Bill Would Provide Tax Credits to Help Existing License Holders
(TRENTON) – Assemblyman John Burzichelli on Wednesday said he’s introduced legislation to help spark economic development and job creation by creating a new type of restaurant liquor license, all while protecting the value of existing liquor licenses.
Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem) noted that under current state law a municipality may not issue a new license unless and until the combined total number of licenses in the municipality is less than one for each 3,000 people.
“As a result of this restriction, there’s an insufficient number – or complete lack – of available licenses in many municipalities, inflating the value of existing licenses and forcing prospective restaurateurs to buy a license at an exorbitant price or simply operate without a license,” Burzichelli said. “This has created an unfair situation for many restaurant owners.”
Burzichelli said allowing restaurants to get a newly created license makes sense, as long as it’s coupled with relief for existing license owners, so his bill proposes tax credits to the holders of existing licenses to compensate them for any devaluation of their licenses.
“The presence of new restaurants serving alcoholic beverages in a municipality often promotes real estate development, contributes to the municipal revitalization and enhances the overall quality of life for residents and visitors,” he said. “Still, I realize the introduction of a new restaurant license that is not subject to a population formula may cause existing plenary retail consumption licenses to lose value, thus creating the need to compensate certain existing license holders by issuing tax credits.”
The bill (A-4267) creates a restricted restaurant license that permits the holder to sell any alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises. In addition, the bill creates a restricted beer and wine license that permits the holder to sell only beer and wine by the bottle or can.
These licenses would only be available for use in connection with restaurants that occupy a minimum square footage of 1,500 and a maximum square footage of 6,000 and maintain a full-service kitchen with a minimum square footage of 500.
The governing board or body of a municipality may issue an unlimited number of these licenses within the municipality.
Under the provisions of the bill, alcoholic beverages only may be sold in connection with the service of food at a table by an employee of the restaurant, and may begin at noon or one hour prior to the service of food, whichever is later in time, and continue until 10 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday, and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
A copy of the full bill is attached to this release.
“The goal here is to foster and encourage economic development and growth in this state by creating a new less-costly restaurant license that permits the licensee to sell alcoholic beverages,” Burzichelli said. “Meanwhile, providing financial compensation to licensees who already have established businesses and paid market value for their licenses is the right thing to do. In this day and age, this bill is common sense.”