As any other licensee across Victoria, holding a Restaurant and Café Liquor Licence comes with certain obligations which you are required to abide by. Victoria boasts a vibrant hospitality and tourism industry with a culture of appreciating fine food and entertainment, inclusive of a vibrant liquor industry. As indicated by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (The VCGLR), 'holding a liquor licence is a privilege, not a right, and selling alcohol comes with very real and serious obligations'. But what are these obligations and how do they relate to a restaurant and cafe liquor licence?
Your obligations associated with holding a liquor licence should be taken seriously. Whilst the following information is a starting point for you to understand the standard obligations associated with a restaurant and cafe licence, it is your responsibility to make sure you are aware of all your responsibilities. If you do not comply with the legislation and regulations attached to your licence, you may be fined, incur demerit points or have your licence suspended indefinitely. You can contact us to discuss your unique challenges attached to your venue.
Defining a Restaurant and Cafe
The definition of a restaurant is provided for under the Victorian Planning Scheme. The scheme provides that a restaurant is land used to prepare and sell food and drink, for consumption on the premises which may include:
- entertainment and dancing; and
- the supply of liquor other than in association with the serving of meals, provided that tables and chairs are set out for at least 75% of patrons present on the premises at any one time.
Criteria for the Restaurant and Café Licence
The general criteria for a restaurant and cafe liquor licence requires that the predominant activity is the preparation and serving of meals to be consumed on the licensed premises at all times. The following points are provided as a guide to help you assess whether the restaurant and café liquor licence is the most appropriate for your venue:
- Are meals are available within one hour of opening and up to one hour before closing?
- Are your tables setup with cutlery and condiments for meals?
- Do staff offer a food menu to people entering the premises?
- Are most people in your venue there to eat or have eaten a meal?
- Are the meals you offer substantial and not just snacks?
- Do most of your staff prepare and serve food?
It is generally considered that take-away food cafes do not necessarily fit into this licence category. In essence, it is expected that people attending the venue are doing so to consume a meal, and the majority of your staff are involved in preparing or serving food.
Note: With this licence type you cannot operate as a restaurant or cafe during the day and become a bar at night. A different licence is required if you want to operate as a bar at night.
Where can alcohol be supplied and consumed under a restaurant and cafe liquor licence?
A restaurant and cafe licence authorises the supply of alcohol for consumption on your premises only. The supply of alcohol to customers must be carried out within the red-line area as dictated by your red line plan unless your licence states otherwise.
For example, under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 (the Act), the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (the Commission) has the authority to grant the supply of liquor on any other premises such as catering for private functions on private premises. This will be clearly stated on your licence if this is the case.
In accordance with recent changes to the The Act, a restaurant and cafe licensee may also now permit a person of or over the age of 18 years to take away from the licensed premises unconsumed liquor supplied in the course of a meal provided that:
- the unconsumed liquor is taken away in the same resealable container in which it was supplied; and
- no more than one resealable container of unconsumed liquor per person is taken away.
Can I Trade on the Footpath?
Many licensed venues have tables and chairs setup on the footpath outside their venue. This area needs to be included within the red-line plan of your venue. You may need council approval to use the footpath before the Commission can grant approval for footpath trading.
What About Special Events?
You may from time-to-time hold special events on your premises such as functions, or be part of a local festival or community event. If the special event requires you to trade outside your restaurant and cafe licence trading hours, licence conditions or in some cases, your licensed red-line area, you will likely need to apply for a temporary limited licence or, if it is a large event, a major event licence.
A limited licence or major event licence is granted in addition to your restaurant and cafe licence and is only in force for the times and locations specified on the additional licence.
What are the Standard Restaurant and Café Licence Conditions?
There are standard conditions that all restaurant and cafe licence holders have. Generally speaking, these licence conditions specify:
- your authorised trading hours
- the ratio of tables and chairs that a restaurant and cafe must have available to customers
- the amenity conditions
- other conditions that are relevant to the type of licensed premises you have.
What are the Ordinary Trading Hours of a Restaurant and Cafe Liquor Licence?
Unless otherwise requested, your liquor licence will generally have the defined ‘ordinary trading hours’ applied to it. Ordinary trading hours finish at 11pm on any day.
Ordinary trading hours for a restaurant and café liquor licence allow you to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises at the following times:
- Sunday: 10am to 11pm
- Good Friday and ANZAC Day: 12noon to 11pm
- On any other day: 7am to 11pm.
Remember, you have a 30-minute grace period after closing time for customers to finish the drinks they have already purchased. No service is permitted to occur during this grace period, however.
For more information, you can download the ‘Self-Paced Guide’ for the restaurant and café licence, download the VCGLR Fact Sheet associated with the restaurant and cafe liquor licence, or you can contact us for an obligation free discussion.