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

Tennessee distilleries do their part for hand sanitizer shortage



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



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



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.


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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How to support your local watering hole in Nashville



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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Coronavirus interrupts beer board licensing in Tennessee



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.


John Cooper

Mayor of Metropolitan Government of Nashville

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New version of RLPS goes live in Tennessee



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


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?


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.


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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


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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Flaherty-O’Hara at the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators’ annual Central-Western Regional Conference

Flaherty & O’Hara is pleased and honored to attend and be an invited panel member at the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators’ annual Central-Western Regional Conference in Portland, OR, September 9-11, 2019. Our partner R.J. O’Hara participated on a panel discussing the character of possible future alcohol operations as they evolve over the next […]

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Tennessee passes plethora of new liquor laws in 2019


Tennessee passes plethora of new liquor laws in 2019

Aug 26, 2019

Here are this year’s highlights from the 2019 legislative session when it comes to liquor laws.

College Sports Sales. P.C. 99 amended the alcohol code’s definition of “sports authority facility” to include “any facility on the campus of a public institution of higher education that is designed and used for school-sanctioned sporting events.” In effect, the law allows the lawful selling of wine, beer, and other alcoholic beverages at more collegiate stadiums and arenas. This is a major jump from last year’s related legislation, which defined “sports authority facility” narrowly and only allowed alcohol at MTSU and TSU. P.C. 99, on the other hand, applies to all counties.

This legislation comes at an opportune time, as the SEC lifted its ban on stadium-wide alcohol sales and allowed individual schools to decide if hooch could be sold at college games. The University of Tennessee’s concessionaire was recently approved for beer and wine sales at Thompson-Boling Arena, Neyland Stadium and Regal Soccer Stadium. The Alice Cooper show at Thompson-Boling will be the historic first show at UT with booze.

We understand that Vanderbilt University is currently debating whether to fall in line with other SEC schools that allow alcohol sales.

Alcohol Sales at the Zoo. P.C. 300 may bring out your inner party animal. As of this May, it became legal for the Nashville and Knoxville Zoos to sell alcohol during regular hours. You can now take your kids to zoo … and enjoy it even more. P.C. 300, which can be found here, amends a law that explicitly prohibited the sale of wine, beer, or alcoholic beverages during regular operating hours outside of special fundraising events.


Premier Type Tourist Resorts. The following premier-type tourist resorts received approval, which will allow on-premises alcohol consumption:

Hermitage Golf Course in Davidson County Legacy Farms in Lebanon Weir Park in Clay County Center for the Arts in Murfreesboro El Fogon Restaurant in Hixson Lebanon Theater in Lebanon The Blake at Kingsport in Kingsport Legacy Farms in Lebanon Flat Hollow Marina in Campbell County The 121 Hotel in Nashville Central Park in Livingston Sip-n-Scoop in College Grove 

Server Permits. P.C. 435 reduced the training time to 3.5 hours. Previously, the ABC required five hours of training.


Wine and Wineries. This year’s legislature enacted a slew of laws about wine. 2019 saw the creation of the Tennessee Wine and Grape Board, to support the growth of Tennessee’s wine industry. P.C. 444 gives the Governor the job of dubbing five individuals (of the seven that compose the board) to certain positions, including one grape producer and two members who are involved in the production, marketing, sales, journalism, or education of the industry. Among the Board’s goals will be to increase winery numbers and improve wine quality.


Conjures up the overplayed tune Brandy by one-hit wonder Looking Glass:

Brandy, you're a fine girl (you're a fine girl)

What a good wife you would be (such a fine girl)

Yeah, your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea

We’re going to need a bottle of fine Tennessee wine to get that song out of our heads and forget those sexist lyrics.

P.C. 74 further erodes the three-tier system for wine. The bill eliminates wholesalers for distribution to satellite facilities for wineries that pay taxes on 50,000 gallons or less of wine during a calendar year. For larger wineries, the law is now permissive, allowing wineries that produce more than 50,000 gallons to self-distribute to satellite facilities, at the option of the wholesaler.


What’s in a name? P.C. 263 renamed the “direct shipper’s license” in Tennessee’s Code’s alcohol licensing provisions to “winery direct shipper’s license.” Was anyone confused about not being able to ship spirits?

WIGS. P.C. 136 removed a pesky requirement for food store retailers. Before this bill’s time, grocery stores were required to obtain a new certificate of compliance from the local government every two years. Now, the certificate will remain legit unless a change of ownership or location occurs. The catch? It doesn’t apply to liquor stores.

The bill does make life a bit harder for retail food stores selling wine: now, each retail food store has to include the first and last name of all clerks for purposes of Tennessee’s responsible vendor training program. Before amending this provision, retail food stores were only required to pay a fee corresponding to however many certified clerks the store had. Now, stores will have a few more hoops to jump through.

Speaking of clerks, P.C. 136 reduced training time for WIGS and responsible beer vendor clerks from 2 to 1 hour. Now, WIGS clerks responsible beer vendor applicants can become certified with only one hour of training.


Distilleries & Manufacturers. A parity bill passed this session, extending the hours a distillery can sell its products on Sundays and abolishing a relic from pre-ABC days. Now, distilleries are able to sell on Sundays during the same hours as retailers (10 AM until 11 PM).

The bill also did away with a sunset provision that would have precluded distilleries from having interests in restaurants through a trust. Distilleries can continue to have a direct or indirect interest in a restaurant that has a license for on-premises consumption -- so long as the interest is held in an irrevocable distillery trust.

Distilleries can now allow open carry of beer, wine and spirits from an adjacent LBD and have common premises under Section 4 of P.C. 435. 


No more Revenue Manufacturing License.  This year’s legislature did away with another pre-ABC artifact via P.C. 301. The law abolished the $1,000 privilege tax that distilleries, wineries and high gravity brewers were obligated to pay to the county.


Beale Street.  P.C. 435 allows bars and restaurants in the Beale Street Historic District to serve customers seated at tables along the outside wall of the establishment, provided Memphis allows the practice.  Note that this section does not specifically impact the service of beer, just wine, high gravity beer and spirits.


Scooters and Booze. Scooters are now considered motor-driven vehicles for the purposes of DUI laws. Previously, Tennessee’s Motor and Other Vehicles laws did not specifically include scooters. Seeing as scooters have become Nashville’s newest Millennial plague – the Hot Tub Party Bus may be a close second – and caused numerous tragic accidents, it is no surprise that the legislature has now targeted scooters directly.

The Tennessee Code’s Rules of the Road chapter now includes a new definition – “electric scooter” – and with it comes a host of liabilities for those who decide to take one of those death traps for a spin. The definition includes a requirement of having a maximum speed of no more than twenty miles per hour.

In enacting P.C. 388, this year’s legislature tacked on scooters to a law concerning electric bicycles. The new section of the electric bicycle law indicates that, although scooters are not subject to the Tennessee Financial Responsibility Law, the Uniform Classified and Commercial Driver License Act, and Title 55’s chapters regarding title and registration, they are subject to the laws that apply to bicycles and electric bicycles.

That means DUI laws now apply to scooters.

Another section added by this year’s legislature is worded like a threat. The newly enacted section states that, although scooters are excluded from certain chapters of the Code, nothing precludes counties, municipalities, or metropolitan forms of government from regulating, controlling, or banning the use and operation of scooters within its boundaries. The quasi-threat is subject only to a limitation that ordinances must be reasonably related to promoting and protecting the health and safety of riders, operators, pedestrians, and other motorists. We see this as part of an effort to combat safety risks, as Nashville Fire has reported over 70 scooter-related injuries in the past few months.

A failed wine bill bears mentioning. If enacted, the bill would have expanded the ability of art galleries to serve wine to gallery patrons by lowering from 90 percent to 80 percent the amount of revenue a gallery has to receive from artwork sales in order to serve wine free of charge. Certain versions of the amendment sought to allow galleries to also serve high alcohol content beer as well. Lawmakers certainly had the Nashville and Front Street Art Crawls in mind.


RIP. A host of bills never saw the light of day.

- A law designed to expand the amount of wine an individual could have shipped to their residence dies in committee. Were those Goose or Rooster fingerprints on that bill …

- A bill allowing publicly-elected officials to own a retail liquor store or wholesaler died this session. You know what they say. Don’t mix business with pleasure …

- Alcohol delivery apps like Drizly might have lost its Nashville presence if a bill unintentionally directed at the popular application had not died. The bill would have required alcohol delivery apps to apply for and obtain a delivery service license. We aren’t sure if this was a caption bill, but we do know that it failed.

- A bill to allow stronger wines in grocery stores was unsuccessful. It would also have permitted grocery stores to sell a wider variety of wine coolers.

- There must be a rumor going around that vaping and inhaling alcohol is quite popular in the Volunteer State. A bill extending the time a license is suspended (from 60 days to 90 days) for engaging in such activity came before the Tennessee legislature this year … again. Our question is this: does this doodad even exist in Tennessee? Of course, if it did, it would certainly have dangerous implications – especially for those who are calorie-conscious and could use the device to get drunk without the guilt. But we’ve found no evidence of these devices being used in Tennessee or any other state for that matter.

- An effort to deliver more money to local coffers by raising beer application fees failed this session. The now-deceased bill would have brought the cost of a beer permit more in line with liquor licenses, whose fees are generally much higher.

- High Gravity gets higher … Among this year’s failures was a bill that redefined “beer.” If this had passed, a beer with an alcohol content of 18% by volume or less would be regulated by counties, while beer with alcoholic content greater than 18% would be regulated by ABC.

- Although wineries are permitted to self-distribute in limited circumstances, an attempt to expand self-distribution to Tennessee breweries died in session this year.

- A bill increasing DUI penalties proved unsuccessful. The bill, which sought to increase the penalty for second and third DUI convictions to a Class E felony, would have prevented a large group of Tennesseans from holding liquor licenses or from obtaining server permits. Safe to say this is a death some in the industry aren’t grieving over.

Go Elizabeth!  A huge shout out to Summer Associate and Vanderbilt law student extraordinaire Elizabeth Boston for her assistance researching and writing this post.

Click here to learn more about Waller’s alcoholic beverage team.

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Are Certificates of Compliance headed for extinction in Tennessee for liquor and grocery stores?


Are Certificates of Compliance headed for extinction in Tennessee for liquor and grocery stores?

Aug 19, 2019

The Tennessee legislature recently eliminated the Certificates of Compliance requirement for renewal of wine in grocery store (which we affectionately call “WIGS”) licenses.  However, all new WIGS applications still require the dreaded Certificate of Compliance.

A recent rule change by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission eliminated the newspaper notice requirement for retail liquor stores to file Certificates of Compliance.  Like a tree falling in the woods, why bother if you don’t tell anyone about a new store.

Makes us wonder if the days of Certificates of Compliance might be numbered.

Beware: a handful of cities have local ordinances that require newspaper ads for Certificates of Compliance, including Metro Nashville.

Makes us want to play Jerrod Niemann’s overly auto-tuned hit Drink to That All Night:

Everybody knows, its gonna be one of those

I can drink to that all night

That’s the stuff I like

That’s the kind of party makes you throw your hands up high

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Flaherty & O’Hara Joins Women of the Vine & Spirits as a Corporate Member

Flaherty & O’Hara is proud to announce they have joined Women of the Vine & Spirits as a Bronze Corporate Member. Partners Kaitlynd Kruger and Chris O’Hara and Associate Ellen Freeman have joined as Member Employees. Women of the Vine & Spirits (WOTVS) is the world’s leading organization dedicated to empowering and advancing women in […]

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