Liquor Control Law

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Walter | Haverfield has had a liquor control practice for more than ten years.  Mr. Neal and Walter | Haverfield’s Liquor Control group have the experience necessary to navigate the complexity of Ohio's tight regulation of the alcoholic beverage industry, including the issuance of new and transferred permits through the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, hearings before the Ohio Liquor Commission, contractual protection of liquor permit rights, and associated federal licensing involving the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Walter | Haverfield also provides a wide range of related legal services the firm can offer any alcoholic beverage business. Most liquor permitted businesses need comprehensive legal counsel, not only liquor license counsel. This often includes corporate transactions associated with the formation and funding of start-up businesses, restructuring business organizations to bring on new investors, negotiating the lease for the operations, and tax planning. These businesses also have day-to-day employment law issues, and many times find themselves with threatened or actual litigation.  Walter | Haverfield has skill in each of these areas, and the firm’s liquor clients have a one stop shop for their legal needs, from the corner restaurant to the national restaurant group.


The Liquor Control group’s experience and services include the following:
  • Processes thousands of liquor permit transactions with the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.
  • Negotiates hundreds of restaurant and retail leases, on behalf of both landlords and tenants.
  • Works with property developers to form comprehensive plans for alcohol beverage permitting within projects.
  • Representation of national concessionaires and Ohio professional sports teams from Cleveland to Cincinnati on stadium licensing and management changes.
  • Licensed numerous breweries with the TTB and the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, after resolving tied house restrictions from investors’ ownership of retail permits.
  • Drafts critical liquor permit “re-transfer” clauses in leases so that landlords can control liquor permit transfer rights.
  • Effectuates global restructuring transactions for restaurant and convenience store chains.
  • Advanced and prevailed a novel argument before the Ohio Division of Liquor Control to license an arts museum under a quota exempt liquor permit.
  • Formed the Cleveland Uptown, Cleveland Flats East Bank, and Downtown Kent Community Entertainment Districts on behalf of local developers, authorizing non-quota liquor permits.
  • Negotiated and secured complex licensing agreement for historical hotel complex that could not rebuild to comply with newer control regulations.
  • Consulted with national counsel on industry-wide tied house matters involving manufacturer and retailer projects.
  • Negotiates the purchase and processes the transfer of dozens of state liquor permit agency stores for both individuals and grocery store chains.
  • Consults with municipality on voting a precinct “dry” to solve community nuisance claims.
  • Consults with litigation counsel and defends dram shop liability claims.
  • Settles objections from a municipality that allow a permit holder to sell its permit, as opposed to having the permit rejected and investment completely lost.
  • Litigates claims where tenants were obligated to transfer a liquor permit to a new tenant, but refused to comply with those obligations.
  • Defends wage and hour investigations instituted by the United States Department of Labor.
  • Effectuated the buy-out of a member of a restaurant group while defending litigation brought against restaurant and its owners.
  • Representation of property owners and business operators in the purchase, transfer and sale of Ohio liquor permits and related matters.
  • Attorney recognized as AV Preeminent by Martindale Hubbell
  • Attorneys teach continuing legal education classes on liquor control law for the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Attorney member of National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA)
  • Member of National Association of Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Attorneys (NAABLA)

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