What’s an “S.U.P.” and what does it have to do with my liquor license?

Every application for a liquor license in Texas must go thru what’s referred to as a “pre-qualification” process whereby the applicant must obtain certifications from the city, county clerk, state comptroller, etc. before the application can even be turned in to TABC.

Many cities in Texas will not certify a TABC application until the applicant has applied for and obtained a Special Use Permit or Specific Use Permit (“SUP”) from the Building Permits dept. also known as the Planning and Zoning dept. or the Development dept.

It is incredibly important that when you consider obtaining an alcohol permit of any type that you contact your city’s building permit dept. to determine if your business will be required to obtain an SUP to sell alcohol.  You should do that before you sign a lease or make a financial commitment of any kind.  An SUP is a red flag that requires more investigation on your part before deciding to open a business.

The process of obtaining an SUP can range from simple to complex depending upon the layers of bureaucracy involved. Smaller communities can have a simpler process than big cities like Dallas.

An SUP from The Colony, TX can be as simple as turning in an application with the required attachments such as a site plan.  The city of Dallas, however, requires an elaborate production of design documents, traffic impact and parking analyses, the landlord’s written approval of the application, a hefty fee north of $1,000 and  your presence is requested at not one but two hearings- once before the Planning and Zoning Commission and again before the City Council meeting at which your application will be voted on up or down. You may, in fact, find yourself in the position of defending your application in the face of opposition from community stakeholders in attendance to protest your application.

For the vast majority of applications (restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores), there is virtually no risk of coming face to face with a protest during the SUP process.  In fact, most cities do not require an SUP for these types of businesses.  The SUP process is used largely as a means to insure that local stakeholders in the community (primarily residents) have every opportunity to scrutinize the impact that a business selling alcohol will have on their neighborhood and quality of life.  In the crosshairs are bars, liquor stores and, most importantly, night clubs.

If you’re a bar or night club operator, we would go as far as recommending that you make your building lease subject to obtaining an SUP from the city in the event an SUP is required.  If you can’t obtain the required SUP you will never be granted a certificate of occupancy from the city and your TABC application will not be certified. You will be out of business before you ever get a chance to open your doors.

Texas Liquor License does assist in the SUP process as part of the services we offer to our clients.  If you’ve already run into this problem, please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have. We are happy to assist in any way we can, even if it’s just to point you in the right direction.  We can let you know what to expect of the process and what the best approach may be for your business.

(C) 2015, Texas Liquor License.

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