How Much Does a Liquor License Cost in San Diego?

liquor license ABC lawyer The cost to purchase a liquor license in San Diego and California as a whole, fluctuates based on the license type and location. In California, the cost of a liquor license will be determined by 1) the County in which you want a license; 2) the type of license and 3) whether that County has issued its limited number of liquor licenses based on population, i.e. how competitive the private market is for that particular liquor license.

In San Diego, there are four types of licenses which the Alcohol Beverage Control office have issued the maximum allowable licenses and thus these license must be purchased on the open market from the existing pool of licenses. The four types of brokered licenses are Type 20, Type 21, Type 47 and Type 48.

Below is a summary of what each of the above licenses are and cost associated with each.

1)    Type 20: Off Sale Beer and Wine Only (Convenience Stores/ Gas Stations)

The cost of obtaining a Type 20 license on the open market can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars or more. Again, the price fluctuates based on the number of available license for sale on the market at that time in San Diego County.  Currently based on the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control’s current report, there is a moratorium in San Diego on El Cajon, Encinitas and Escondido only.  Therefore, in all other areas of San Diego you can file for a new Type 20 license and do not need to purchase through a broker.

 2)    Type 21: Off Sale General – Full Liquor (Markets and Liquor Stores)

Type 21 allows for the off-sale of beer, wine and spirits. This license can range from the low thousands to high hundreds of thousands depending on how competitive the market is and the County you are seeking a license.

3)    Type 47: On Sale General – Full Liquor (Bona fide Restaurant serving 50% food)

Type 47 is an on-sale general licenses for a bona fide eating place. A “bona fide eating place” is required to serve fifty percent (50%) food. A Type 47 license can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. In San Diego, it is very competitive to obtain a Type 47, as we have numerous establishments in the Gaslamp, Pacific Beach, La Jolla, etc. Therefore we have seen Type 47 licenses sell previously in the five to six figure range.

4)    Type 48: On Sale General – Full Liquor (Bars and Nightclubs over 21 only)

A Type 48 liquor license is an on sale general license which requires all individual who enter to be 21 years of age or older. A Type 48 liquor license is generally used at a bar or nightclub where there is no requirement that food be served. The Type 48 is an extremely pricey and competitive license to obtain in San Diego County. These have historically been the most expensive of the above license types.

If you are looking to purchase a liquor license, whether for a convenience store or a nightclub, it is important to first know what you must do to legally transfer the license. Our office can advise on the legal aspects and ramifications of transferring a license after purchase and can also put clients in contact with reputable brokers with experience in ABC licenses in San Diego that can assist you in locating a license to purchase.

Martinez & Schill can advise you on the legal ramifications on whether to purchase the stock of an existing business or opening your own business to purchase the license. It is important to protect yourself from day one, even before your business is up and running. The attorneys at Martinez & Schill are here to help you do just that.

Feel free to call our office at 619-512-5995 with any questions or a free consultation.

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