Pennsylvania Liquor Licenses on the Auction Block

September 14, 2016
Aaron K. Zeamer

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board released some big news yesterday.  The much anticipated auction of Restaurant Liquor Licenses is slated to take place at the end of October.  The PLCB issued a press release on Sept 13th announcing that 40 restaurant liquor licenses are going to be auctioned in this first round and inviting bids for those licenses.  For Lancaster County, 2 licenses will be available via this auction.  While this appears to be great news and may provide some much needed restaurant licenses to the market, the news is not without its problems.  Initially, from the language contained the PLCB’s release, it appears that a condition of the auction is the successful bidder will have to post the full amount of the purchase price within 2 weeks of being notified they were the highest bidder.  If licenses sell for anything close to the current market value, that could mean a successful bidder would have to pay in cash or other available funds upwards of $300,000.  That probably eliminates most true restaurateurs from the process and opens the door for large chain restaurants, grocery stores, and convenience stores to buy these licenses.

Much of the details of how this auction will function is still up in the air, but initially, it appears that the availability of these new licenses may only be good news for a small segment of businesses.

As more details emerge, I’ll post them here.

Aaron Zeamer is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He practices in a variety of areas including Business Law and Liquor License matters. Aaron works frequently with commercial real estate agents, brokers and restaurant and bar owners, breweries, distilleries, and wineries to facilitate the sale and transfer of PA liquor licenses.