As of Wednesday, January 19, the New York State Liquor Authority held a board meeting that led to the decision to allow movie theaters to sell beer & wine at their concessions. Furthermore, movie goers are then permitted to enjoy their purchased beer and wine throughout their film, along with their popcorn and candy!
In the past, movie theaters were only able to obtain a license to sell beer & wine if they were legally considered a restaurant. According to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, qualifications a place would need to have to be considered a restaurant are as follows:
- A suitable kitchen for cooking assorted foods
- A chef
- A menu with entree-style meals
- A sufficient refrigeration to support food service
These requirements made it difficult for many theaters to get approved, even though a plethora of other entertainment venues had been able to apply for a license. The National Association of Movie Theatre Owners (NATO), which is comprised of over 35,000 motion picture screens in the country, fought against this and ultimately won their case.
After the SLA (New York State Liquor Authority) has granted the ability for jewelry stores, antique shops, and certain doctor’s offices to obtain wine and beer licenses, the NATO stated on their appeal from January 3, 2022 that “Motion picture theatres should stand on equal footing with these establishments when applying for this breed of license.”
The SLA came to a unanimous vote during Wednesday’s board meeting, finally granting the wishes of the National Association of Movie Theatre Owners.
To be clear, theater owners must apply and be approved for a license before beer and wine can be sold in their cinemas. Though applications can be sent in immediately, it could take months to reach approval.