Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection

Classes of Liquor Licenses

There are six major classes of liquor licenses in the City of Chicago:

These categories were established to help the City identify and regulate the various types of establishments serving alcoholic beverages. In addition, these categories facilitate the application process by ensuring applicants are seeking the proper type of license for their specific establishments.

Tavern License

Bars, nightclubs, taverns, pubs, and lounges are required to obtain a tavern license to sell and serve alcoholic beverages as the primary source of business. In other words, if the establishment’s business is to sell alcohol, to be consumed on the premises, a Tavern license is required. Patrons entering a tavern must be 21 or older. Persons under 21 may only enter a licensed tavern accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Moratorium restrictions against the issuance of a new tavern license may apply; ask a case manager or your Alderman if your business is located in a moratorium district.

Taverns that offer live entertainment, charge admission for entry or have several amusement devices such as pool tables or arcade games may need a Public Place of Amusement license to conduct such activity.

Requirements:  Please review Required Documents

Inspections Required: Criminal History Review, Onsite Inspection, Health, Fire, DOB-Special Inspection Program, Plumbing, Ventilation, Local Liquor Control Commission
Fees: $4,400.00 + $40.00 one time publication fee
Renewal: 2 Year

Packaged Goods License

This license is necessary for the retail sale of alcoholic liquor enclosed in the original manufacturer sealed and labeled container. Businesses requiring a packaged goods license include grocery stores, convenient stores, and liquor stores. Businesses that sell packaged goods are not permitted to sell alcohol to be consumed on the premises. Tasting is permitted but must comply with Illinois State regulations (Section 5/6-31 of the Illinois Liquor Control Act).

A moratorium restricts the issuance of a new packaged goods license may apply; ask a case manager or your Alderman if your business is located in a moratorium district.

Requirements:  Please review Required Documents

Inspections Required: Criminal History Review, Onsite Inspection, Health-Food Protection, Fire, Local Liquor Control Commission
Fees: $4,400.00 + $40.00 one time publication fee
Renewal: 2 Year

Consumption on Premises-Incidental Activity License

Restaurants, hotels, banquet halls, theaters and bowling alleys that would like to sell liquor are required to have a Consumption on Premises-Incidental Activity (COP) license. In other words, this license is required for the retail sale of alcohol to be consumed on the premises at a place of business where the sale of alcoholic liquor is incidental or secondary to the primary activity. Moratorium restrictions do not apply for restaurants seeking a COP license. However, moratorium restrictions may apply to other businesses seeking a COP license. Businesses with a COP typically require additional licenses depending on the business activity.

For example, a public place of amusement license is needed for theaters to operate and a retail food license is required for a restaurant.

Requirements:  Please view Required Documents

Inspections Required: Criminal History Review, Onsite Inspection, Health, Fire, DOB-Special Inspection Program, Local Liquor Control Commission
Fees:$4,400.00 + $40.00 one time publication fee
Renewal:2 Year

Conditional Approval

The City recognizes that opening a business is a major financial commitment that involves a large amount of risk. In order to minimize that risk, the City has established a conditional approval process for businesses applying for a Consumption on Premises-Incidental Activity License(COP), Packaged Goods or Tavern License. This process is useful for businesses that are planning for construction of a new facility or significant rehabilitation of an older facility. This process ensures business owners that a liquor license will be issued once the facility is completed.

A business applying for a liquor license under conditional approval must undergo the same process as any other liquor license application, with the exception of the facility inspections. These inspections will be performed once the building is fully constructed. Businesses applying for a liquor license under conditional approval will receive a decision within 90 days of the application file date. If conditional approval is granted, applicants have one year to complete construction and pass all required inspections.

Applicants filing an application for an Expanded Establishment Liquor License may file as conditional approval regardless of the type of license they have.

Club License (not-for-profit club)

A Club License can only be issued to a not-for-profit corporation, organized under the laws of the State of Illinois, solely for the promotion of some common object other than the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages. Such clubs must have been in active-and-continuous existence for at least three years with a membership roll of more than 50 members. Applicants seeking this license must have a City of Chicago Retail Food Establishment License along with a suitable and adequate kitchen and dining room for preparing and serving meals. Moratoriums restrictions against the issuance of a new Club License may apply.

Requirements:  Please view Required Documents

Inspections Required:Criminal History Review, Onsite Inspection, Health, Fire, DOB-Special Inspection Program, Plumbing, Ventilation, Local Liquor Control Commission
Fees: $1,100.00 + $40.00 one time publication fee
Renewal: 2 Year

Caterer's License (for caterers located within the City of Chicago)

A Caterer’s License allows catering companies or restaurants located within the city limits to cater food and alcoholic beverages off site and within the City of Chicago. "Off Site" catering means the preparation of food at one location for service at another. Holders of this license are required to have a valid City of Chicago Retail Food Establishment License as well.

Requirements:  Please view Required Documents

Inspections Required:Criminal History Review, Onsite Inspection, Health, Local Liquor Control Commission
Fees:$4,400.00 ($2,200.00 for holders of a Consumption on Premise-Incidental Activity License) + $40.00 one time publication fee
Renewal: 2 Year

Caterer's Registration(for caterers located outside the City of Chicago)

A Caterer’s Registration permits caterers or restaurants that are located outside the City of Chicago to cater events with food and alcoholic beverages within the city limits. "Outside Caterer" means a person who performs off site catering by preparing food at a location

outside the City of Chicago for service at a location within the city limits. For more information, please review section 04-60-081 of the Chicago Municipal Code.

Requirements:Local Municipality Food and Liquor License, a copy of an inspection report conducted by your local health department, and a certificate of liquor liability insurance, food sanitation certificate.
Inspections Required:Health
Fees:$6,600.00
Renewal:2 Year

Secondary & Special Liquor Licenses:

 

Outdoor Patio (Secondary)

An Outdoor Patio License is required to sell alcoholic liquor in a privately owned outdoor location adjacent to premises licensed as a Tavern, Not-for-Profit Club, or Consumption on Premises-Incidental Activity. An outdoor patio must close by 11 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and midnight, Friday and Saturday. Live or recorded music may not be played or performed at any outdoor location licensed as an Outdoor Patio. Late Hour Licenses do not extend to an outdoor patio. Businesses that have a Retail Food Establishment license and wish to operate on the public sidewalk need to obtain a Sidewalk Cafe Permit.

Requirements:Site Plan, Outdoor Floor Plan, Liquor Liability Insurance Certificate, & Occupancy Placard
Inspections Required:Onsite Inspection, DOB-Special Inspection Program, Local Liquor Control Commission
Fees: $1,760.00+$40.00 one time publication fee
Renewal:2 Year

Late Hour License (Secondary)

Businesses wishing to remain open beyond the legal closing time of 2:00 a.m. may obtain a Late Hour Liquor License. This license is required for the additional privilege to remain open and permit the sale of alcoholic liquor until 4:00 a.m., Monday-Saturday, and until 5:00 a.m. on Sunday. Businesses holding a Tavern, Packaged Goods, or Consumption on Premises-Incidental Activity license are permitted to apply for a late hour license

Requirements:Site Plan, Floor Plan, Late Hour Petition and related documents
Inspections Required:Local Liquor Control Commission
Fees:$6,000.00+$40.00 one time publication fee
Renewal:2 Year

Special Club-Wrigley Rooftop

This type of license is required to sell rooftop admission rights or sell food, beer or wine on rooftops in the Wrigley Field adjacent area described in Chapter 04-388-010. Wrigley Field Special Club licenses are only valid from March-November. For more information, please review section 04-388 of the Chicago Municipal Code.

Inspections Required:Criminal History Review, Health-Food Protection, Fire, DOB-Special Inspection Program, Plumbing, Ventilation, Local Liquor Control Commission
Fees:$1,000.00
Renewal: Seasonal, March-November, for a 2 Year Term

Navy Pier Mobile and Navy Pier Fixed

This type of license is required for each outdoor location, structure, or pushcart from which the sale of alcoholic liquor is made within Navy Pier. Please review section 04-60-071 of the Chicago Municipal Code for more information.

Inspections Required: Criminal History Review, Health-Food Protection, Local Liquor Control Commission
Fees: $4,400.00+$40.00 one time publication fee
Renewal:2 Year

Other Special Liquor Licenses:

Lakefront Venue

Riverwalk Venue

Airport Pushcart