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Our attorneys stay on top of changes in legislation, agency regulations, case law, and industry trends—then craft timely legal alerts to keep clients up to date on legal developments important to their business.

January 27, 2022

Reeling 'Em in: New York State Liquor Authority Declares Movie Theaters Can Now Sell Beer and Wine

On January 19, 2022, the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) ushered in a new era for movie-goers in New York State. The SLA’s declaratory ruling authorizes movie theaters to apply for on-premises beer or wine licenses without the need for a restaurant menu or table services. Alcoholic beverage sales must be incidental to movie theater operations.  
The change by the SLA responds to a request by the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) for a declaratory ruling under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. Movie theaters remained one of the last nonrestaurant businesses prohibited from selling beer and wine incidental to their primary operations. Theaters could only sell beer and wine for consumption before or after the show in designated areas, absent a full kitchen and restaurant-style entrée offerings. The declaratory ruling is a blockbuster hit for movie theaters welcoming back customers after state-mandated shutdowns and disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the ruling is effective immediately, movie theaters need to apply for a license before selling beer or wine alongside popcorn and other offerings. Temporary permits authorizing beer and wine sales for 90 days while license applications are reviewed by the SLA are available for liquor license applicants. 

Attorneys on Barclay Damon’s Hotels, Hospitality & Food Service Team will continue to monitor developments pertaining to the SLA’s declaratory ruling and are available to assist businesses with each step of the liquor license application process.  

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Corey Auerbach, partner, at; David Solimeno, associate, at; Ari Goldberg, associate, at; or another member of the firm’s Hotels, Hospitality & Food Service Team.

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