Who Sells Booze?

I have a few questions for operators who are currently selling alcohol:

If you could do it all again, would you?

Does more of your profit come from Food or alcohol?

Has alcohol brought in new food customers?

We’ve long thought about obtaining a liquor license for the purpose of selling 6 packs, drafts, and glasses of wine. Now our landlord is acquiring one and is interested in letting us have it while we pay him back over the long term.


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“pay him back over the long term”?? B&W licenses are are pita to get, depending on the city, but the actual permit is a nominal cost. Is your landlord acquiring a hard liquor license? Different animal and requires a whole new level of management.

I can’t comment on how various juristictions dole out licenses, or the cost of licenses, since all are different … but let me try to answer the question of whether your business would benefit from it. Absolutely!!! If you had the option of going out for pizza at 2 places, both with great pizza, but one also offered a few draft beers, a few craft beers in bottles and cans, and wine, which would you chose? Moreover, the margins on these offerings are more than worthwhile. And if you have a local craft beer brewer, sit down with him and tell him you want to feature his beers, but you need to equal or exceed the margins available through the established distributors … your customers will always appreciate that you’ve chosen to support local brewers … and the brewer might even want to do a few promotional nights that will benefit both of you.

Some pizza operators have worried about having to deal with drunks or disturbances. Those who are looking to go out and booze it up aren’t exactly the same folks who want to go out to get a great pizza and have a beer … unless you’re a honkey tonk knock-down drag-out joint who also bakes pizzas … then you’re gonna have a problem.

It’s a no-brainer. Do it, if the landlord isn’t going to try to get rich on the license.

A full R Liquor license in our county is 355k

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What? $355,000

Yes, 355k. Doing business in PA is tough. We’re going to ask him to look into strictly beer and wine.

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It would take a long time to repay (or pay out the finance of) $355K. If it’s that expensive, you might need to consider becoming a bar that sells pizza, instead of the other way around. What I mean by that is that you probably need to consider stuff like the number of bar seats, comprehensive draft systems, adequate refrigeration needs, etc… And that also sounds like a package sale operation too … you know, to go … now you’re talking about a completely different kind of business.

I was almost joking… thinking you surely made a typo… $3500, $35000… Well, ok then.
I’m looking into one now- just bottled beer.

It would be completely new to us, but we would be thinking of just wine with drafts and 6 packs to go. Obviously we wouldn’t need the full R license. The county we are in is just exploding with development, all young families. Our landlord pretty much owns the borough we are in and there is only one liquor license available that he has has first right to.

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I wish it were that cheap. Probably 10-15 years ago a license see could’ve been had for 50k, maybe less. Somehow the state, and county, are making a fortune on this

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Thanks for your input! We wouldn’t be changing our hours and we wouldn’t want to be a bar. But e would like to provide our guests with alcoholic beverages to enhance their experience And game some customers we’ve never been able to reach before

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I know what you are saying is true about a liquor license, In Idaho the state controls them and they only issue so many per population of the city/town. They have been sold for $500,000 or even higher to the person that owns one. I do know that some people lease them. As far as beer is concerned anyone can get one for 250.00 ($50 for state, $100 each for city and county.) I would not recommend doing pizza with out beer. One place in my town tries to do it but I think they suffer.

What percentage of sales is alcohol for you? Are you delivery and carryout as well on pizza?

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Yes I do both delivery and dine in and delivery. Beer is a small percentage of my sales, however I tried going with just bottled beer a few years ago and regretted that decision, since I pissed off quite a few customers by not having any draft beer. So now I have both. I have 5 taps and 4 different bottles. I make more profit on pop than I do on beer.

I have a full bar. 12 taps, 50 different bottled beers, hard liquor as well (20 whiskeys, 6 gins, 6, vodkas, etc…). In fact We planned to open a bar and ended up with a pizza pub as the pizza became quite the draw. I do anywhere from 20 to 75% alcohol sales depending on the night (weekdays are definitely more pizza oriented, Last Saturday was one with 75% alcohol sales) I’m a barman at heart and I love that aspect of the business even though I’ve been back in the kitchen training the new guys for the past month. Over here a liquor license costs like 500$ and 30 minutes of paperwork filing so no big deal though. That said drunk people do dumb stuff and I’m actually thinking of opening a second take-out/delivery only location that would not deal with any liquor. There’s tons of money to be made with booze, but there’s also a ton of work behind it too. I have 5 bartenders so labor right there is nuts. Then you have to worry about theft (over-pouring is theft for example) not to mention you have to know all of the cocktails, beers, liquor, it’s a whole other thing that you have to step your game up on. At a minimum if the licensing is an issue beer a wine are musts. Wine by the glass has been very profitable. just keep you selection small so you don’t have 6 open bottles turning to vinegar. We do a house red and a house white served chilled and never have to worry about it going off. before I used to have a wine list that I sold only by the bottle with 5 different wines and they never moved. Draft beer is fine if you have a good system for it. avoid long draft lines. maybe even look at getting a freestanding kegerator kind of thing (Our Heineken rep wanted to give us one for free! I said no though because of the design of my bar I would have nowhere to put it, and we do more craft beer so Heineken isn’t really a good fit). If I could do it again I’d probably go with 6 or 8 drafts instead of 12. 12 is pushing it for us. more than that and I’d be worried about the freshness of the beer. Again though your size and customer base will determine how fast you go through stuff.

Thank you for the detailed response! You make a lot of great points!

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