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200 N. LaSalle Street Suite 2150 Chicago, IL 60601

Can I Get Approval for Chicago Liquor License Before I Build My Restaurant?


The construction of a new restaurant, or substantial renovation of an existing location, is a major financial undertaking for any business owner. If the sale of alcohol is a part of your business, it is understandable that you want to know that once the construction is finished you will be able to obtain a liquor license from the City of Chicago. However, the approval process for a City of Chicago liquor license requires several inspections by the City. Obviously, the City cannot inspect your property until the construction or renovation is completed.

The City of Chicago recognizes the huge financial commitment to building a new restaurant or extensively renovating an existing location. The City acknowledges that its business owners need the peace of mind of knowing that once the project is completed they will be able to obtain the necessary liquor license to operate their business. Accordingly, the City of Chicago has established a conditional approval process for businesses applying for a Consumption on Premises-Incidental Activity License, Package Goods License, or Tavern License. The conditional approval process ensures that a business owner can obtain assurance from the City of Chicago that it will issue a liquor license to the new or recently renovated business upon completion of the project.

In order to obtain conditional approval from the City of Chicago for a liquor license, you must undergo the same process as any other liquor license application. The obvious exception being that the City of Chicago will not conduct an inspection of the facility until after the project is completed. A business applying for a liquor license under conditional approval can expect to receive a decision from the City of Chicago within 90 days of the date that the application is filed. If the City grants conditional approval of the license, the business owner has one year from the approval date to complete construction and pass all of the required City of Chicago inspections.

If you are looking to start a new restaurant or conduct substantial renovations to your existing business which will impact your liquor license, it is important that you contact a qualified Chicago liquor license attorney to walk you through the process and determine whether an application for conditional approval of your liquor license is appropriate. The experienced liquor license attorneys at Hays Firm LLC are available to assist you in the process of applying for and gaining conditional approval of your liquor license application based on the plans and specifications of your project. Please feel free to contact us anytime with your questions.