New Jersey

BYOB Restaurants in New Jersey Can Now Advertise

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New Jersey is notorious for its expensive liquor licenses—a result of its quota system that limits the number of licenses available—which unsurprisingly has led many restaurants in the state to allow “BYOB” booze. While BYOB establishments are popular among New Jerseyans, state law forbids restaurants from advertising that they are BYOB. But now a federal judge has struck down this restriction, according to the New Jersey Law Journal:

A federal judge has ruled that New Jersey’s law barring restaurants from advertising “bring your own beer” policies is unconstitutional.

The state ban on advertising policies that allow patrons to bring their own beer and wine to restaurants, known as BYOB, “places a content-based restriction on speech that fails strict scrutiny because it is not supported by a compelling government interest nor is it the least restrictive means of achieving the government’s stated purpose,” U.S. District Judge Joseph Rodriguez of the District of New Jersey ruled in GJJM Enterprises v. City of Atlantic City.

The state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control “presented no compelling government interest for banning BYOB advertising, while permitting liquor stores and restaurants with liquor licenses to advertise on-site alcohol sales,” Rodriguez said…

Read more here.


New Jersey Legislator Introduces Brewery Event Bill

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After the recent dustup that occurred when New Jersey alcohol regulators tried to limit the number of annual events breweries in the Garden State could host, a bill has been introduced in the state legislature to give breweries more flexibility. NJBiz.com has the story:

Sen. Vin Gopal introduced a bill Tuesday that would allow microbreweries to hold special events both on- and off-site with prior notifications to the Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Senate Bill 3155 requires notification 10 days prior to on-site events and 21 days prior to off-site, and notification of the host municipality.

The bill also allows microbreweries to use virtual tours to fulfill tour requirements and clarifies they do not need to fulfill tour requirements when selling products intended for off-premises consumption…

Read the rest here.

New Effort to Reform New Jersey Wine Shipping Laws

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Under New Jersey law, wineries that produce over 250,000 gallons a year are prohibited from selling directly to consumers in the Garden State. This law applies to both in-state and out-of-state wineries, and according to the Philadelphia Business Journal, New Jersey liquor store owners are the main opponents of reform:

A coalition calling itself Free the Grapes is pushing legislation that would allow major wine producers to ship bottles of their alcoholic libations directly to consumers in New Jersey.

Right now, the most prolific producers of wine are barred from shipping their products to individual buyers in the Garden State…

But the N.J. Liquor Store Alliance, which represents the retail side of the industry, is telling them to put a cork in it…

Read the whole article here.

New Jersey's Costly Liquor Licenses Continue to Hurt Restaurants

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New Jersey has long been known for its liquor license quota system, which as we’ve discussed in the past, artificially drives up the price of licenses in the state. Northjersey.com reports on how this is hurting the state’s dining scene and economy:

Peter Loria still recalls with disappointment the time he tried to open a restaurant in the Bergen County village of Ridgewood. He poured a chunk of his retirement savings into what he thought would become a destination for New Jersey food lovers, but he hit a common roadblock.

"I couldn’t get a liquor license," Loria, who owns Café Matisse in Rutherford, said of the 2007 project. "So it never opened. It was heartbreaking."

Loria is one of countless casualties of New Jersey’s notoriously restrictive laws governing who can sell alcohol. Those laws, which date back to the post-Prohibition era, limit municipalities to one liquor license per 3,000 residents. In places where demand is high, licenses can sell for $1 million or more — if they are available at all.

The result is a dining scene that, in the words of Morris Davis, a Rutgers professor who studies the economics of real estate and housing, is “diseased.” And more problematic still, the laws are seen by local officials as holding back efforts to revitalize downtownsand attract new, often younger residents.

New liquor license laws, experts say, could strengthen New Jersey’s economy…

Read more here.

New Jersey Regulators Back Off Onerous Brewery Rules

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We reported last week that New Jersey was planning to implement onerous new rules on craft breweries, such as limiting the number of events they could host during a calendar year. But now the state’s Division of Alcohol Beverage Control has announced that it will delay enactment of the rules (at least for now):

More than a week after levying a special ruling against microbreweries in New Jersey, the state Division of Alcohol Beverage Control is putting new regulations directed to the industry on hold.

ABC Director David Rible announced Tuesday the division would not enforce the special ruling issued in September that issued new regulations to businesses holding a limited brewery license.

"We want to make sure that we get this right," Rible said. "We are committed to supporting the state's growing craft beer industry, while also balancing the concerns of other stakeholders and ensuring compliance with state law."

Rible says suspending the special ruling will once again allow the ABC, craft brewers, legislators, alcohol beverage license holders, and other people affected by the division's decision to continue discussions to see if changes need to be made to the 2012 law that paved the way for so many new microbreweries to open across the state…

Read the rest here.

New Jersey Slaps New Rules on Craft Breweries

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Last week, the New Jersey Division of Alcohol Beverage Control issued a “special ruling” that imposes a bevy of limits and restrictions on craft breweries in the Garden State. NJ.com details the changes:

Say goodbye to weekly trivia nights, food truck Fridays and Eagles on the TV at your local craft brewery.

A new ruling issued by the state cracks down on what brewery owners will be allowed to do and now requires them to obtain special permits from the state — a decision that the craft beer supporters in New Jersey say will severely set back the burgeoning industry. However, restaurant and bar advocates say the rules will put brewery owners more in line with others in the alcohol industry.

The “special ruling” issued Monday by the New Jersey Division of Alcohol Beverage Control will affect the 88 limited breweries that are now operating in the state — many of which have opened since the state relaxed some of its laws in 2012 — as well as the 23 operations who have applications pending…

Some of the changes breweries are facing include the following:

  • Breweries can now only hold 25 “special events,” such as paint and sip nights, trivia nights, live televised sporting events and live music nights.

  • Breweries are limited to 12 special permits a year to sell products off the brewery premises such as festivals, athletic events, and other civic events.

  • Breweries are limited to 52 private parties (birthdays, weddings, anniversaries) a year.

  • They must electronically notify the ABC 10 days prior to holding the event

The breweries did gain the ability to sell items such as water, soda, pre-packaged crackers, chips, nuts and other similar snacks.

Customers can still bring in their own food, but the brewery can no longer have restaurant menus available, or coordinate with other vendors, such as food trucks, to provide food…”

Read more here.

Could New Jersey Finally Reform its Liquor License Quota System?

New Jersey is notorious for its liquor license quota system for restaurants, only allowing one license per 3,000 residents. This arbitrary limitation on supply has inflated the prices of these licenses beyond what many restauranteurs can even afford. In NJ.com, columnist Paul Mulshine discusses recent legislation that has advanced which would reform the state's quota system:

In 1947, the holders of liquor licenses managed to buy enough legislators to attain passage of a law that created an artificial monopoly on liquor sales.

This had the effect of pushing up the value of the licenses to levels that can now exceed $1 million. And that has had the effect of stymieing the growth of the state's restaurant industry.

That may be about to change. For the first time since that iron curtain descended there appeared a rip in it. That occurred last week when an Assembly committee advanced a bill that would finally open up the alcoholic beverage industry to competition...

The key argument that won the day was the role of restaurants as anchors for the sort of economic development so desperately needed now that retail stores are closing because of competition from the internet.

One couple who own a restaurant in Jersey City, and who brought along their baby for emotional impact, noted that New York never adopted New Jersey's practice of limiting liquor licenses. They said they had been living in Brooklyn when a boom in restaurants that serve drinks brought an economic revival.

Another couple who brought along a baby were Robert and Magdalena Pluta. They run Leonardo's restaurant in Lawrenceville just north of Trenton.

"The food costs are going up," Pluta told me. "It's hard to sell meatballs and linguini and make a profit. The mom-and-pop restaurants are struggling."...

Read the whole column here.