Issues for NJ and NY Retailers and Food and Beverage Establishments to Consider Upon Reopening for Outdoor Sales and Service

Issues for NJ and NY Retailers and Food and Beverage Establishments to Consider Upon Reopening for Outdoor Sales and Service

On June 3, 2020, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 150 (the “Order”), which permitted, effective June 15, 2020, restaurants and other food and beverage establishments to offer on-site outdoor service. The Order also allowed municipalities to make outdoor shared spaces, such as sidewalks and streets, available to these establishments. Previously, these establishments had been limited to offering take-out services as a result of executive orders issued in response to the ongoing COVID-19 health emergency. Simultaneous with the issuance of the Order, the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (NJABC) issued a special ruling to create a COVID-19 Expansion of Premises Permit (the “Special Ruling”). We discussed the special ruling here. Similarly, the State of New York – on a region-by-region basis – is entering Phase 2 of its reopening plan in response to the COVID-19 health emergency, and the New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) issued guidance to permit liquor licensees with on-premises service to resume outdoor, on-premises service of alcoholic beverages and food. We discussed the guidance here. In sum, both states have taken significant steps to provide relief to business establishments that have been hurt by the COVID-19 health emergency. These measures allow...

New York State Liquor Authority Issues Guidance on Outdoor Expansion of Licensed Premises for Phase 2 Reopening

New York State Liquor Authority Issues Guidance on Outdoor Expansion of Licensed Premises for Phase 2 Reopening

On June 4, 2020, the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) issued guidance to licensees in regions of the state of New York that have entered Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan in response to the COVID-19 health emergency (“SLA Guidance”). The SLA Guidance applies to licensees that possess on-premises service privileges under New York’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Law (“ABC Law”), and it permits these licensees to resume outdoor, on-premises service of alcoholic beverages and food. The SLA Guidance, summarized below, shall remain in effect until July 6, 2020 and may be extended or reduced depending on the circumstances. It specifically provides guidance on how outdoor consumption shall be implemented and how licensees may expand the licensed premises into outdoor spaces, and it also includes a question and answer (Q&A) section that provides guidance to municipalities seeking to extend licensed premises. Outdoor Consumption The consumption of food and alcoholic beverages must occur in outdoor, open-air areas without fixed roofs, and patrons are required to be seated at tables, bars, counters, or similar contrivances. The Q&A section provides that a fixed roof is any overhead structure covering an outdoor seating area that would not reasonably be viewed as temporary. Awnings...

NJABC Issues Special Ruling Creating COVID-19 Expansion Permit and Provides Guidance on To-Go Cocktails

NJABC Issues Special Ruling Creating COVID-19 Expansion Permit and Provides Guidance on To-Go Cocktails

Earlier this month, the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“Division”) issued a special ruling to create temporary COVID-19 permits to expand licensed premises and an advisory notice regarding cocktails-to-go. These are summarized briefly below. Special Ruling Establishing Temporary COVID-19 Permit to Expand Licensed Premises This special ruling issued on June 3, 2020 establishes a COVID-19 Expansion of Premises Permit (“COVID-19 Expansion Permit”) to coincide with Executive Order No. 150, which allows licensees or permittees with on-premises retail consumption privileges to reopen and serve patrons in outdoor areas. The COVID-19 Expansion Permit allows the licensees and permittees to expand their licensed premises into outdoor areas, either contiguous or non-contiguous to their permanently licensed premises. All licensees and permittees with on-premises retail consumption privileges may apply for this permit, but no permit issued would be effective before June 15, 2020. The special ruling sets forth certain criteria that must be met for issuance of the COVID-19 Expansion Permit. In all cases, the licensee is required to demonstrate that it has a possessory interest and control over the expansion areas, and that it will exercise only the same privileges afforded to it on its existing licensed premises. For example, licensees that...

NJABC Issues Order Extending 2019-2020 License Term

NJABC Issues Order Extending 2019-2020 License Term

The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (the “Division”) issued an order on April 13, 2020, extending the 2019-2020 license term for all municipally-issued and state-issued licenses until September 30, 2020. Under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (the “Act”), local governing bodies (known as local issuing authorities) have the authority to issue and renew retail licenses. These retail licenses are in effect for a one-year term, beginning on July 1 of each year. In certain instances, the licenses can also be extended by the Division through ad interim permits. The licenses for the 2019-2020 term were set to expire on June 30, 2020. The Division, rather than local issuing authorities, issues and renews wholesale and manufacturing licenses and associated permits, known as State-issued licenses, which have the same license term as retail licenses. These State-issued licenses include, but are not limited to, Plenary, Limited, and Restricted Brewery Licenses and Plenary, Limited, and Craft Distillery Licenses. Some associated State-issued permits include, but are not limited to, Special Concessionaire Permits, Sampling Permits, Consumer Tasting Permits, and Off-Premise Storage of Records Permits. These State-issued licenses and permits were similarly set to expire on June 30, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 crisis and its associated...

NJABC Relaxes Additional Regulations in Response to COVID-19 Crisis

NJABC Relaxes Additional Regulations in Response to COVID-19 Crisis

On April 7, 2020, we published a blog explaining the guidance and forms of relief recently provided by the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“Division”) to liquor license holders throughout the state. The issued guidance and relief pertain to operations of alcoholic beverage licensees and permittees during the state of emergency declared to address the COVID-19 crisis. Since that time, the Division has issued three new special rulings to address additional COVID-19 related issues. Each special ruling is summarized briefly below. Special Ruling Granting Relaxation of Signature Requirement, Product Returns, Credit, Notices of Obligation, and Bill and Hold This special ruling grants relaxation of several regulations promulgated under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (the “Act”), as well as under a previous special ruling. Signature on Invoices: To comply with social distancing protocols, the Division temporarily suspended the requirement that a licensee must sign and date a delivery slip, invoice, manifest, waybill, or similar document at the time of delivery of any alcoholic beverage by a licensed manufacturer, importer, or wholesaler. It sets forth acceptable alternative methods for signature, which includes methods like sending a contemporaneous email confirming receipt, photographing the invoice and confirming electronically with the wholesaler, or...

NJABC Issues Guidance and Provides Relief to Certain Licensees and Permit Holders During COVID-19 Crisis

NJABC Issues Guidance and Provides Relief to Certain Licensees and Permit Holders During COVID-19 Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unforeseen challenges to countless businesses across the country. Businesses that serve alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption have been hit particularly hard. Through Executive Order No. 107 (the “Order”), and in connection with the declared State of Emergency, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy imposed certain restrictions on restaurants and bars. On March 30, 2020, the State of New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“Division”) issued Advisory Notice 2020-03, which outlines the Division’s interpretation of the Order and provides guidance to licensees concerning the activities in which they may engage in during the COVID-19 crisis. All license holders in the state should review the advisory notice in full, in addition to some of the major points outlined below. Following those points is an explanation of the special ruling regarding Limited Brewery License holders that was issued by the Division concurrently with the advisory notice, and a summary of some recent changes in protocol for interactions with the Division and its staff. Lastly, there is a brief summary of the April 1, 2020 order issued by the Division authorizing the extension of certain alcoholic beverage permits. Advisory Notice 2020-03 Retail consumption licensees: Bars, restaurants, or other establishments...

Is Your Property Historic? You Might Not Think So, But Always Check!

Is Your Property Historic? You Might Not Think So, But Always Check!

In a state like New Jersey, land in urban or developed areas is often at a premium, and developers will need to be mindful of whether the property has any historical significance. In addition to the standard approvals required from local planning or zoning boards, one approval that is commonly overlooked is that of the local historic preservation office or commission. These entities are authorized under the Municipal Land Use Law, N.J.S.A. 40:55D-107 et seq., and are now common in municipalities large and small throughout New Jersey. Where a formal commission exists, applications for development are to be referred to the historic preservation commission for review whenever applications involve property in historic districts or on historic sites identified by the official map or master plan. In other municipalities, there may be an application and approval process separate from the typical land development board. Some are required as part of completeness obligations for applications for development, where others are a separate process from the typical application for development. One active historic preservation commission has been the City of Newark’s Landmarks and Historic Preservation Commission (the “Commission”). This article provides a brief primer on when Commission approval is required, and what developers...

NY High Court Voids Commercial Tenant’s Traditional Safety Net – Here’s How Landlords Can Take Advantage of This Ruling

NY High Court Voids Commercial Tenant’s Traditional Safety Net – Here’s How Landlords Can Take Advantage of This Ruling

Commercial tenants in New York have traditionally been able to secure a stay of summary dispossess proceedings brought against them and remain in occupancy pending the outcome of tenant-commenced litigation challenging the existence of a landlord-alleged default. Thanks to a recent landmark decision by New York’s highest court, this may no longer be the case if the lease contains the waiver language set forth below. When a landlord provides notice of an alleged default, tenants often seek a declaratory judgment as to the interpretation of the lease and whether a default exists, and also move for a Yellowstone injunction to toll any summary proceeding until the declaratory judgment action is completed. This effectively stays the summary dispossess proceedings. In 159 MP Corp., et al. v. Redbridge Bedford, LLC, the State of New York Court of Appeals addressed the enforceability of a commercial lease provision that prohibited the tenant from commencing a declaratory judgment action against the landlord with respect to any dispute regarding the lease. The Court rejected the tenant’s argument that the clause was void against public policy, finding the clause enforceable, based in large part on the sophistication of the parties and the “strong public policy favoring freedom...

NJ Appellate Division Case Highlights Importance of Thorough Due Diligence Regarding Properties Containing “Abandoned” Railroad Lines

NJ Appellate Division Case Highlights Importance of Thorough Due Diligence Regarding Properties Containing “Abandoned” Railroad Lines

The conveyance of property containing embankments or former railroad facilities may invoke complicated title issues that could lead to significant costs and delays for real estate purchasers seeking to develop the property if such issues are not adequately addressed prior to the acquisition. On January 23, 2019, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued an unpublished decision in 212 Marin Boulevard, LLC, et al. v. Chicago Title Insurance Company and Consolidated Rail Corporation, concerning a party’s alleged misrepresentation about whether the conveyed embankment property was subject to the Surface Transportation Board’s (“STB”) abandonment authority. The STB is the federal agency established to oversee rate and service disputes for railways, as well as railway restructuring transactions, including abandonment of rail lines. Presumptively, any abandonment of rail lines by an entity regulated by the STB requires STB approval, unless excepted under federal statute. The seller, Consolidated Rail Corporation (“Conrail”), represented to Chicago Title Insurance Company (“Chicago Title”) that STB abandonment was not required, and Chicago Title, in apparent reliance on this statement, issued policies for the conveyed parcels when the purchaser closed on the property. Even so, the Appellate Division rejected Chicago Title’s third party complaint against Conrail for negligent misrepresentation. The decision...

NJ Appellate Division Announces Evidentiary Standards for Condemnations “Necessary” for a Redevelopment Project

NJ Appellate Division Announces Evidentiary Standards for Condemnations “Necessary” for a Redevelopment Project

At what point is a piece of property “necessary” for a redevelopment project? On January 7, 2019, the New Jersey Appellate Division published a decision in Borough of Glassboro v. Jack Grossman, Matthew Roche, and Dan Desilvio, — N.J. Super. — (App. Div. 2019) (slip op. at 2) that – for the first time – clarifies the phrase “necessary for the redevelopment project” as stated in the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law (LRHL) at N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-8(c). The three-judge panel addressed the question of whether a showing of necessity is required by a condemning authority beyond the designation of the area as one in need of redevelopment, and, what showing it must make in order to condemn a parcel of land located with a redevelopment area. Existing case law required the taking to be “reasonably necessary,” but had never clarified what standards should be used to evaluate how necessary a given property might be to a given redevelopment project. This decision now requires that when a landowner within a redevelopment area contests the necessity of a condemnation, the condemning authority must articulate a definitive need to acquire the parcel for an identified redevelopment project. In Grossman, the defendants owned or were...