The team at Rising Tide Consultants has been researching avenues to help industry in the defence against the Government’s Minors as Agents program.
The Minors as Agents program is funded and regulated by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, whereby “youthful-appearing adults” are recruited to attempt to purchase liquor on the Branch’s behalf. The issue is the agents can often appear older, and if a judgment call is made to not ask for ID, the business can be in some very hot water.
One of the key resources Rising Tide has discovered is a revolutionary POS and Payment Processing System all in one convenient hand held device. Endorsed by Forbes as the #1 restaurant POS system with over 93,000 restaurant locations around the world, Toast is now available in Canada.
The functionalities are 100% geared towards hospitality venues with one very important one that will aid in prevention of a $7,000 fine and possible subsequent 21 day suspension of your liquor license, which are the penalties if you are caught in non-compliance with the Minors as Agents program.
You can customize the POS to default to an initial screen reminding the service staff to check for valid ID that requires acknowledgment before they are allowed to proceed to processing any order. This should not only prevent the service of alcohol to minors, but if an infraction does occur, then you have a strong defence of due diligence.
There is also an SOS functionality that the service staff can press a button that immediately communicates a distress message to your desired printer location in the event of an intoxicated, belligerent or difficult customer interaction. This is mapped to the table directly and is invisible to the customer.
For more information on Toast and deeper insight on how you can guard your business against the MAP, contact us directly.
Vancouver City Council met Wednesday, Dec 13, 2023 on some very important issues for Industry.
We are proud to be a member of the Hospitality Task Force with key industry partners, including the BCRFA, ABLE BC, Restaurants Canada, The Craft Brewer’s Guild and the BCHA that has been advocating to the city on the following key issues. We are pleased to report some impactful wins! Vancouver is no longer “No Fun City.”
The existing licensing moratoriums for Granville Street, Chinatown and Gastown have been eliminated so those areas of Vancouver are now open for new business licenses or expansion of existing licensed establishments.
“With respect to the moratorium on Granville Street, my view is moratoriums just prop up the dinosaurs, it does not allow for creativity, innovation, and a new opportunity to breathe life in. You’re just propping up the cheap bars, with cheap drinks, and you end up with drunks. I think you need to have that creativity and innovation to allow us to compete with other cities.” ~Bert Hick, Founder and President Rising Tide Consultants
The distancing requirements of licensed establishments has also been eliminated, clearing the way for more licensed establishments of similar size.
The licensing of retail business with liquor primary licenses, such as Spas, Beauty Salons and Retail Stores has now been approved. This will allow for these types of businesses to serve alcohol to their patrons along with their regular retail business.
These are very positive outcomes and we are proud to have been an integral part of bringing these changes to the City of Vancouver. We promise to continue our mission to streamline processes, slash red tape and eliminate antiquated policies for the benefit of our tourism and hospitality industries.
We are sharing some important information with you that the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch sent out October 18, 2023.
Rising Tide is strongly opposed to this initiative at this time when our Industry is faced with so many other challenges. If you would like guidance with how to set your Food Primary establishment up for success in the face of this new action, please reach out to us. We are here to help!
Read the LCRB communication here:
We want to let you know that Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) inspectors are now visiting Food Primary (FP) establishments across the province to help identify instances of “Operating Outside of Licence Purpose.” This means operating a restaurant without a primary focus on the service of food, like a bar or nightclub.
As you know, FP licences are issued to businesses whose primary purpose is food service. Liquor sales are intended to complement the dining experience and not be the primary activity.
Operating any section of your FP establishment as a bar or nightclub, where the primary activity is the service of alcohol, is contrary to the public interest and constitutes a serious violation.
Why? Unlike Liquor Primary (LP) licences, which require public and local government or First Nation input, FP licences don’t have the same requirement. Securing a liquor licence for a restaurant and then operating any section of your establishment as a bar or nightclub, where the primary activity is the service of alcohol and not food, circumvents that important process. Establishments that operate outside of their primary purpose can become focal points for community complaints, including disturbances related to noise, unruly behaviour, and intoxicated patrons.
This inspection program is meant to ensure licensees are following the regulations associated with their specific licence category. If non-compliance is identified, the LCRB may find it necessary to institute enforcement measures, including:
monetary penalties ranging from $7 000 to $11 000 or,
a licence suspension of 7-11 days.
We want to remind all licensees of their responsibility to ensure that every facet of your service area follows the definition of an FP establishment when serving liquor. This means you must comply with the following requirements outlined in your licensee handbook:
• Kitchen equipment:
The kitchen must be fully equipped to produce food on your full menu and must be open and staffed whenever liquor is served.
The menu must include a reasonable variety of appetizers and main courses, which must be available whenever liquor is available. Serving salsa, chips, peanuts, and other types of “finger food” is not enough to meet this requirement.
• Furnishings and lighting:
The décor must be suitable for dining and table service. You must have enough tables, chairs and food service equipment (glasses, plates, etc.) to serve full meals to patrons.
• Entertainment and games:
Any entertainment and games offered must not distract from the service of food (see “Entertainment” section for more detail).
The name of your restaurant must not mislead the public regarding your primary purpose. For example, you cannot call yourself “Joe’s Bar” but “Joe’s Bar and Grill” is acceptable as food service is also represented in the name.
• Operating hours:
You must operate as a restaurant whenever you serve liquor. Restaurants cannot shift their operation to become a bar during certain hours of the day, unless you have obtained a liquor primary licence, which enables you to operate your establishment as a bar when it is not operating as a restaurant.
• Financial records:
You must make all financial records and receipts available for review upon request. Your financial records must demonstrate that your restaurant is involved primarily in food service.
Your advertising may not primarily focus on liquor service or entertainment in your establishment. This includes but is not limited to, online advertising, social media, signage, menu, and any associated material.
Our main goal is to maintain established standards within the industry. We hope to work together with all licensees to achieve these goals. Your cooperation is essential in ensuring a fair and compliant environment for everyone involved.
If you have any questions about your licence or these requirements, please reach out to the client support team at LCRBLiquor@gov.bc.ca.
UPDATED INFORMATION FROM THE LCRB OCTOBER 24, 2023:
The LCRB recognizes most Food Primary (FP) licensees are already operating in compliance with their licenses.
The purpose of the LCRB’s previous communication was to provide operators with essential information to help review their operations and ensure that their business decisions align with the compliance requirements of their licence type.
The LCRB is committed to supporting all operators in maintaining compliance and making informed business choices that benefit their establishments.
The LCRB will employ a wide variety of criteria to inform the program and where inspections take place, considering factors like entertainment, advertising, customer complaints, and other relevant aspects of FP operations.
It’s important to note that banquets and events like weddings are not within the scope of this inspection program. This initiative primarily focuses on the day-to-day operations of Food Primary (FP) establishments.
The inspection program is designed to work collaboratively with licensees, offering support and guidance to help ensure compliance. Enforcement action may be initiated for egregious instances of non-compliance or where other efforts have not achieved voluntary compliance.
Think the Minors As Agents Program doesn’t apply to you? Think again
The ‘Minors as Agents’ program is ramping up inspections and enforcement. Are you prepared? Rising Tide provides support, knowledge and expertise in all facets of liquor licensing, compliance and enforcement issues. One of the hot topics facing the industry right now is the MINORS AS AGENTS program.
Although it is commonly thought that retail liquor stores are the main targeted businesses for this initiative, it actually applies to all liquor primary, food primary, restaurants, pubs, cannabis stores as well as retail liquor stores.
The Minors as Agents program is funded and regulated by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, whereby “youthful-appearing adults” are recruited to attempt to purchase liquor on the Branch’s behalf from businesses selling liquor or cannabis. The youthful appearance of the agents is intended to raise concerns by employees as to whether or not the agents were minors and proceed to require two pieces of proper identification before the purchase of liquor or cannabis is allowed. The issue is the agents can often appear older, and if a judgment call is made to not ask for ID, the business can be in some very hot water.
The first infraction is a $7,000 FINE or 7 day suspension. If you pay this fine and the infraction goes on your permanent record, then your second or subsequent infractions within a calendar year (and you can be sure that they will be targeting your establishment again) could result in a higher fine or up to a 21-DAY SUSPENSION of your liquor license.
Rising Tide Consultants are experts on this program, so we can help your business take measures to protect against the risks and penalties and, if necessary, fight a non-compliance charge alongside you. We also do audits of licensed establishments to make sure they can pass a routine inspection by ensuring the proper policies and procedures are in place. Contact us now and learn how to avoid falling victim to this targeted program. Government is increasing its focus and has been ramping up inspections and enforcement last year, and it will be continuing in 2023.
Rising Tide can provide you with updated Policy and Procedure manuals, training on ID protocols and placement of appropriate ID signage within your establishment so that your staff are armed with the right information and training to lay the proper groundwork to avoid penalties or dispute a charge if you are caught in non-compliance.
We’re here to help. Contact Us Your Initial Consultation is Complimentary.
Bert Hick, President & Founder of Rising Tide Consultants, spoke March 8th at the Standing Committee on City Finance and Services on Vancouver’s efforts to liberalize rules governing alcohol and the hospitality industry. Up for discussion was a “dual license” that would enable an establishment to serve food during the day and then transition into a bar in the evening.
Vancouver council considers three “dual licence” applications, from Cinema Public House and Cold Tea, both on the Downtown Granville strip, as well as Hamburger Mary’s in Davie Village.
Bert addressed Council asking for 2 Miracles.
“Miracle #1 is to amend current legislation to allow new establishments that are opening to apply for a dual license right off the bat. Right now, you have to have an existing Class 1 or Class 2 license in order to apply for a dual license.”
“Miracle #2 is to get rid of the antiquated policy that predates 2005 that simply does not work and doesn’t exist in any other city, regarding the minimum distance between certain classes of liquor primary establishments, when existing establishments are seeking dual licensing.”
Following Mr. Hick’s address to Council, we are pleased to announce that Cinema Public House has been approved for their dual license!
Anyone who wants to sell or supply alcohol is required to have a liquor license. This is true for organisations, businesses, and individuals alike. These licenses are mandatory, and they need to be kept in good standing for those who want to continue serving and selling alcohol.
What Is a Liquor License?
Just as you need a license to drive a motor vehicle, you need to have a license if you want to supply alcohol to a business or an individual. All manner of businesses involved in the sale of alcohol will need to have a license. This includes individual agents, restaurants, liquor stores, bars, breweries, etc. The type of license that you will need will differ, though. Let’s look at what types of liquor licenses exist today and learn a bit more about each of them.
What Types of Liquor Licenses Exist?
Below are six types of liquor licenses, and each applies to different situations.
An agent license is used by those who are going to be promoting and marketing liquor products that are produced by manufacturers outside of Canada. Interestingly, you will need to have two types of licenses if you want to be an authorized agent. These include the Agent License from the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, as well as an Import Agent License from the Liquor Distribution Branch.
The agent’s license will let you promote, market, and take wholesale orders for products. You can request and receive orders only from certain licensees. These include those who have a liquor primary license, a food primary license, licensee retail stores, and rural licensee stores, wine stores, and government liquor stores.
You are not allowed to sell directly to the public, and you can only import liquor products through the Liquor Distribution Branch.
Food Primary/Class A
This license is for businesses that have food as their primary source of business. There are a couple of types of licenses that fall under this category—those that allow minors into the establishment, such as a family restaurant that also sells alcohol, and those where liquor is the main source of business and food is secondary.
For a minors-allowed license, the food service must be available during all hours of liquor service. For the minors-prohibited license, the food service must be a minimum of snack food, such as nuts. Food service is not required after 11 p.m. There are also options for a manufacturer’s taproom license and a manufacturer’s lounge license.
Liquor Primary/Class B
Class B licenses are for the sale and consumption of alcohol in areas where people have to pay to enter. This would include things such as a stadium, a tourist location, or a convention center, for example. It can also be used by businesses that provide goods and services to the public where selling alcohol or food is not the primary purpose of their business.
Liquor Manufacturing/Class E
This is a license used for manufacturing. The Class E license can be used by a vintner, brewer, or distiller, for example. These are areas where the alcohol is manufactured and packaged. To qualify for the license, you will need to have a permanent facility. What types of liquor licenses exist beyond just for the manufacturer? You will find these can include estate manufacturers, as well as blending and packaging companies.
Liquor Retail Store/Class D
The Class D license is needed by any store that sells alcohol that is meant to be consumed off the premises. Retail liquor stores are the primary types of businesses that would need this license. The same is true of grocery stores. This could also include a facility that makes and sells alcohol to the public or special event liquor licensees. Delivery service companies, commercial caterers, and even church supply businesses that sell sacramental wine will need this type of license.
A tied house liquor license is becoming more popular because there are more and more wineries, distilleries, and breweries that are offering places on-site where people can buy and sample the company’s wares. With a tied house license, the holder is not required to sell a variety of brands. They can simply sell and serve what they make.
As you can see, there are many types of liquor licenses. Which one of these applies to your business?
What are your responsibilities when it comes to serving alcohol? What should you do and what must you avoid? If you are operating a bar or restaurant, you need to be sure you know what you are doing to keep people safe and to ensure you aren’t held liable.
What Is Serving It Right?
Serving It Right is a mandatory self-study course that provides the education managers, servers, and licensees will need whenever they are serving alcohol. It provides them with the knowledge they need and effective techniques that will help to prevent problems associated with overserving customers.
Serving It Right helps to ensure that the service and sale of liquor are done within the bounds of the law, and it keeps everyone safe from harm that could arise from alcohol consumption. The course provides you with a host of liquor service tips to keep everyone happy and safe.
Who Needs Serving It Right?
Before working in a licensed establishment, every licensee, manager, and all staff need to have Serving It Right certification. Some of the examples of types of businesses—and the staff at those businesses—that will need to have people who have certification include:
Caterers that offer alcohol
Private liquor stores
Manufacturer sampling areas
Rural agency stores
Special event permit holders where alcohol will be served
If you are in doubt over whether you or your staff will need to have Serving It Right certification, you can check with Responsible Service BC.
The Course and the Exam
The course you will take covers a host of topics that are important for those who are working in the industry. Some of the areas that are covered include legal liability, signs of intoxication, reducing overconsumption, reducing impaired driving, preventing the sale of alcohol to a minor, reducing the risk of violence, duty of care (on and off the premises), and the need to create and enforce responsible beverage service policies. The goal is to help get people up to speed with what they need to do when selling or serving alcohol.
The course is available online. It takes four hours and is mobile-friendly, so it can be taken on a phone for those who may not have access to a computer. They do recommend that you complete it on a PC or laptop though, as it will be easier to interact with the course.
The cost for the exam is #35 and includes three attempts at passing the exam. If you don’t pass after the third try, you can pay another $35 to try again.
Below are some tips that will help ensure your establishment is serving alcohol properly and safely.
Tip #1: Know When Someone Is Intoxicated
Sometimes, it is easy to tell when someone has had too much to drink. Other times, it isn’t. You need to look for signs that someone may be acting differently from when they entered the establishment. Notice how they walk, talk, and interact with others to look for signs of intoxication.
Tip #2: Minimize Legal Risk
There are several ways that you can reduce your legal risk. You want to make sure that you control the environment and that you don’t serve anyone who is intoxicated. Watch behaviours and call the police if needed.
Tip #3: Create a House Policy
You should work to create a house policy for serving and selling alcohol that abides by the law. It may even be stricter if you would like. Make sure everyone who is working at the restaurant knows the house policy and enforces the rules fairly for everyone.
Tip #4: Check for ID
You may want to implement a policy that requires the check of two forms of ID to ensure that it’s valid. This reduces the chance of someone using a fake ID to buy alcohol.
Remember the Expiration Date
Keep in mind that the Serving It Right certificate is not good forever. It is only good for five years. At that point, you will need to take the exam again and get a new certificate. You will want to keep the dates of expiration handy for yourself and your employees, so you never have a point where someone doesn’t have proper certification.
The liquor service tips above will help to keep your establishment safe from liability, in compliance with the law, and will keep your customers safe. Serving It Right helps everyone.
Recently, it seems all but impossible to buy a liquor store license in Vancouver, BC. In addition, moratoriums or prohibitions have been placed on nearly every significant type of liquor license in the area. To make these processes more manageable, here are the Top Guidelines When Buying Liquor License.
These restrictions have left prospective business owners trying to serve alcohol with a limited number of options legally.
Currently, the only licenses business owners can apply for are Liquor Primary and UBrew/UVin. Unfortunately, these restrictions limit the potential new business options to bars and nightclubs or homebrew enthusiast stores.
However, careful attention to detail highlights these licenses as options for new establishments.
There are a few expensive loopholes for would-be business owners in the region, and we’ll go into detail about those options. But, first, let’s examine the specific restrictions that have been placed on new retail establishments.
Limited Liquor License Options: Vancouver, BC Prohibitions
Prohibitions are in place for new LRS (licensee retail stores) until July 1, 2022. So if your goal were to open a private liquor store that sells multiple types of alcohol (wine, spirits, beer, etc.), you’d have to wait until the above date.
However, the following businesses have an indefinite moratorium period, meaning currently, there’s no end in sight for the restrictions.
1. A Wine Store
Independent wine retailers, Vintners Quality Alliance, and tourism wine stores fall under wine stores. The only option available for merchants who want to open a wine store is to transition to an LRS license and wait until July to submit their application.
2. Specialty Wine Stores
Specialty wine stores have extensive wine selections like their regular wine store counterparts. The main difference is that specialty wine stores can also sell ciders, mead, and sake. These specialty wine stores are only located within grocery stores.
An indefinite moratorium exists for this type of license as well. Even in periods without restrictions, the rules placed on potential applicants rule out nearly all would-be merchants.
In addition, the store has to be 10,000 square feet, eliminating almost every type of grocer except big-box retailers.
Alternative Liquor License Options: Vancouver, BC Prohibitions
As we mentioned earlier on the first part of these top guidelines when buying a liquor license, it could be an expensive loophole to the prohibitions set forth by the Canadian government. So technically, these can be considered loopholes, but we’re not sure if we would consider them realistic loopholes.
Dormant SWS licenses are available to retailers through auctions hosted by the BC government. Unfortunately, we’re not entirely clear on what the term dormant license means. Regardless, you would think these auctions offered hope for BC retailers who otherwise had the door shut on their business options.
However, a starting bid of $125,000 hardly constitutes a glimmer of hope. It’s starting to seem like obtaining a liquor license in Vancouver, BC, is more challenging than winning the lottery.
These expensive auctions that give merchants the option to purchase an existing liquor license offer no real hope. Prohibitions are shutting the door even further on potential business owners.
However, this is only a part of the uphill battle retailers have to climb to open a new business and receive their license. So let’s forget about the prohibitions and license auctions for a moment.
When the restrictions for submitting applications were not in place, the process looked like for wannabe merchants to open a new establishment that served alcohol.
First, you would need the approval of your local government even to attempt to navigate this complicated process. Once the government gives you the thumbs-up, you can move on to the following approval process.
The second step is petitioning the neighbours (surrounding businesses and residents) in an approval process that includes more fees. Believe it or not, you have to pay for the privilege to ask your neighbours to accept the idea of your potential business in the area.
Once your neighbours have given you their blessing, you must return to the government for final approval. First, they will review where your last address is for the business. During this step, they can decline your application if the company is too close to social or recreational establishments or too many companies in the area serve alcohol.
It isn’t far-fetched to say that opening a new retail liquor establishment and obtaining your license is an impossible mission. But, unfortunately, the prohibitions make it impossible to run the application process’s gauntlet, and purchasing an existing license is not financially possible for most smaller merchants.
The only plausible option that exists for prospective business owners would be to buy an already established location. Purchasing a business gives you ownership of the traffic that frequents the area.
A license is already attached to that business. At least, choosing this option ensures you have established customers, and your money goes towards ownership and not a government auction.
Were these Top Guidelines When Buying Liquor License helpful? Let us know; we want to help you make your business come true.
Getting your liquor license in BC is a comprehensive process. The licensing process for any liquor establishment requires outlining precise details that describe your intent as a merchant.
Applicants must choose between an expansive list of different establishment categories and fulfill background check requirements. There is also an approval process that requires permission from the local government and a petition from residents around the intended business location.
It sounds like a very time-consuming process to obtain a simple license. Without the proper preparation and guidance, it isn’t hard to let the process get away from you and become discouraging. However, with a few simple steps to prepare yourself, the process is easily simplified.
If you’ve been thinking about obtaining a liquor license, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got tips on the fast way to get your liquor license in BC.
Deciding What Type of License
Before beginning the process, you need to have a clear picture of your business’s details. Deciding what type of license you want is crucial before going further into the process—knowing what license is critical to finding a fast way to get your liquor license in BC.
They are primarily mobile and serve a variety of wine and cocktail drinks
Businesses that specialize in fans of homebrewing will need a UBrew/UVin license
Wine store licenses are reserved for establishments that specialize in a massive wine list. These locations will offer wine products exclusively
Specialty wine locations require a license that allows them to sell wine, sake, mead, and champagne inside of a retail grocery store space
Choosing the type of license you need and becoming familiar with the specified timeframe the license granting takes will prepare you for starting the process.
Have Everything Filled Out for a Fast Way to Get Your Liquor License In BC
This step sounds simple, but having everything organized is easier said than done. The different sets of paperwork combined with the steps involved can quickly become confusing
Different paperwork is designated for each step, and it takes organization to ensure an efficient process. Of course, you can accomplish this organization on your own, but some services can assist in making the process smoother.
Templates are available that outline every step of the application process. These templates outline everything in order and organize all the pertinent paperwork required for each step. Obtaining a template through the appropriate source is similar to having a certified assistant available to help keep you organized and on track.
Preparing before you get to specific steps can assist in the speed of the application process. For example, one of the steps includes petitioning residents and businesses in the area to allow you to become a merchant.
In the months leading up to this step, familiarize yourself with the locals close to your desired business location. Inform them you plan on opening a business in the area and fill them in on the specifics. Let them know you’ll be petitioning for their approval on the business, and you’d like their support.
Assure the locals that by supporting you, they’ll receive your support in return. Make your presence known in local businesses in the months before starting the petition. This will show them you’re willing to support the community, and you’ll have a solid base of support when the time arrives to complete this step.
For a Fast Way to Get Your Liquor License In BC, Consider Buying a Business
There is currently a moratorium on all new liquor license applications. The only exception to this is the liquor-primary license; this means your options are extremely limited.
You can adjust to these restrictions by purchasing an already existing liquor license. The easiest way to accomplish this is by buying an already established business. This accomplishes several important tasks at once.
When you purchase an already established business, you have a turn-key operation with a customer base. You’ll also eliminate the waiting process that comes with applying.
Both of these steps involve a lot of time, and industry time is of the essence in the service. Therefore, if you’ve been considering opening any establishment that requires a liquor license, you should consider obtaining the license by purchasing an existing business.
The existence of these restrictions makes it nearly impossible to open for business traditionally, and you have to leave your options open. Choosing this route may cost more, but the investment is paid back tenfold. The customer base you receive with an established business and the waiting that is eliminated by obtaining an approved license are both priceless.