If you have licensed venues, there is a good chance you host events in them. You need to be aware that working on events with your wholesalers and with alcohol suppliers can be restricted due to the tied house laws and trade practice regulations. Whether a supplier or wholesaler wants to host their own event at your premises, or whether you are interested in finding out about sponsorship of your own or charitable events on-site, you need to be aware of what the rules are.
The tied house laws prevent anyone in another tier giving you anything of value, with only limited exceptions, so the payments and drinks and POS that flow for any parties and special events need to be carefully monitored to make sure you are staying within legal boundaries. Many states place restrictions on how many supplier or wholesaler events can be held in each of your restaurants and bars, on how much can be spent and on who can attend. To add to those complications, each state has its own rules which can vary quite a bit from place to place. Whether it is a party for five hundred people or a supplier rep stopping by to buy promotional drinks for your customers, this can be a very tricky area to navigate when you are trying to do business in a wide range of states.
Currently, many states are changing and re-working the exceptions to their tied house laws that allow events to be held by suppliers and wholesalers in retail locations and which allow for sponsorship of events by spirit, wine and beer brands. The states also have widely varying rules on whether retail employees and consumers can be given samples of product by suppliers and wholesalers and whether and how a retailer can receive free product from a supplier or wholesaler to use at events. On February 12, 2013, Kate Hardy from the Nixon Peabody Beverage Alcohol Team will be highlighting some of the recent developments in this area, in key markets across the country at the Hospitality Law Conference.
Kate Hardy practices exclusively in beverage alcohol law and advises suppliers and retailers, on-premise, off-premise and online, on effective ways to manage their licensed businesses. She grew up in wineries in Australia and France and has been combining a love of wine with the practice of law for nearly fifteen years, most recently in New York City. Nixon Peabody LLP represents a wide range of clients throughout the beverage alcohol industry, complemented by the broad resources of a full-service, national law firm, with sophisticated practices in IP/trademark, tax, environmental, real estate, employment, private equity financing, and M&A law.