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Could being famous hurt your chances of getting a liquor license renewal?

In a previous blog, we wrote about how celebrities are entering the liquor market in a big way, but can being famous impact your ability to get a liquor license?  In a recent article, Donald Trump’s ‘Character and Fitness’ is being questioned in a hotel liquor-license renewal.  While character and fitness is one of the requirements a license holder must show before they are granted a renewal, celebrities or those in the public eye should not shy away from involvement with liquor licensing.

In this instance, a group of residents believed that Trump’s poor character and fitness should bar the renewal of the hotel’s liquor license.  The residents hold that Trump’s statements and behavior negatively affect peace, order, and pedestrian safety.  Trump’s attorneys argued that as Trump’s name is only one of the names on the license, the residents should not be allowed to question his character. 

An earlier board decision states, “the mere creation of a corporate entity does not shield the individuals holding an interest in a corporation or limited liability company from having their records as owners scrutinized by the board,” and the board references that decision in this order.  However, the Board goes on to state that the decision was procedural and not a determination on the merits of the dispute. The Board will not stop the hotel’s lawyers from contesting the legal standing of the residents.

Celebrity status alone is not detrimental to state agency decisions and analysis relating to alcohol license qualifications.  Negative public comments or opinions may peak interest and lead to greater scrutiny of an applicant’s background but qualification requirements are primarily statutory and meant to apply o all applicants equally.    Despite the recurring headlines relating to President Trump and alcohol license applications for his many hotel properties, celebrity status should not deter interest in entering the alcohol industry.

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The Author

Marbet Lewis

Marbet Lewis

Marbet Lewis has focused her practice on the laws governing the alcohol industry and the manufacture, importation, and sale of alcohol beverage products since 2004. She represents clients in all aspects of alcohol and business licensing in Florida including alcohol licensee mergers and acquisitions, negotiation of asset purchase agreements and required alcohol use provisions, license transfers and licensing due diligence, trade practices, alcohol product advertising and review of marketing agreements, importation agreements, label approvals, and regulatory compliance guidance. Her experience also includes enforcement action defense and administrative litigation, zoning and land use due diligence and approval processes, and state and local government regulatory compliance. She works with domestic and foreign suppliers, wholesalers and a broad range of retailers, including nightclubs, bars, movie theater operators, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, bars, nightclubs, and pharmacy chains.

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