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Glover Law is a boutique law firm that helps businesses and individuals navigate complex corporate and government affairs matters. The firm works with members of the hospitality industry on issues relating to state licenses, alcohol beverage sales, and potential franchise agreements.

Welcome to the Club: Liquor Licensing Options for Organizations

 

When people from outside of the state think of clubs in Florida serving cocktails, they probably imagine a trendy VIP section somewhere in Miami Beach. However, this article concerns an entirely different type of club. Under Florida Law, there are several options available to membership organizations that want to offer alcohol for sale. From golf clubs to fraternal lodges, this article presents a summary of the statutory licensing loopholes established for membership organizations, non-profits, and other organizations.

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Golf Club
Permitted Products: Beer, Wine, and Liquor.  
Type of sale: By the drink for consumption on premises only. Sales permitted to members and nonresident guests only. 
Issued to a bona fide regular, standard golf course in continuous active existence and operation for a period of not less than 2 years in the county where it exists. A qualifying club must consist of at least 9 holes, clubhouse, locker rooms and attendant golf facilities, comprising at least 35 acres of land owned or leased by the club. A golf club license holder may sell alcoholic beverages to those other than members and their nonresident guests on days when the club is open to the public, limited to one event per year not exceeding 8 consecutive days. 

Municipal Golf Club
Permitted Products: Beer, Wine, and Liquor.  
Type of sale: By the drink for consumption on premises only. Issued only to a golf club operated by or on behalf of any incorporated municipality in this state. A qualifying club must consist of at least 9 holes, clubhouse, locker rooms and attendant golf facilities, comprising at least 35 acres of land owned or leased by the club.

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Cabana or Beach Club
Permitted Products: Beer, Wine, and Liquor.  
Type of sale: By the drink for consumption on premises only. Sales permitted to members and nonresident guests only. 
Issued to a bona fide beach or cabana club in continuous active existence and operation for a period of not less than 2 years in the county where it exists. A qualifying club must have beach facilities, a swimming pool, locker rooms with facilities for at least 100 persons, and a restaurant with seats at tables for at least 100 persons, comprising in all an area of at least 5,000 square feet located on a plot of land larger than an acre. 

Tennis or Racquetball Club
Permitted Products: Beer, Wine, and Liquor.  
Type of sale: By the drink for consumption on premises only. Sales to members and nonresident guests only. 
Issued to a bona fide tennis club or four-walled indoor racquetball club in continuous active existence and operation for a period of not less than 2 years in the county where it exists. Applicant must own or lease a bona fide tennis club or four-wall indoor racquetball club with 10 or more regulation-size tennis courts and/or regulation-size four-wall indoor racquetball courts, or a combination of 8 such courts and exercise facilities which has a square footage equivalent to 10 regulation-size courts with clubhouse facilities, pro shop, locker rooms, and associated tennis or racquetball facilities.

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Lodges/Subordinate Clubs of National Fraternal or Benevolent Associations
Permitted Products: Beer, Wine, and Liquor.  
Type of sale: By the drink for consumption on premises only. Sales to members and nonresident guests only.
Issued to a bona fide club which has been at the time of application in continuous active existence and operation for a period of not less than 2 years in the county where it exists. However, any veterans’ or fraternal organization of national scope need not have been in continuous active existence or operation for any required period of time prior to an application for license.  There is a separate license available to historic American Legion Posts chartered prior to September 16, 1919. However, the revenue generated from the sale of alcohol which exceeds the cost of operation must be donated to a local nonprofit charitable organization on an annual basis or maintained in an emergency fund not to exceed the costs of operation of the American Legion Post from the prior calendar year.

Non-profit Corporations or Clubs Devoted to Community, Municipal, or County Development
Permitted Products: Beer, Wine, and Liquor.  
Type of sale: By the drink for consumption on premises only. 
Sales to members and nonresident guests only. Issued to a bona fide club which has been at the time of application for license in continuous active existence and operation for a period of not less than 2 years in the county where it exists. Please note that bona fide non-profit corporations, organized for any purpose, may also sell alcoholic beverages for consumption at events with an temporary permit (ODP) from the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. These organizations are generally limited to 12 permits per calendar year. 

Clubs Promoting Showmen and Amusement Enterprises
Permitted Products: Beer, Wine, and Liquor.  
Type of sale: By the drink for consumption on premises only. 
Sales to members and nonresident guests only. Issued to a bona fide club which has been at the time of application for license in continuous active existence and operation for a period of not less than 2 years in the county where it exists. 

Clubs Promoting Cultural Relations of People of the Same Nationality
Permitted Products: Beer, Wine, and Liquor.  
Type of sale: By the drink for consumption on premises only. Sales to members and nonresident guests only. Issued to a bona fide club which has been at the time of application for license in continuous active existence and operation for a period of not less than 2 years in the county where it exists. 

Bottle Club
Permitted Products: Beer, Wine, and Liquor.  
Type of sale: Sales of alcoholic beverages are not permitted. 
“Bottle Club” means a commercial establishment operated for a profit wherein patrons consume alcoholic beverages which are brought onto the premises and not sold or supplied to the patrons by the establishment. Establishment must be located in a building or other enclosed permanent structure. Licensee may not hold any other alcoholic beverage license for the premises while licensed as a bottle club. Purchases of alcoholic beverages for resale are not permitted. Bottle clubs have been historically disfavored by local authorities, and I would strongly suggest that you consult an attorney before pursuing this business model.


Licensing information reproduced from the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco and the Florida Statutes

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