Liquor Licensing

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Regulations around Liquor Licensing

City Ordinance

Rochester Code of Ordinances Chapter 5-19 outlines the City's rules and requirements around liquor licensing.

State Law

The City of Rochester operates within the framework of state law. Minnesota Statutes Chapter 340A governs Liquor in the state. City regulations can be more restrictive than state law.

Licensees must meet the requirements of both city ordinance and state law.

Applying for a License

You can apply online using the Online Portal through Accela Citizen Access (ACA)

Visit: https://aca.rochestermn.gov/citizenaccess/ to access the portal directly

Instructions for using Citizen Access to Apply online

If you do not already have a Citizen Access account in Accela, your first step is registering for a public user account. This video provides a tutorial to walk through registering for an account.

Instructions walking through an online application

Renewals

The license year for all City-issued annual liquor licenses runs from April 1 until March 31 of the following year. Renewals are due each year by March 1. See the License Renewals page for more information about the renewal process.

Materials required with Applications 

All applications require completion of the Retailer's (Buyer's) Card Application, to be submitted with a $20 check directly to the State of Minnesota. The Buyer's Card can be submitted two weeks prior to approval of the license by the City Council.

Business Plan 

Business plans are required to be submitted with all applications. The Business Plan Requirements form must be completed, with the acknowledgement and agreement signed, and submitted with any supporting documents as part of your application for a liquor license. If you are applying for an on-sale exclusive liquor license (street bar), or any on-sale license along with either an extended hours license or a dance permit, you also need to complete the top portion of the Police Department Security Plan Review form.

packet of information about Business Plan requirements, including the required forms, and additional guidance on what should be included in your business plan to address security and noise management plans is available.

Insurance

All licenses require proof of Workers' Compensation coverage in compliance with Minnesota state law. In addition, proof of financial responsibility must be established in the manner provided by Minn. Stat. 340A.409. Most often, this requirement is met by providing liquor liability insurance. A liability insurance certificate must be provided with your application for the full term of the license period before the license can issued.

Example of a Liability Insurance Certificate

Liquor License Classifications

On Sale License Types

Full Intoxicating Liquor/On-sale

For new applications submit:

  • Full Intoxicating On-Sale Liquor License Checklist

AND

OR

Exclusive on-Sale

Also referred to as a "Street Bar License," these on-sale licenses allow exclusive liquor stores to sell alcoholic beverages at retail to the public for consumption only on the licensed premises. Exclusive liquor stores - on-sale or off-sale - can only sell those items outlined in Minn. Stat.

Base Annual Fee: $7,500

Hotel

Authorizes a hotel to sell alcoholic beverages at retail to the public for consumption only on the licensed premises. Under City ordinances and state law, a hotel must include a minimum of 50 guest rooms, and a restaurant on site with meals regularly prepared on the premises, served at tables to the general public, with a seating capacity to serve meals to not less than 30 guests at one time. Hotels will incur additional bar fees for more than one restaurant on the premises, with distinct branding but operating under common ownership and oversight as part of the full licensed premise of the hotel.

Base Annual Fee: $7,200

Restaurant

Authorizes a restaurant, including a brew pub, to sell alcoholic beverages at retail to the public for consumption only on the licensed premises. Under City ordinances and state law, a restaurant must have meals regularly prepared on the premises, served at tables to the general public, with a seating capacity to serve meals to not less than 30 guests at one time.

Base Annual Fee: $5,100

Club

Authorizes a club which has been in existence for at least three years to sell alcoholic beverages at retail for consumption only on the licensed premises to its members and to bona fide guests in the company of members. A club is defined as an incorporated organization organized under the laws of the state meeting the requirements outlined in RCO 5-19      

Base Annual Fee: $300 - $3,000, based on membership 

Bowling Center

Authorizes a facility where the sport of bowling is played to sell alcoholic beverages at retail to the public for consumption only on the licensed premises. No entertainment endorsement is required to allow bowling under this classification.

Base Annual Fee: $7,200

Theater

Authorizes a theater, as defined in Minn. Stat. §340A.101 Subd. 27a, to sell alcoholic beverages at retail for consumption only on the licensed premises to persons attending events at the theater.

Base Annual Fee: $7,200

Non-profit Theater Base Annual Fee: $4,000

Convention Center

Authorizes the civic center or its designated manager or concessionaire to sell alcoholic beverages at retail for consumption only on the licensed premises to persons attending events at the civic center.

Annual Fee: $4,000

Limited Intoxicating Liquor/On-sale

For new applications submit:

  • Limited Intoxicating On-Sale Liquor License Checklist

AND

OR

Brewer Taproom

Authorizes the holder of a brewer's license under Minn. Stats. §340A.301, subd. 6(c), (i) or (j) to sell malt liquor produced by that brewer for consumption on the premises of or adjacent to one brewery location owned by the brewer.

Base Annual Fee: $600

Cocktail Room

Authorizes the holder of a microdistillery license under the Minnesota Liquor Act to sell distilled liquor produced by the distiller for consumption on the premises of or adjacent to one distillery location owned by the distillery.

Base Annual Fee: $600

Cooking School

Authorizes a business establishment that, as part of its business, conducts culinary or cooking classes for which payment is made by each participant or advance reservation is required, to furnish to each participant in each class, at no additional cost to the participant, up to a maximum of six ounces of wine or 12 ounces of intoxicating malt liquor, during and as part of the class, for consumption on the licensed premises only.

Base Annual Fee: $250

Wine

For new applications submit:

  • Wine License Checklist

AND

OR

Restaurant 

Authorizes a restaurant having facilities for seating at least 25 guests to sell wine up to 24 percent alcohol content by volume at retail to the public for consumption only on the licensed premises in conjunction with the sale of food. A restaurant holding both a wine license and an on-sale 3.2 percent malt liquor license may  also serve intoxicating malt liquor (aka strong beer) so long as the licensee has proof of financial responsibility as required by Minnesota Statutes Section  §340A.409.

Base Annual Wine Fee: $900
3.2 Malt Liquor On-Sale/Strong Beer Endorsement with Wine Base Annual Fee: $500

Theater

Authorizes a theater, as defined in Minn. Stat. §340A.101 Subd. 27a to sell wine up to 24 percent alcohol content by volume at retail for consumption only on the licensed premises to persons attending events at the theater.

Base Annual Wine Fee: $900
Non-Profit Theater Base Annual Wine Fee: $600
When held with a wine license: 3.2 Malt Liquor On-Sale/Strong Beer Endorsement Base Annual Fee: $500

Baseball Team

Authorizes the owner of a baseball team, or a person holding a concessions or management contract with the owner, for beverage sales at a ballpark or stadium located within the city for the purposes of league baseball games on all days of the week to persons attending baseball games at the ballpark or stadium.

Base Partial Year Wine Fine: $450
When held with a wine license, 3.2 Malt Liquor/Strong Beer Endorsement Base Partial Year Fee: $250

3.2 Percent Malt Liquor On-Sale

For new applications submit:

  • 3.2 percent Malt Liquor On-Sale License Checklist

AND

OR

A 3.2 percent malt liquor/on-sale license authorizes a drugstore, restaurant, hotel, club, professional sports team, or an establishment used exclusively for the sale of 3.2 percent malt liquor with only incidental sales of tobacco and soft drinks, to sell 3.2 percent malt liquor at retail to the public for consumption only on the licensed premises, provided that any club so licensed may only sell 3.2 percent malt liquor to its members and to bona fide guests in the company of members. Brewpubs may choose to obtain licensure under either a full intoxicating on-sale license or a 3.2 percent malt liquor on-sale license.

Base Annual Fee: $500

Consumption and Display Permit (a.k.a. Bottle Club Permit)

For new applications submit:

  • Consumption and Display Permit Checklist

AND

OR

No business establishment or club which does not have an on-sale intoxicating liquor license may directly or indirectly allow the consumption and display of alcoholic beverages or knowingly serve any liquid for the purpose of mixing with intoxicating liquor without first having obtained a consumption and display permit. This annual permit shall not be effective until it is approved by the city council and sent to the state commissioner of public safety for issuance.

Base Annual City Fee: $300 + $250 State Fee

On-Sale License Endorsements

Special Sunday

Applicants for certain on-sale intoxicating liquor licenses can also apply for a Special Sunday license, if their application meets the requirements of state law and City ordinance. The City application should indicate the applicant is also applying for a Sunday license.

Under state law, a restaurant, club, bowling center, or hotel with a restaurant seating capacity of at least 30 persons with an intoxicating liquor license may obtain a Sunday license. City ordinance indicates a full intoxicating/exclusive on-sale license holder may be deemed a restaurant for purposes of a special Sunday license even though a principal part of its business is not serving food provided it has appropriate facilities for serving food to at least 30 guests at tables at one time.

Some on-sale license types do not need to obtain an additional Special Sunday endorsement, as their provisions already allow for sales on Sunday. This includes full intoxicating/convention center or theater classifications, all limited intoxicating classifications, wine licenses, 3.2 percent malt liquor licenses, and consumption and display permits.

Annual Fee: $200

Entertainment

Applicants for any on-sale alcoholic beverage licenses can also apply for either a limited or general entertainment endorsement on their license, if their application meets the requirements of state law and City ordinance. The City application should indicate the applicant is also applying for this endorsement. Entertainment shall be permitted only on licensed premises for which an annual or temporary endorsement has been granted. 

Limited Entertainment 

Allows entertainment on the premises of any on-sale license holder limited to literary readings, storytelling, live solo comedians, karaoke, amplified or non-amplified music by a disc jockey or any number of musicians, and group singing by patrons of the establishment, with no patron dancing. 

Annual Fee: $200

General Entertainment

Allows entertainment on the premises of any on-sale license holder to permit all forms of legal entertainment and patron dancing, including volleyball and broomball participated in by patrons or guests of the establishment, as well as stage shows, theater, and contests.

Annual Fee: $2,000

2 a.m.

Applicants for all on-sale liquor licenses can also apply for an optional 2 a.m. license, if the application meets the requirements of state law and City ordinance. The City application should indicate the applicant is also applying for this license. In addition, the state application form must be completed and submitted with the City application.

2 a.m. State Application

Annual City Fee: $100 + variable state fee 

Additional Bar

This endorsement is required only when fully distinct restaurants or other facilities are co-located in one physical address, with separate entrances and separate branding but common ownership exists under a single license.

Annual Fee: $1,800

Off Sale Applications

Intoxicating Liquor

For new applications submit:

  • Intoxicating Off-Sale Liquor License Checklist

AND

OR

Off-Sale Exclusive Liquor Store 

Authorizes an exclusive liquor store to sell alcoholic beverages at retail in original packages to the public for consumption off the licensed premises only. The City of Rochester is limited to 26 off-sale liquor licenses, and all 26 licenses are currently held.

Full Intoxicating Off-Sale State Application

Annual Fee: $1,500 

Small Brewer - Off-Sale

Authorizes a brewer licensed under Minn. Stats. § 340A.301, subd. 6(c), (i), or (j), with the approval of the commissioner, to sell malt liquor at its licensed premises for consumption off site that has been produced and packaged by the brewer in compliance with state law. The amount of malt liquor sold at off-sale may not exceed 750 barrels annually. Off-sale of malt liquor shall be limited to the legal hours for off-sale at exclusive liquor stores.

Annual City Fee: $250

Distillery - Off-Sale

Authorizes a microdistiller licensed under the Minnesota Liquor Act, with the approval of the commissioner, to sell distilled spirits at its licensed premises for consumption off-site that has been produced and packaged by the distiller in compliance with state law. The sale of one 375 milliliter bottle per customer per day of product manufactured on site is permit. Off-sale hours of sale shall be limited to the legal hours for off-sale at exclusive liquor stores, and no brand may be sold for off-sale consumption at the microdistillery unless it is also available for distribution by wholesalers.

Annual City Fee: $250

3.2 percent Malt Liquor (Beer) Off Sale

For new applications submit:

  • 3.2 percent Malt Liquor Off-Sale License Checklist

AND

OR

Authorizes a club or other business establishment, other than an automobile service or filling station, as that term is defined in the zoning code, to sell 3.2 percent malt liquor in original packages at retail to the public for consumption only off of the licensed premises.

Annual Fee: $150

Temporary Applications

City Application for any temporary on-sale liquor permit

1-4 Day Temporary Liquor On-Sale Permit

Authorizes a club or charitable, religious, or other nonprofit organization in existence for at least three years, a political committee registered under Minn. Stats. § 10A.14, or a state university, for a term not to exceed four consecutive days, to sell or to contract for the off-premises sale of intoxicating liquor. If the club or organization holds an existing intoxicating/on-sale liquor license, it may sell intoxicating liquor during the permitted term at a place other than its licensed premises. If the club or organization does not hold a permanent liquor license, it may contract with an existing on-sale intoxicating liquor licensee to sell intoxicating liquor at a place other than the existing licensee's licensed premises. The sale of intoxicating liquor under this provision must be in connection with a social event within the city sponsored by the licensee. Unless otherwise provided for in this subsection, licenses issued pursuant hereto are subject to all other provisions of this chapter.

Additional required On-Sale Temporary License State Application  

City Fee: $100/Day 

3.2 percent Malt Liquor/On-Sale Temporary

Authorizes a club or other charitable, religious, or nonprofit organization, for a term not to exceed ten consecutive days, to sell 3.2 percent malt liquor at retail to the public for consumption on the licensed premises.

City Fee: $50/Day

Temporary One-Day Consumption and Display Permit

Authorizes a nonprofit organization to allow the consumption and display of intoxicating liquor, and the serving of liquids for the purpose of mixing with intoxicating liquor, on the licensed premises in conjunction with a social activity sponsored by it during the one day for which the permit is issued. This permit must be approved by the commissioner of public safety before it is effective.

Additional required Consumption & Display State Application

City Fee: $50

Intoxicating Liquor/On-Sale County Fair

Authorizes an licensed under as to sell intoxicating liquor for on-sale consumption upon those portions of the county fairgrounds designated by the county fair board for alcoholic beverage consumption. An application for this license must be approved by the county fair board and must comply with all requirements of this chapter. This license is valid only during the time the county fair is in session.

Additional required State Application  

Other License Types

Caterer's Permit

Caterer's Permits are issued directly by the State of Minnesota. Holders of on-sale intoxicating liquor licenses may apply for a caterer's permit with the State that will be auxiliary to the primary on-sale permit held by the licensee.

Any on-sale intoxicating liquor licensee holding a caterer's permit must notify the City Clerk and Police Chief of any catered event at least 7 days in advance of any event taking place within the City limits.

Frequently Asked Questions about Liquor Licensing

Can wine be removed from a restaurant with a wine license?

Under Minn. Stat. 340A.404 Subd. 11, a person purchasing a full bottle of wine in conjunction with a meal from a restaurant licensed to sell intoxicating liquor or wine may take the bottle from the licensed premises, provided the bottle has been opened and the contents partially consumed.

How long does it take to approve a new license application?

Once an application is submitted, it must be thoroughly reviewed, including receiving sign off and approvals by multiple City departments. This can take a period of several weeks at times. It is important for applicants to work closely with the City Clerk's Office to ensure reasonable expectations are in place around when a license can be issued.