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Hospitality & Liquor Control

A leading full-service legal resource for Ohio’s alcoholic beverage and hospitality industries.

Walter Haverfield is known as one of Ohio’s leading hospitality and liquor control practices for more than a decade. Our Hospitality and Liquor Control Group routinely navigates Ohio’s complex alcohol regulations, including new and transferred permits through the Ohio Division of Liquor Control. We have extensive experience with the Ohio Liquor Commission, the contractual protections of liquor permit rights, and associated federal licensing through the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Practice Group Leader

John N. Neal, Partner

John focuses his practice on state and federal liquor permit licensing, and the licensing of Ohio’s new medical marijuana industry. John has also developed a diverse set of legal skills with complex commercial litigation, employment law, business organizations, insurance coverage, real estate, and business services.

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Our Hospitality & Liquor Control Insight

Founded in 1932, Walter Haverfield’s deep bench strength advances our knowledgeable counsel in the alcoholic beverage and hospitality industry. Our experience, coupled with our leading business and real estate counsel, provides clients with advice and guidance on all aspects of the hospitality industry. When day-to-day employment law issues emerge, leaving clients threatened by litigation, our Litigation Group is prepared to try each case through to the verdict. Walter Haverfield’s full-service approach makes our firm uniquely equipped to help clients that range from single-location shops to national chains, assisting them in engaging new investors, negotiating leases, and formulating tax strategies.

Walter Haverfield provides a wide range of services to alcoholic beverage businesses that require comprehensive legal counsel in areas beyond liquor licenses, including:

  • Formation and funding of startups
  • Negotiating leases
  • Restructuring businesses
  • Tax planning


Our attorneys in our Cleveland and Columbus offices are consistently ranked and recognized by Best Lawyers®, Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell, and more. At Walter Haverfield, we pride ourselves on becoming each client’s trusted corporate advisor for all their business needs.


  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Banking and Finance Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Commercial Litigation
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Litigation – Labor and Employment
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Litigation – Real Estate
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Litigation – Trust & Estates
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Real Estate Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Tax Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 2: Construction Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 2: Criminal Defense: White-Collar
  • Metropolitan Tier 2: Litigation – Environmental
  • Metropolitan Tier 2: Mergers and Acquisitions Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 3: Bet-the-Company Litigation
  • Metropolitan Tier 3: Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 3: Litigation – Construction
  • Metropolitan Tier 3: Litigation – ERISA


  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Litigation – Real Estate
  • Metropolitan Tier 1: Real Estate Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 2: Banking and Finance Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 2: Bet-the-Company Litigation
  • Metropolitan Tier 2: Litigation – Labor & Employment
  • Metropolitan Tier 2: Litigation – Trusts and Estates
  • Metropolitan Tier 2: Tax Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 2 Trusts & Estates law
  • Metropolitan Tier 3: Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 3: Litigation – ERISA
  • Metropolitan Tier 3: Litigation – Insurance


  • Processing thousands of liquor permit transactions with the Ohio Division of Liquor Control
  • Negotiating hundreds of restaurant and retail leases, on behalf of both landlords and tenants
  • Working with property developers to form comprehensive plans for alcohol beverage permitting within projects
  • Representing national concessionaires and Ohio professional sports teams from Cleveland to Cincinnati on stadium licensing and management changes
  • Licensing numerous breweries with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, after resolving tied-house restrictions from investors’ ownership of retail permits
  • Drafting critical liquor permit “re-transfer” clauses in leases so that landlords can control liquor permit transfer rights
  • Effectuating global restructuring transactions for restaurant and convenience store chains
  • Advancing and prevailing a novel argument before the Ohio Division of Liquor Control to license an art museum under a quota exempt liquor permit
  • Forming the Cleveland Uptown, Cleveland Flats East Bank, and Downtown Kent Community Entertainment Districts on behalf of local developers, authorizing non-quota liquor permits
  • Negotiating and securing a complex licensing agreement for a historical hotel complex that could not rebuild to comply with newer control regulations
  • Consulting with national counsel on industry-wide tied house matters involving manufacturer and retailer projects
  • Negotiating the purchase and processes of the transfer of dozens of state liquor permit agency stores for both individuals and grocery store chains
  • Consulting with a municipality on voting a precinct “dry” to solve community nuisance claims
  • Consulting with litigation counsel and defending dram shop liability claims
  • Settling objections from a municipality that allows a permit holder to sell its permit, as opposed to having the permit rejected and the investment completely lost
  • Litigating claims where tenants were obligated to transfer a liquor permit to a new tenant but refused to comply with those obligations
  • Defending wage and hour investigations instituted by the U.S. Department of Labor
  • Effectuating the buy-out of a member of a restaurant group while defending litigation brought against a restaurant and its owners
  • Representing property owners and business operators in the purchase, transfer, and sale of Ohio liquor permits and related matters