NYS Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent Bradley met with the ESRTA Board at its meeting last month in Saratoga Springs. The Chairman reported that the Authority’s resources are dedicated to COVID-19. He expressed concern that if the industry failed to comply with the public health restrictions it could cause a statewide shutdown, acknowledged the good work being done by most operators, and urged us to continue our diligent efforts to follow the rules.

We were surprised to learn that in spite of the pandemic license applications have not lightened up. It’s taking 24 – 36 weeks to process a license from start to finish, but a temporary permit can be obtained in about 30 days. Chairman Bradley also informed us that catering permits are getting scrutiny due to the limits on large gathers. Applicants should expect longer processing times and more questions from the SLA licensing staff.

The Chairman reminded us that SLA Advisory #2020-21 requires all renewals to be filed at least seven calendar days prior to the license expires in order for a licensee to continue operating if their license is not renewed before it expires. Licensees that submit their licenses for renewal is less time will not be able to continue operating if their license expires prior to being renewed. The SLA continues to permit on-premises licensees to renew their licenses without paying their renewal fees. That policy expires at the end of November but we expect the Liquor Authority will extend it for another month.

Our complaint against Empire Merchants and Southern Wine & Spirits for charging split case fees in excess of what’s allowed by law is still awaiting review by the Counsel to the Authority according to Chairman Bradley. While we see it as pretty straightforward – the regulation has a limit on split case fees which the wholesalers’ fees clearly exceed – the wholesalers claim the regulation doesn’t apply.