5 Things you may not know about NY branch offices of farm breweries, cideries, wineries and distilleries

New York ABC law allows farm alcoholic beverage producers to have branch offices. The branch office does require an application and approval by the State Liquor Authority, but it is a much simpler application process. A licensee can do everything at the branch office it can do with its farm license. This means it can produce, warehouse, retail, provide tastings and have an on-premise or adjacent restaurant. (The manufacturing operations would require a TTB permit covering the non-contiguous manufacturing location and a restaurant would additionally require an on-premise retail license.) New York farm wineries, cideries and breweries can each have up to 5 branch offices. Farm distilleries are limited to one branch office.

Branch offices are an affordable way for a New York craft producer to increase its footprint and market share. Here are some advantages of branch offices that you may not know, and should entice you to launch a branch office in 2016.

  1. Branch offices may now be shared between several New York farm alcoholic beverage producers. For example, two farm breweries or a farm brewery and a farm cidery can share a branch office.  This offers an affordable way to add tasting rooms and retail sales at additional locations. Several businesses can share the rent and labor costs to run a cooperative location.
  2. Branch offices may now be shared between several licenses of a licensee. A licensee that holds a  farm brewery and a farm distillery license can have a single branch office with a shared tasting room and retail sales area.
  3. Branch offices can also be creatively used to allow restaurants and other on-premises licenses to be operated by wholesale licensees, avoiding tied house restrictions.  As long as the restaurant is on the premise of the branch office or adjacent to it, and operated by the same legal entity as the farm alcoholic beverage producer, there is no tied house issue under New York law. There are many restaurant owners interested in investing in or owning a brewery, cidery or distillery. This may provide an avenue to make that happen legally.
  4. There is no additional fee for these additional branch office locations. (An additional fee will be required, however, if a licensee adds an on-premise retail license for a tavern or restaurant to allow sales of a variety of alcoholic beverages by the glass.)
  5. Branch offices of New York farm alcoholic beverage producers do not require bathrooms.