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Catering Endorsement Opportunity For Liquor Primary Licensees

Date: Feb 23 2015
Author: Dennis Coates QC

On February 6, 2013 the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch announced the opportunity for licensees to apply for a catering endorsement on their liquor primary license or alternatively, to apply for a stand alone Catering License.

For many Liquor Primary holders, this is an opportunity to expand your current business in a fashion to create more business and to further service your existing clients.

In the past, it was necessary to obtain a Special Occasion License in order to provide and serve alcohol to accompany the catering contract which is very cumbersome. This would require the end user to make the application, and determine the precise amount of alcohol required to be purchased and to return the unused inventory at the end of the event. By definition, Special Occasion Licenses are for a non-profit purpose and often charities had to be utilized as the applicant .

Liquor Primary operators who obtain this catering endorsement will be permitted to maintain a separate inventory for the catered events which allows sourcing popular and properly priced wine and other products and allows a quick process to respond to an order for a catering contract.

There are certain basic requirements for the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch eligibility and approval including the necessity for a commercial kitchen, serving it right certificates for all catering staff, and the necessary equipment to carry out a catering function off site.

At the present time, liquor must be purchased through the Liquor Distribution Branch, catering staff must be in attendance throughout the event and minors may be employed with respect to the food service but not liquor service.

There are also restrictions that prohibit the caterer advertising the event or hosting their own events.

One really useful opportunity for hotels or rural Liquor Primaries is the ability to cater an event in a hotel or facility which is outside the licensed areas. There is currently a Liquor Control and Licensing Branch restriction on licensing banquet rooms that are free standing or part of a facility which is not a hotel. The catering endorsement allows the Liquor Primary holder to fill this void which has, at times, not qualified for a Special Occasion License.

An example of these events are wedding host facilities or events which are partly held on a beach or lawn before moving into the licensed facility.

Some facilities are not allowed to have this endorsement including night clubs, gaming facilities, theatres and stadiums. The operators of the Commodore, a Liquor Primary facility in Kamloops who are in the application process offered these comments.

There are notification requirements which are very user friendly online with the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch. Permission for catered events will usually be automatically approved for events of 500 people or less.

The initial cost of a catering endorsement is $330.00 and the renewal will be based on the annual liquor purchases from the Liquor Distribution Branch which will range from $250.00 to $1,700.00 for purchases between $500,000.00 and $1,000,000.00.

“We would like the caterer’s endorsement because in the past when doing food for events we have been asked to supply alcohol for the event but it was a complicated process to get the special occasions licence. Further, I support the program and the government opening up this opportunity because it really simplifies the process and gives us an avenue to increase our sales over and above the business we currently do. We have a small room which only allows us to do parties of 65 or less for food and drinks, but we have large kitchen which would allow us to do outside catering jobs very proficiently. With this catering endorsement we would now take on bigger events of 70 to 200 people”.

The Kerasiotis Group of Vancouver who operate a number of facilities but who also provide services to live entertainment events are also in the application process and offer these comments.

“Over the years we have worked with a number of out of town event planners and companies who host events. Under the previous regulations we did not have the flexibility to handle all aspects of liquor service for their event, this simplifies the process and allows us “the professionals” the ability to use our experience to provide responsible liquor service”.

The catering initiative by the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch is a very positive process which will allow Liquor Primary operators to expand their business to new opportunities to compensate for some of the current challenges in the Liquor Primary industry.