Why are NJ liquor-license laws so strict and expensive?
Experts in the restaurant and beverage industry believe the most expensive liquor license in New Jersey was purchased for $1.8 million. That's just for the privilege to be able to stock your bar and then begin selling drinks.
Did you ever wonder why it costs so much and why the state even needs to get involved in the sale of liquor? Would every mom and pop restaurant or snack bar start selling booze and everyone get drunk all day? Would our women be less safe because somebody had a glass of wine at the diner down the street? Would there be a huge spike in drunk drivers running down people on the road? No. None of that is likely at all.
The real reason is this state's insatiable appetite for power and money. It's been this way since 1947. Each municipality limits the number of licenses according to population. Then there's the different categories of license, to sell for consumption on premises and to sell to take out.
Then there's the fact that the licenses can be sold privately and most bar owners are on the hook for an expensive license they bought from the state, that average about $350,000. That prices out most small operators and even some national chains are scared off by the pricey licensure. It's all a hindrance to growing business in the state and at least one legislator has a proposal to change that.
Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-West Deptford), is sponsoring bill A-2452. The proposal would offer lower cost licenses with limited beverage options, like beer and wine, but with no service bar. Great! But what about those full service joints that you held up for big ticket licenses that already bought the expensive one and could suffer from the increased cheaper competition?
Tax credits over five years for them.
Do you need a drink yet from following all of this mess? In New Jersey, the solution to the legislative pile of s--- they've created is always another stinkier pile of legislative s--- all in attempt to get more tax money from their stupid constituents. That would be you and me.
A few years ago I was hosting a cousin from Italy here on vacation. I took her to a small local restaurant and she asked for a glass of wine. The waitress looked at her as if she had just asked the lady to take off her top. I had to explain that this little place didn't have a liquor license. It took about 20 minutes to explain why a small eatery would need a license to sell a glass of wine to an adult patron. Even to a woman who grew up in the corrupt and chaotic political climate of Southern Italian politics had to laugh at the government over reach here in the Garden State.
This new proposal has been debated for the better part of this year. It may happen, but of course as everything in New Jersey, there will be some small winners and some big losers. But you can rest assured the big winner will be the ruling class in the over legislated, over regulated, ever taxing, bloated bureaucracy that is the State of New Jersey.
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