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DURATION OF “HAPPY HOURS” AND MULTIPLE DRINK SPECIALS

My corporation received a citation from the PA State Police, Bureau of Liquor Code Enforcement (BLCE) for the way I ran a happy hour special. I ran the happy hour for four hours, from “5 P.M. to 9 P.M.” I also listed three drink specials which were a mixed drink, and all domestic beers and all imported beers. I thought that as long as I had drink specials I could have a longer happy hour promotion, beyond the two hour limit.

You mixed the concepts of the happy hour promotion with the daily drink special promotion. The two promotions have different compliance requirements for licensees.

Licensees may conduct “Happy Hour” promotions for a duration of only two (2) consecutive hours ending at midnight where the licensee discounts its prices for any and all alcoholic beverages on the premises. Your happy hour promotion lasted for four hours, and therefore, violated the PLCB’s regulations.

You mentioned that you had three daily drink specials, all being promoted at the same time. The PLCB regulations allow licensees to offer only one daily drink special all day or a portion of the day, ending at midnight. As to the daily drink special, a retail licensee may only offer a specific type of alcoholic beverage which is to be one specific brand of beer; a type of wine; or a type of mixed drink.

You may not, as you tried to do so, list as your daily drink specials “all imported beer” and “all domestic beer.” You must only list a specific brand of beer as “Coors.” In any event, you cannot legally offer three (3) drink specials simultaneously throughout the day, You can only offer one special.

Licensees can conduct a two hour “happy hour” where the prices for all alcoholic beverages are discounted for the two hours along with conducting the one daily drink special throughout the day. If you had a two hour happy hour and had simply offered only the one specific mixed drink as your daily drink special all day or a portion of the day, you would not have been in violation.
Remember, having the daily drink special during the day does not allow you to extend the “happy hour” beyond the two consecutive hours.

All discount price promotions stop at midnight, whether a two hour happy hour or a daily drink special.

In all cases you should consult with your attorney for advice as to whether or not your particular promotional activity is permitted or prohibited by the regulations.

PA STATE POLICE CITATION ISSUED DURING A LICENSE TRANSFER

Q. I am in the process of purchasing a restaurant business with a liquor license. My transfer is pending before the PLCB. The Seller has just received a citation for bouncing a check to his beer distributor. The PLCB advised me that the transfer cannot be approved until the citation case is disposed of. Is there any way around the problem? Can I obtain some sort of temporary approval?

A. The PLCB cannot legally issue a temporary license approval to your application until such time as the Seller’s citation is disposed of by the payment of a fine or the serving of a suspension or both. The best way to dispose of this problem with the citation is to require the Seller to immediately submit an Admission, Waiver and Authorization form to the PLCB Office of Administrative Law Judge. The waiver is in essence a submission of a guilty plea to the citation charge without the need to have a hearing. A hearing would only cause a delay in disposing of the citation, and thus delay the PLCB’s approval to your transfer application.

As seen in the Observer Magazine, a monthly beverage journal magazine. Edward Taraskus contributes the Know the Law column.