Those in the alcoholic beverage industry across Florida can feel somewhat cornered into their section of the industry. Many times, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It gives businesses a chance to excel at something they’re good at and simplifies the notoriously complicated process of securing the proper licenses.
However, there are times where businesses may wish to expand, yet need clarification on the law before doing so. We recently filed a Petition for Declaratory Statement on behalf of Flagami Liquors, LLC. Flagami wished to sell and serve alcoholic beverages for consumption at catered events. While such petitions are frequently withdrawn or denied, this petition was recently granted.
Flagami Liquors is a liquor store and 3PS quota licensee located in Miami. The 3PS quota license permits them to sell packaged alcoholic beverages for consumption off premises only. Flagami sought to serve alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises of a catered event away from their licensed location. The catered event would serve food prepared by a licensed caterer.
Flagami noted that previously whenever it applied to be the alcoholic beverage caterer at a catered event, their application was denied. Indeed, Florida law states that a 3PS quota license authorizes packaged sales of beer, wine and liquor – but not for consumption on premise. In order to seek official guidance on the matter, we worked with Flagami to petition for a declaratory statement.
What is a declaratory statement?
Businesses can petition for a declaratory statement to provide clarification or an interpretation of the law from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, on certain matters. As outlined in a previous blog, there are two requirements to request a declaratory statement:
- The petitioner must have standing, meaning that they must be significantly affected by the law or rule they are calling into question; and
- The petitioner must list the specific law or rule before explaining how it applies in their situation. The more specific information they can provide, the better.
Declaratory statements can provide guidance on gray areas of the law where a business may want reassurance that what they wish to do is indeed lawful.
Petition is granted!
The Division ruled that as a quota license holder, Flagami is in fact permitted to serve alcoholic beverages at catered events without the need for additional licensure.
The Division outlined that despite the 3PS quota license solely allowing for package sales for off-premises consumption, Flagami as the petitioner met the caterer exception as stated in section 561.20(2)(a)5, Florida Statues. This exception explicitly states that vendors licensed under section 565.02(1)(a) may “serve or sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises of a catered event at which prepared food is provided by a caterer licensed under chapter 509” without an additional license. This section referenced governs Flagami’s alcoholic beverage license.
This petition opens the door for liquor stores across the state to cater alcoholic beverages at event. Many may have previously assumed this was not possible for a 3PS quota license holder or been denied by event coordinators as Flagami was.
This also underscores the importance of working with an attorney well versed in alcoholic beverage law. Many petitions for declaratory statements are withdrawn or denied due to avoidable errors, such as using too vague of language or not clearly linking why the law or rule in question applies to the situation. Working with an attorney can help ensure your business is positioned for success.