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Off Premises Catering Permits Updated Under Act 39

Norris McLaughlin Liquor Law Blog, Legal Liquor, Ted Zeller, Attorneys at Law

It is that time of year to apply for your Off Premises Catering Permit.  Applications for these permits, which allow licensees to cater off their licensed premises and serve alcohol, are submitted through the PLCB+ online portal, and come with a $500.00 annual fee.  Licensees holding Restaurant, Hotel, Brew Pub, and Eating Place licenses are entitled to apply for an Off Premises Catering Permit, which provides for 52 off premises events per calendar year.  No additional fee is required for each catered event once the initial permit is applied for and approved.  The Pa.L.C.B. does require notice at least 30 days in advance of each catered event through the PLCB+ portal, unless waived by the Pa.L.C.B. under certain circumstances.  The “certain circumstances” are not defined and we recommend that you make every effort to meet the 30-day notice requirement.

Previously, applications were required to be filed before March 1 in order to be effective for that calendar year.  As a result of new Act 39, the Pa.L.C.B. now has the discretion to allow a permit after the March 1st deadline if the licensee is in good standing with the board and complies with all other requirements of the off premises catering permit.  Under these circumstances, the permit must be applied for at least 60 days prior to the first catered function.  Regardless, we always recommend filing in December, because that allows the most flexibility to use your 52 permits.  Keep in mind that these permits run from January 1 through December 31 and DO NOT follow your license period.

You should take into consideration that Off Premises Catering Permits are utilized for catering to an identifiable group, not necessarily the general public.  This nuance is not clearly defined by the Pa.L.C.B., but any catered function you have should be called an “event”.

Below are important facts to help you decide whether or not an Off Premises Catering Permit is the right fit for you:

  1. Catered functions cannot last longer than 5 hours and must end by midnight.  You are permitted to hold two functions on the same day, but a separate application must be submitted for each event; each event must have a definite start and end time, which cannot overlap; and each event is limited to 5 hours;
  1. You may sell alcohol together with food for consumption off premises;
  1. No patron may remove alcohol from the permitted location;
  1. You are required to notify the local police and the State Police, Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement of each catered event at least 7 days in advance.  The notice must include a copy of the event approval letter from Pa.L.C.B., the location and time of the function, the identity of the host, general information regarding expected guests, and any other board-required information;
  1. You are not restricted in distance from your licensed premises in the State; i.e., if your licensed premises is in Allentown, you are permitted to have a catered event in Easton.  Be advised, however, that the location of the catered event is subject to Section 493(34) of the Liquor Code, which prohibits the use of a loudspeaker or similar device causing the sound of music or other entertainment to be heard beyond the property line.  The catered function cannot be held at a location that is subject to a pending, protested transfer application;
  1. All servers at the off premises catered function must be in compliance with RAMP;
  1. The permit will not be issued to a license holder whose license is subject to a pending objection by LCB; for use in a mobile location; or for use at any location used for parking at a sports or concert event;
  1. The Pa.L.C.B. fees for an Off Premises Catering Permit will not be refunded in the event a licensee applies for but does not utilize the permit during the specific calendar year; and
  1. Newly approved licensees have 60 days from receipt of approval to apply for an Off Premises Catering Permit.  Regardless of when the Off Premises Catering Permit application submitted and the approval is received, the filing fee is not adjusted pro rata and remains at $500.00 for that remainder of that calendar year.

For additional information regarding this matter or for addressing any other liquor law matters, please contact Theodore J. Zeller III, Esquire, at or at 610-391-1800.