Restaurants Selling alcohol in a restaurant.

Published on March 24th, 2015 | by Dean Carr


Selling alcohol in a restaurant

Thinking about opening or licensing a restaurant?

Over the past 10 years I have been involved in the licensing of hundreds of independent restaurants, so the guys at have asked me to write an article on how to open and licence a new restaurant. Every restaurant is different, at this present time I have several new applications on the go with various Council Licensing Authorities. I am currently involved with the licensing of a Japanese restaurant in Solihull, a South Indian Restaurant in Loughborough, a late night Pizza takeaway in Gloucester and an Italian restaurant in London. There are currently three licensing Acts for the United Kingdom, one for England and Wales, one for Scotland and one for Northern Ireland. In this article I will only give advice on the Licensing Act 2003 for England and Wales as the others differ in many ways. DOWNLOAD MY FREE GUIDE

What licences do I need?

So what do you need to know about opening a restaurant in England &  Wales and selling alcohol to your customers. Firstly to sell alcohol you require two types of licence, one for the premises and one for the person who will be in day to day control of the premises, this person is known as the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) and is generally the restaurant manager or owner. So to re-cap you require both of the following;

  • Personal Licence
  • Premises Licence

Obtaining a personal licence

To gain a personal licence an individual must under go training for the Level 2 Award for Personal Licence Holders. This is a one day training course on the  licensing laws for England & Wales, at the end of the training candidates will sit an examination of 40 multiple choice questions. This qualification is awarded by professional organisations and OFQUAL regulated. Potential licence holders will have to provide evidence that they have no relevant criminal convictions under schedule 4 of the Licensing Act 2003 by producing an up to date criminal records check.  A criminal records certificate will need to be submitted with their application to the licensing authority, together with two endorsed photographs and the completed application form and correct fee. Personal Licence Training (UK) Ltd can provide this training and an application service throughout England & Wales, you can visit their website at:

Once granted a personal licence is valid for ten years and can be used anywhere in England & Wales. This licence will allow the holder to sell or authorise the sale of alcohol, it will also allow the holder to be nominated on a premises licence as the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS).

Obtaining a premise licence

A licence granted to a premises will allow licensable activities to be carried out. There are four licensable activities under the  Licensing Act 2003. These activities are listed below, a restaurant will normally apply for two of these activities, the sale of alcohol by retail (this is a sale of alcohol in a restaurant made to a member of the general public).  A restaurant may also require the provision of late night refreshment (this is the sale of hot food or drink between the hours of  11.00 pm and 5.00 am the following day) Both of these activities can be conducted on the premises or off and away from the premises subject to the correct conditions in the licence schedule, however the sale of alcohol is normally conducted ancillary to the sale of food.

  • The sale of alcohol by retail
  • The provision of late night refreshment
  • The provision of regulated entertainment
  • The supply of alcohol by a qualifying club premises

To obtain a premise licence for a restaurant the applicant will need to submit an application to the Licensing Authority where the restaurant is situated. The application must be submitted with a set of scale drawings of the premises showing details of the restaurant and where the alcohol will be consumed and sold. Scale plans must be at a scale of 1:100 unless other wise agreed with the Licensing Authority. The application must also be submitted to all responsible authorities within a Council area, this is normally the Police, Fire Authority, Planning, Child Protection, Rivers Authority, Environmental Health, Public Health, Noise Pollution Team. (this is general and may vary in different Council areas).

Advertising the application

Each new application must be advertised correctly both at the premises for 28 days and in a local newspaper. Guidance on correctly advertising an application in the correct format can normally be found on a local councils website. Newspaper adverts and blue notices must be correct and displayed correctly, other wise an application can be invalid and rejected. The cost of a newspaper advert varies throughout England & Wales these can cost  between £150 to well over £1,000 depending on where the restaurant is situated.

Planning permission

A licensed restaurant will also require relevant planning permission. Things to consider here are car parking for customers, ventilation and extraction, A3 or A5 planning consent, residents living near or above the restaurant. I would always recommend using an approved planning consultant as planning applications can be very complex and time consuming.

Food safety

A new restaurant must advise the local Councils Environmental Heath Department of their intention to supply hot food or drink to the general public no later than 28 days prior to opening. Most local Council’s operate hygiene rating schemes generally referred to as, Scores on the doors. Advice on this can be sort from your local  Environmental Heath Officer (EHO) I feel a good rating is essential to give potential customers the confidence to dine at your restaurant and is something you use to promote your high standards of food hygiene.

Operating a food safety management system for a restaurant is also essential and a requirement to comply with food safety law. Safer Food Better Business is available from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and is great for restaurant start ups and small to medium sized food led establishments.  You can get more advice on starting a food business by visiting: STARTING A FOOD BUSINESS

Staff training on food safety

Ensuring your staff have a fundamental understanding of food safety is essential for all food led businesses. It is the responsibility of the business owner to ensure their staff have received the correct training or have the relevant qualification to work safely with food. Breach of food safety law can lead to large fines and even to the closure of the business.

Fire safety

Every new application will also go before the Chief Fire Officer. You will have to ensure all fire safety requirements are installed together with the correct level of fire fighting equipment for your restaurant.

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 there is a requirement placed on the “Responsible Person” to carry out a fire risk assessment – to identify any possible risks, to reduce or remove those risks and to implement any precautions necessary to ensure that persons on the premises will be alerted and able to escape safely in the event of a fire occurring. In doing this you will drastically reduce the chance of you and your business being affected.

You must:

Carry out a fire risk assessment – see below

If necessary, improve your fire safety measures

Keep the risks, and your fire safety measures under review

A fire risk assessment is a thorough look at your premises and the people who are likely to use them. It considers the risk of fire breaking out and what measures you need to put in place to prevent it and keep people safe.
There are five steps to carrying out a risk assessment.

There are five steps carry out a fire risk assessment:

  • Step 1 – Identify people at risk
  • Step 2 – Identify fire hazards
  • Step 3 – Evaluate the risk
  • Step 4 – Record your findings
  • Step 5 – Review and revise

Download the following PDF, which contains fire safety tips for owners and managers of restaurants, fast food outlets and take away shops: FIRE SAFETY TIPS







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About the Author

Dean Carr

Dean has been involved in alcohol licensing for over 20 years and has helped many independent retailers and corporate clients obtain a licence to sell alcohol or offer late night refreshment, regulated entertainment from all sorts of premises. Dean writes articles for various trade related blogs and is currently Managing Director of the PLT group of companies who run APLH and SCPLH personal alcohol licence courses nationwide. You can contact Dean or a member of his expert licensing team on: 01242 222 188

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Relevant offences when applying for a personal licence
Relevant offences when applying for a personal licence

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