On Jan. 16, 2024, NJ Gov. Phil Murphy signed a new bill (S-4265/A-5912) drastically changing NJ’s outdated liquor laws. The law aims to rejuvenate NJ’s craft alcohol industry and revive local economies and small businesses. It introduces significant changes in craft alcohol restrictions, revives inactive liquor licenses, and creates novel licensing opportunities for malls and farm breweries.
Some highlights of the new law are:
- Inactive/Pocket Licenses – Under the new law, license holders must either utilize or sell their retail consumption licenses if they’ve remained inactive for 2 consecutive license terms, and municipalities can reclaim licenses that have lapsed for 8 years, reissuing them for public use. This strategy is expected to reintroduce approximately 1,356 licenses to the market, a significant increase of 15% in active retail consumption licenses. Governor Murphy said he thinks the legislation will give people the “confidence to invest” and that bringing those pocket licenses back into use will be a game-changer for municipalities throughout the state.
- Mall Licenses- Additionally, the law establishes a new class of retail consumption liquor licenses specifically for shopping malls. This provision will issue up to 2 new licenses for food and beverage establishments in malls with a minimum of 750,000 square feet, and up to 4 licenses for malls exceeding 1.5 million square feet. This measure aims to enhance the viability of malls and brick and mortar locations, which have been struggling due to the pandemic and the proliferation of online shopping.
- Breweries, Cideries, Meaderies, and Distilleries – The law eliminates the long-standing burden that required these establishments to provide tours of the premises to patrons, while also allowing them to:
- Offer snacks and other non-alcoholic beverages;
- Collaborate with outside vendors including food trucks;
- Host unlimited onsite events and private parties, including birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and civic and political functions;
- Host up to 25 off-site special events; and
- Participate in up to 25 events hosted by the holder of a social affairs permit.
If you require assistance in selling or purchasing a liquor license or need general information regarding New Jersey state liquor law matters, our experienced attorneys at Hagner & Zohlman, LLC are here to guide you. Please contact us to schedule a consultation at 856-320-5322 or contact our offices online.