Bar owners say they need a break with liquor license renewals

Bar owners say their annual liquor license renewal is due at the end of September.

But since they haven't worked during the pandemic, they're hoping to get a break.

"It’s just frustrating. The financial end of it is frustrating," Justin Sullivan, of the V Group, says he’s lost a lot of money because their bars haven’t been able to open during the pandemic.

So when he received this bill from the state in the mail, it made him mad.

"This is the license from the DPBR (Department of Business and Professional Regulation) for alcohol sales on-premise 4COP license," he said.

An $1,800 bill for each one of his bars.

"Our group, we have four of these licenses. That’s an excess of $5,400. It's difficult to have on the books next month," Sullivan said.

And to make matters worse, he said, "These licenses are upwards of $350,000 just to obtain, so not only are we paying a lot of money for a license we cannot use, we also have to renew them once a year."

He’s asking the Department of Business and Professional Regulation for a compromise.

"An extension till the end of the year to pay these. If not, personally, I’d like to see them waived for renewal or somehow prorated against the months that we were closed," Sullivan said.  

We reached out to the DBPR and the governor’s office and are waiting to hear back.

Sullivan and other bar owners even got to meet the head of the department last weekend to talk about their concerns.

"Secretary Beshear has acknowledged these renewals," Sullivan said. 

As the renewal expires at the end of September, he says the clock is ticking.

"All of our venues on Orange Avenue, we’ve been closed and the loans have run their course. Tough decisions up ahead," Sullivan said. 

He says this isn't about reopening bars, it's about paying bills.