Liquor licenses frequently asked questions
Q: Which ordinance regulates alcohol in Kansas City, Mo.?
A: Chapter 10 is the primary ordinance. Kansas City’s ordinances are based on Missouri law as detailed in Chapter 311 of the Missouri statutes. Kansas City’s ordinances can be more restrictive than state statutes to better suit the needs of Kansas City residents.
Q: How many types of alcohol licenses are there?
A: Licenses to sell alcohol fall into these major categories:
- Liquor-by-the-drink: These licenses are issued to retail establishments that primarily serve alcohol by-the-drink. Taverns and restaurants are typical liquor-by-the-drink license holders.
- Liquor-by-the-package: These licenses are issued to retail establishments that sell alcohol in the original package. Grocery stores and convenience stores are typical holders. Without a tasting license, alcohol cannot be consumed on the premises where package liquor is sold.
- Wholesaler: Wholesalers sell to retail liquor-by-the-drink and liquor-by-the-package license holders. Retailers may not purchase alcoholic beverages from any source other than a wholesaler (Costco & Sams Club are NOT liquor wholesalers) licensed by the City of Kansas City, Mo.
- Manufacturer: Manufacturers make alcoholic beverages from original ingredients. In Kansas City, these are mostly limited to brewers of beer but do include some wineries and distilleries.
Q: How are retail liquor licenses classified?
A: There are several major classifications of liquor licenses. Each classification is granted certain operating privileges but must maintain certain standards to remain within their classification. Here are the major classifications:
- Tavern Primarily sells liquor by-the-drink on the assigned premises of the tavern. If all ordinance requirements are met, a tavern may apply for and be granted a Sunday license.
- Place of entertainment These establishments resemble taverns, except they are larger. City ordinance requires that a place of entertainment have an occupancy of at least 300 customers and annual gross sales of $250,000. If all ordinance requirements are met, a place of entertainment may apply for and be granted a Sunday license.
- Place of amusement Like a place of entertainment, a place of amusement resembles a tavern, except it is larger. A place of amusement requires that the establishment have games of skill, such as golf, bowling, etc., and annual gross sales of at least $200,000. If all ordinance requirements are met, a place of amusement may apply for and be granted a Sunday license.
- Restaurant/bar A restaurant-bar primarily sell meals and liquor by-the-drink, and must demonstrate that more than 50 percent of their gross revenue comes from the sale of food, or have at least $200,000/year in the sales of prepared meals or food made and consumed on the premises. If all ordinance requirements are met, a restaurant/bar may apply for and be granted a Sunday license.
- Package liquor business A package liquor retailer sells alcohol in the original package to go. Businesses that sell package liquor include large retail grocery stores, convenience stores, variety stores, cigar and tobacco stores and smaller convenience stores that primarily sell package liquor. Without a tasting license, alcohol cannot be consumed on the premises where purchased. If all ordinance requirements are met, a business with a liquor-by-the-package license may apply for and be granted a Sunday license.
- Temporary Caterer permit Any restaurant-bar with a City of Kansas City, Mo., liquor license may apply for and receive a catering permit. A catering permit may be issued for any outdoor catered event. An indoor catered event is eligible to be permitted if the premise has a current city and state liquor license. For premises that do not have a current city or state liquor license, an indoor catered event is eligible to be permitted if:
- the event is private and everyone in attendance is there by invitation only and a copy of the pre-arranged invitation/guest list, which lists each individual’s name, is available on premises during the catered event, and;
- there is no entry fee, admission charge, door charge, ticket sales or donations taken of any kind to attend the catered event, and;
- the catered event is not advertised to the public at large in any way.
Q: If I want to have alcohol for sale at an event but I’m not a licensed establishment, such as a tavern or restaurant/bar, what are my options?
A: There are two options:
- Obtain the services of a caterer Contact your favorite restaurant/bar (many of which cater food and alcohol) or one of the licensed caterers in Kansas City. A restaurant-bar is permitted to obtain a temporary catering license, which allows them to sell alcohol at your event. They can serve beer, wine or spirits depending on the type of liquor license that they hold.
- Obtain a non-profit special event license If your organization is a church, school or civic, service, fraternal, veteran, political or charitable club or organization, you can obtain a license to sell beer and/or light wine.
Remember that any servers, cashiers and others involved in the sale of alcohol must have an employee liquor permit. If you hire a caterer, the caterer’s employees will already have their permits. If you receive a non-profit special event license, your servers may need to visit the Regulated Industries Division office and apply for a permit or obtain a temporary permit that is good for one day. For more information about employee permits, read the next question and answer.
Q: If I work in a business that serves alcohol, do I need an employee liquor permit?
A: Most likely. Any person who works in an establishment as a bar manager, bartender, waiter, cashier, sales clerk, stock person, doorman or any position responsible for checking IDs, must have a permit. These are issued by the Regulated Industries Division. Any person 21 years or older who qualifies after completing a criminal record check can obtain an employee liquor permit. A person who is 18 years or older who qualifies after completing a criminal record check can obtain an employee liquor permit to sell or serve alcohol on a limited basis. Visit the Regulated Industries Division office to complete an application, be photographed and receive a temporary permit. A criminal background check will be conducted and your permit will be mailed to you.
Q: What if I don’t want a retail liquor establishment in my neighborhood?
A: City ordinances regulating the sale of alcoholic beverages include provisions so that property owners around a proposed retail liquor establishment can be included in the Regulated Industries Division’s decision to grant a license. There are several reasons why a proposed retail liquor establishment might not be granted a license. Here’s a short list of the most critical reasons:
- Within 300 feet of a church or school Although there are some exceptions to this ordinance, essentially no retail liquor store (tavern, restaurant/bar, package liquor store, etc.) can be within 300 feet of a church or school. This is the radius that the Regulated Industries Division determines whether a school or church, as further defined by the ordinance, is too close to the proposed liquor establishment. For more information on church and school restrictions, please see Chapter 10, section 212 in the code of ordinances of the City of Kansas City, Mo.
- The majority of eligible consenters refused to consent For purposes of granting a liquor license, the “eligible consenters” are anyone who owns property between 250 and 1500 feet (depending on the property density) of the front door of a current or proposed retail liquor establishment. Most applicants who have applied for a liquor license must get a majority of the eligible consenters to give their written consent; otherwise the license or permit cannot be granted.
- The broader neighborhood spoke up A majority of property owners who are eligible consenters that are within a 350-foot radius of a proposed liquor establishment may sign a petition and ask for a hearing before the manager of the Regulated Industries Division to protest the approval of an application for a proposed or current liquor licensed business.
Q: How do I get a liquor license?
A: The Regulated Industries Division provides applications and checklists for these licenses. These forms contain a complete list of all documents and tasks that are required by an applicant to receive each type of liquor license. The application fee schedule is also accessible. Application fees are non-refundable in the event an application is denied or if the applicant decides not to continue pursuit of a license.
Q: Who’s getting a liquor license now?
A: At any given time there are 30-40 active applications being processed at the Regulated Industries Division. An applicant who has applied for a new liquor license will find that it usually takes at least 60 days to complete the liquor license application process. You can view the pending applications for licenses list on the Regulated Industries website, along with a brief summary of their current status.
Q: What should I do if my question isn’t answered on this page or through a site search for liquor?
A: Contact Neighborhoods & Housing Services at 816-513-4561.