly intoxicated person, meaning that a bartender cannot get visibly drunk on the job.

To the collective chagrin of hundreds of loyal Last Call followers, we find ourselves singing the oh-so merry melody sung by Disney’s diminutive cartoon chaps:

Just whistle while you work

And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place.

So hum a merry tune.

It won’t take long when there’s a song to help you set the pace. 

Now we all need a drink…

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Who do I have to card when selling alcohol in Tennessee?

Last-Call---your-source-for-Tennessee-liquor-news Last Call - Your Source for Tennessee Liquor

Unless you are living under a rock, you know you need a new driver’s license – a REAL ID – in order to clear TSA Security at airports and to enter secured federal facilities, such as military bases. The fear of flying, or more accurately, the fear of not being able to fly, has inspired action among REAL ID applicants and generated long lines at Tennessee driver’s license centers. The deadline for having a REAL ID is October 1, 2020.

With all the hoopla surrounding REAL ID, we have to ask:  Do I need a REAL ID in order to purchase alcohol in Tennessee?

So far, the answer is no. We believe the Tennessee ABC will continue to allow restaurants, bars, grocery stores and other license holders to accept valid Tennessee Driver’s licenses – regardless of whether they are REAL ID.

Of course, individual beer boards and local police may see things differently; however, nothing in the carding laws requires a REAL ID.

All this talk over REAL ID raises a perennial question: Who has to card everyone? Drum roll, please. 

Beer – off-premises (C stores, groceries, pharmacies) - Yes, card everyone Beer – on-premises (beer bars) - No, carding is discretionary Wine and spirits off-premises (liquor stores) – Yes, card everyone beginning July 1, 2014 Wine stores (groceries) – Yes, card everyone beginning July 1, 2016 Wine and spirits on-premises (restaurants, bars) – No, carding is discretionary

Burned out on Christmas carols, we are cranking Rihanna's "Cheers (Drink to That)"

There's a party at the bar

Everybody put ya glasses up and I drink to that

I drink to that

We have often opined that universal carding is an utter waste of time – why spend any time looking at the ID of a silver-haired elderly gentleman when you should be focusing on ID’s of college-age kids?

However, given the significant number of servers and clerks that fail beer board and ABC stings by not even asking for an ID, we believe universal carding works. Universal carding takes the discretion out of the hands of the server and requires staff to card everyone.

Restaurants, bars and other on-premise establishments do not have to card – but we strongly encourage folks to require universal carding.

The Metro Nashville Beer Board has publicly indicated that it has increased stings, as we blogged about here. Likewise, the Tennessee ABC is expected to continue to focus on age ID stings. Your license is at risk.

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Metro Nashville Beer Board rachets up sales to minors enforcement

Last-Call---your-source-for-Tennessee-liquor-news Last Call - Your Source for Tennessee Liquor

At yesterday’s Metro Nashville Beer Board meeting, department staff informed the Beer Board that the Beer Inspectors have devised a more efficient method to conduct age compliance checks and sting establishments that sell to minors.

The proof is in the pudding: yesterday’s agenda included 19 citations for sales to minors.

Beer board staff expects a continued uptick in the number of citations from failed sale to minor stings over the indefinite future.  We find ourselves humming “Bad Boys” from the Fox TV hit “Cops”

Bad boys, bad boys

Whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do

When they come for you?

The Metro Beer Board and the Tennessee ABC conduct fair stings, in our humble opinion.  Nearly every law enforcement agency in Tennessee uses a real undercover informant, who presents his or her real driver’s license that clearly shows the person is underage.  There is no need to resort to chicanery given the high number of failures from clean stings.

We strongly encourage Nashville restaurants, bars, music, entertainment and sports venues and other purveyors of beer to double-down on training and reevaluate the effectiveness of age identification procedures. We are big fans of Red Box ID, explained at our post here.  

Based on today’s report, you can expect a visit from the Beer Inspectors.

Last Call is your first stop for Tennessee liquor news and information.

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Distillers showcase finest at Grains and Grits preview party

Last-Call---your-source-for-Tennessee-liquor-news Last Call - Your Source for Tennessee Liquor

More than 30 distillers gathered for the invitation-only preview party for the 2019 Grains & Grits in Townsend, Tennessee this past weekend (Nov. 1-2). Little Arrow Outdoor Resort hosted the festivities and we snapped some photos below. A big shout-out to Kim Mitchell and all the folks at the Blount Partnership and the Tennessee Distillers Guild for making the 2019 festival a smashing success.

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Flaherty & O’Hara at the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators (NCSLA) annual Southern Regional Conference

Flaherty & O’Hara is pleased and honored to attend and be an invited speaker at the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators (NCSLA) annual Southern Regional Conference in New Orleans, LA, the week of October 21, 2019. Our associate Eric Altpeter was on a panel discussing cannabis laws and their intersection with alcohol beverage laws […]

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Flaherty & O’Hara at the Annual Conference of the National Association of Licensing & Compliance Professionals

Flaherty & O’Hara is pleased to have sponsored, attended and been a trade show participant in, and honored to have been invited to be a presenter at the annual conference of the National Association of Licensing & Compliance Professionals (NALCP or “Nalcap”) held in Denver, CO. October 15-18, 2019. R.J. O’Hara was a panel member […]

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How to pay your Metro Nashville beer privilege tax online

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How to pay your Metro Nashville beer privilege tax online

Oct 11, 2019

With the addition of a handy dandy “Pay Now” button, the Metro Nashville Beer Permit Board has greatly simplified payment of the $100 annual privilege tax for beer permits. Beer permit privilege taxes are generally due by the end of the year. Metro Nashville’s is now available for payment.

Here’s how to pay your privilege tax. Log in to the Nashville e-Permits

Enter the permit address and select the “address” button below the search bar, then click enter. Your list of permits should appear on the next screen. Select a beer permit and you should see the green “Pay Now” button in the top right corner. When you click the “Pay Now” button, you’ll be prompted to enter your credit card to pay the $100 annual privilege tax. A 2.3% convenience fee is charged, so the total will be $102.30. Do not forget to click the “Submit Payment” button in the bottom right corner. 

We hear Doris Day crooning “Easy as Pie”

Easy as pie, anyone can do it

Easy as pie, as soon as you’re hep

Easy as pie, there’s nothin’ to it

Baby, give out with a step

A shout out to our newest liquor lawyer, Jan Margaret Craig, for step-by-step instructions on renewing your privilege tax.

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Panic at the Disco: Where is my liquor license renewal?

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Panic at the Disco: Where is my liquor license renewal?

Sep 19, 2019

Phone lines have been lighting up with the same question from bars, restaurants, hotels, and yes, even discos.

I think I’ve renewed my liquor license on time, but have not received anything from RLPS, the on-line filing system used by the Tennessee ABC.  Nary an e-mail and nothing shows in RLPS. Wassup?

Callers share a common refrain: “My license expires in a few days. I’m worried that I will have to stop selling liquor and the wholesalers won’t deliver.”

Folks are understandably concerned.  Most beer wholesalers, for example, refuse to deliver a single can of Bud if the restaurant or bar does not post a valid beer permit.

Our advice: Chill. If you have timely filed a complete ABC renewal, we seriously doubt the ABC will tell you to stop selling alcohol.

We qualify things with the lawyerly term “complete.”  Complete means:

You have filed all required renewal documents with the ABC before your license expires You paid the renewal fee You have no outstanding citations, and Your establishment is in good standing with Revenue, meaning that you have filed all tax returns, paid all taxes and your bond is current.

We can’t help singing One of the Drunks by Panic at the Disco:

Never dry

Every day you’re thirsty, bourbon high

Sip up ‘til you’re tipsy, night’s young

If you are nervous about the approval of your renewal, your first step should be to make sure your renewal is “complete.”

The ABC prioritizes new applications and other more time-sensitive priorities. We do not fault the ABC for occasionally falling behind on renewals.

For anyone anxiously awaiting issuance of their liquor license – days before trying to open a new restaurant, bar or hotel – placing a priority on new applications makes sense.

Unfortunately, RLPS does not allow you to see the status of renewals. With new applications, you can check the processing status of the application to see if it has been assigned to a reviewer, for example. Without that option for renewals, you are in the dark.

We find ourselves wistfully wanton for a return to the golden era when you picked up the landline and called Melissa Proctor to make sure that everything was fine with your renewal.

Chill.

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Flaherty & O’Hara at CLE International Wine, Beer & Spirits annual conference in Charlotte, NC

Flaherty & O’Hara is pleased and honored to attend and be an invited panel member at CLE International Wine, Beer & Spirits annual conference in Charlotte, NC, September 16-17, 2019. Our partner R.J. O’Hara participated on a panel discussing the current status of direct-to-consumer shipping laws and relevant new legislation and case law, as well as the […]

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How to ban firearms in Tennessee businesses

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How to ban firearms in Tennessee businesses

Sep 12, 2019

Following recent high-profile announcements about carrying guns at Walmart and Kroger, we thought folks might like to know how to legally ban weapons on their property. 

Last week, Walmart and Kroger asked their shoppers to leave their guns at home.  Tennessee is an open carry state, where citizens can obtain a permit to carry a gun in most public places, including restaurants, bars, hotels and music venues. 

We find ourselves humming Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Saturday Night Special.

            Mr. Saturday night special

            Got a barrel that’s blue and cold

            Ain’t good for nothin’

            But put a man six feet in a hole

            Oh, it’s the Saturday night special, for twenty dollars you can buy yourself one too

Walmart and Kroger merely asked shoppers not to bring their guns. The retail giants did not ban guns.

Tennessee businesses can prohibit the legal carrying of firearms by posting signs that state “NO FIREARMS ALLOWED” in letters that are at least one inch high and eight inches wide.  Updated in 2017, the law also requires that the sign state: “As authorized by T.C.A. §39-17-1359.” And if that’s not enough, the sign also has to include the universal “No Handgun” sign, inside a circle at least four inches in diameter.

Here is a sample:

Image title

Keep in mind that law enforcement officers may still carry firearms, regardless of sign postings.

Businesses must post the sign at every public entrance to the business.  We recommend that the signs be posted at patios, backdoors and other portals that could arguably be considered a public entrance.  If you want to prohibit guns, better safe than sorry.

Carrying a gun on a property with proper signage is a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $500.

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