Harmon Kennedy Law

New Liquor Control Board Guidance for Pennsylvania Bars, Restaurants, and Hotels ("the one where we debate the definition of a "meal")

07/31/2020 11:51 AM

Last week, the Pennsylvania LCB (liquor control board) issued some new guidance in light of the Governor's recent seating and service restrictions for bars and restaurants.    

​At the time of writing this, all counties were still in "green" phase. 

​ALCOHOL SALES 

​- Take-out/curbside only is still OK.  Take-out cocktails are still OK.  

​- For on-premises consumption:  You must combine the alcohol purchase with a food purchase.  Basically, no alcohol sales for on-premises consumption unless at least one meal is also purchased on the same tab.

- Understand the definition of a "meal" -- This is technically found in Section 406 of Pennsylvania's Liquor Code.  I say "technically" because it's not that helpful.  

Technically, a meal is "food prepared on the premises, sufficient to constitute breakfast, lunch or dinner." 

            okaaaay... not helpful.... so what does that actually mean? 

     Examples of a "meal":  Entrees (duh), stuff purchased from a food truck parked out front, 

     Examples of what's NOT a meal:      Snacks like pretzels, popcorn, chips, etc. by themselves     

​Make sure to eat that meal r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w because alcohol service must stop then that meal is gone. 
​Still not helpful?   

​BARS 

​- Basically, closed down unless you offer food for sit-down table service (not bar seating) and/or limit to curbside/takeout only. 

​RESTAURANTS


​- Indoor Seating:  The Governor has implemented a multi-method comparison procedure.  Sound confusing?  It kinda is...  Basically, you calculate your capacity in 2 ways, then implement the most restrictive result (i.e., the result that allows you less seating).

​        - "Method 1" = When you know your fire code capacity

​        - "Method 2" = When you DON'T know your fire code capacity

 If your location has a known fire code capacity, you may operate at 25% of that capacity.  If your location does NOT have a fire capacity, you can calculate your seating at 25 persons per 1,000 square feet



​EVENTS

​- For all events:  There's a hard cap on the number of people, and it applies regardless of the size of the venue.  Employees, staff, and vendors are INCLUDED in the cap if they interact with guests (ex: waitstaff and bartenders).  Employees who doe not interact with guests are not included in this cap (i.e., cooks that aren't leaving the kitchen areas.

- Indoor Events:  Hard cap at 25 people  
​- Outdoor Events:  Hard cap of 250 people  

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