As many of you may know, when a restaurant that is not currently licensed applies for a liquor license, protests are allowed and, in fact, encouraged by the Liquor Control Board. When the application is filed, the familiar orange placard is posted, signaling the beginning of the 30-day protest period. As a potential new licensee, how can you gauge if there will be protests during this period?
Who Will Protest?
When you’re applying for a PA liquor license, a question you will likely ask is, “How do I know whether or not there will be protests?” Let’s say that you’re applying to transfer a liquor license into the city of Pittsburgh in an area where there are already three licensed establishments across the street. Since they are within 200 feet of your proposed bar or restaurant, these three establishments have the right to protest if they so choose. But will they?
This is not really about who can protest, but who will protest. Churches, schools and restrictive institutions have the ability to protest within 300 feet, and residents within 500 ft have the right to protest. Of the thousands of transfers that Specialty Liquor License Brokers has processed, it is not common to see a protest on an application.
Why Won’t They Protest?
You see, in our industry, competition is invited. It’s a good thing. Our owners and operators understand that the core products–which all licensees sell and are sanctioned by the LCB–is what all licensees have in common. These are liquor, beer, wine and food.
However, each licensee, despite that commonality, is completely different from its neighbor. Each business attracts a different “crowd.” Each member of that crowd chooses a place to frequent for different reasons. The owner, staff, food, ambiance, décor and price point, just to name a few, all go into this decision to frequent or not frequent a licensed restaurant. On Lawrenceville’s Butler Street, for example, there are practically establishments on every block all competing for the same customer: the eater and drinker.
When we apply for a new license in a highly commercial area, though, we find that other licensees in the area actually welcome the new business because the diversity attracts a whole new set of potential customers with expendable cash. Additionally, it’s not unusual for people who are out and about to frequent two, three or four different places in the same area just to satisfy their need to experience a different atmosphere.
So, if a new licensed restaurant wants to open near you, welcome them with open arms. The competition will attract more and possibly different traffic, which will ultimately bring more business to you. More business means more opportunity for success.
If you’re looking to break into the Pittsburgh bar and restaurant scene but aren’t sure where to start, contact one of our skilled and experienced team members to ensure that your new business gets started on the right foot and is poised for success.