New Jersey’s liquor licencing requirements are not only “antiquated and complex,” as Murphy stated in his State of the State address on Tuesday, but they are also harming the state’s “diseased” restaurant industry.
Therefore, we discovered a 2018 special report released by northjersey.com and USA TODAY Network New Jersey. Our writers questioned chefs and diners, lawmakers and experts, and discovered that local officials regard notoriously tough restrictions as impeding efforts to rejuvenate downtowns and attract new, generally younger, inhabitants.
Due to the cap of 1 licence per 3,000 residents, a law that dates back to the Prohibition era, licences are costly in high-demand areas. The average is estimated to be approximately $350,000, with some as low as $50,000 and as high as $2.3 million.
Some chefs and restaurateurs have stated that the price of a liquor licence discourages them from launching in New Jersey. Meanwhile, present licence holders view their licences as an investment and do not wish for their worth to decrease.
Read our special report for additional details.
Liquor licenses in New Jersey cost $350K and it’s crippling the state’s dining scene
Many longstanding Trenton observers believe that liquor licence reform is inevitable, and even groups representing existing licence holders, who have been adamantly opposed to anything that could devalue their licences, recognise that the system need modification.
There is rising support for allowing restaurants to acquire significantly more affordable permits to serve alcohol. Existing licence holders who incur losses would be compensated, maybe via state tax credits.
However, similar proposals in the past have been repeatedly defeated. Will there be a difference this time?
(Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2018, and the titles and occupations of some chefs, restaurant owners, and specialists have changed since then. Kevin Kohler, the chef-owner of Café Panache in Ramsey, who is mentioned in the article and film, passed away in 2021.)