Restaurant, Hotel, Brew Pub, and Eating Place licensees are entitled to apply for an “Off Premises Catering Permit” (“OPCP”). For an annual application fee of $500.00 to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) qualified licensees are permitted to hold a “catered function” off their licensed premises and on otherwise unlicensed premises to sell wine, liquor and beer (E Licensees may only sell malt and brewed beverages) together with food, for consumption on those premises. The OPCP can be used any time that the licensee can otherwise operate up to five hours a day, however, the event must end by midnight (except that on New Year’s Eve the event may last until 2AM New Years Day). A catered function can only last one day and the permit cannot be used more than 52 times in a year. Multiple licensees can piggyback their permits thus giving them the ability to remain open for up to 10 hours per day. No additional fee is required for each catered event once the initial permit is approved. Previously, applications were required to be filed between January 1st and March 1st, but the Liquor Code was amended in 2016 to give the PLCB the discretion to allow a permit after the March 1st deadline. For licensees hoping to maximize their OPCP opportunities the application should be made as close as possible to January 1st.
The rules for OPCP require the following:
· Written notice be given to local authorities at least seven days in advance of any event and the PLCB must be given thirty days written notice before the initial catered event and seven days for following permits;
· All servers working at catered events must be in compliance with RAMP certifications;
· OPCPs are limited to five hours;
No patron may remove alcohol from the permitted location.
It should be noted that:
· Licensees are not restricted in distance from the licensed premises in the State;
· The location of the catered event is subject to most provisions of the Liquor Code, including the prohibition of the use of a loudspeaker or similar device causing music or other entertainment to be heard beyond the property line.
· The catered function cannot be held at an already licensed location or any location that is subject to a pending or protested transfer application;
· The OPCP may not be a mobile event;
OPCPs are not permitted in the parking lot of sporting events or concerts.
Keep in mind that these permits run from January 1 through December 31 and DO NOT follow the license renewal/validation period. The Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Code Enforcement has authority to issue the licensee citations for violations of the Liquor Code that occur on the catered premises and any citations go against the licensee whose OPCP is in effect at the time of the citation. The process can be nuanced, and it is recommended that a licensee contact an attorney before making an application for an OPCP.
— J. Ken Butera