Alcohol Industry Practice Group
Our firm combines a unique blend of professionals, including attorneys, government consultants, licensing assistants and paralegals for the dedicated representation of alcohol industry clients. Our clients are drawn from all three tiers of the alcohol industry, and our experience is diverse, covering such areas as federal, state and local alcohol licensing, trade practice and tied-house compliance, corporate restructuring and regulatory disclosure filings, license renewal tracking, operational compliance services including on audits and a vast array of trade practice and regulatory enforcement matters.
Spiritus Law provides comprehensive alcohol industry representation focused on industry innovation and expansion. We strive to be at the forefront of emerging industry trends and the refashioning of traditional concepts. Our professionals have helped shape alcoholic beverage regulations for over 35 years at the federal and state level.
The Alcohol Industry Group focuses on providing complete regulatory and operational compliance services in the development of licensing structures and business operational guidelines for the manufacturing, importation, purchase and retail sale and service of alcohol beverages. Our services are comprehensive with attention to all aspects of business permitting and compliant operations for foreign and domestic manufacturers, importers and retailers.
- Advise clients on alcohol licensing structure options and varying business operational models for the manufacturing, importation and sale and service of alcoholic beverages for on or off-premise consumption.
- Drafting and negotiation of management and operating agreements.
- Complete alcohol business licensing and permitting, including federal, state and local regulatory compliance, including ancillary business permitting.
- Management and tracking of cross-border and multi-jurisdictional licensing projects including license transfers resulting from mergers and acquisitions and restructuring.
- Alcohol related land use and zoning approval processes for new project development or alcohol service integration.
- Lease review and negotiations including landlord disclosures and percentage rent payment terms and resolution of landlord/tenant performance disputes.
- Review and analysis of inter-industry business relations including manufacturer and supplier alcohol marketing programs, alcohol brand sponsorships, product promotions and social media advertising campaigns.
- Defense against federal, state and local regulatory enforcement investigations, citations and administrative and/or criminal allegations.
- Legislative lobbying and consulting with federal, state and local government agencies on development of new alcohol related statutes, rules, regulatory guidance and other regulations affecting business operations.
- Counsel clients on alcohol trade practices and compliance issues at the federal, state, and local levels including social media and marketing guidelines, online and alcohol direct shipping regulations, brand sponsorships, alcohol distributor/supplier relations, and the limitations on cooperative advertising with alcohol suppliers and distributors;
- Emergency preparedness planning and on-site training including development of emergency management protocols and procedures, enforcement or cancellation of contracts and leases.
- Assisted with management agreement review and negotiations, and alcohol license and business permit transfers during and following a major real estate investment group’s first entry into the U.S. hospitality market with the $125 million purchase of a South Beach hotel. The Group worked to complete all business and alcohol license transfers simultaneously with transaction closing to avoid interruption in alcohol and amenity services.
- Assisted with licensing and regulatory due diligence in preparation for a major cruise lines’ sale of assets for $3.025 billion dollars. The Group reviewed regulatory compliance issues and completed license filings throughout the U.S. prior to closing deadlines. Post-closing, the Group assisted with preparation of due diligence and licensing summaries for in-house regulatory counsel.
- Assisted with analysis and review of promotional and social media marketing programs, complete business licensing and permitting for various sports team franchises, and arena food and beverage concessions, including drafting and negotiation of concession agreements and provided corporate and regulatory compliance guidance.
- Provided regulatory guidance and due diligence of operating licenses and permits for various movie theater chain acquisition of assets including transactions over $3.5 billion. The Spiritus group has transferred all alcohol licenses and operating permits simultaneously with closing to prevent interruption in alcohol service and provided post-closing compliance guidance for multiple jurisdictions.
- Represented the national movie theater chain Muvico Entertainment as alcohol regulatory and licensing counsel in the sale of its theater chain and remained as licensing regulatory counsel for Buyer post-closing. Post-closing, the Group assisted Muvico Entertainment in disposition and sale of alcohol inventory and continued representation of Buyer for completion of business licensing and regulatory compliance issues.
- Review and analysis of alcohol internet sales and direct to customer alcohol shipping issues for national retailers.
- Defense of administrative enforcement allegations and TTB subpoenas during joint State and Federal task force investigation relating to alcohol trade practice investigations involving use of supplier support and marketing funds; provided post-settlement regulatory compliance guidance.
- Represented foreign investment group in acquisition of U.S. alcohol import company worth over $150 million in alcohol licensing and permitting processes in all 50 states.
- Represented largest producer of Scotch Whiskey based in Scotland in new product launch across all 50 states. Representation included all licensing ad permitting processes on the federal, state and local levels.
- Aftermath of COVID-19: Alcohol industry members are pivoting and shifting business operations to comply with social distancing requirements and production of essential products like hand sanitizer and bottling water.
- Retailer internet alcohol sales, alcohol coupons and direct to consumer shipping regulations are rising in the era of social distance and state regulators are struggling with in-flexible regulations that impact e-commerce.
- Social media engagement is up 300% as the effectiveness of on-site display and direct marketing declines with loss of on-premise traffic. Alcohol advertisers are looking for guidelines and best practices to avoid marketing to minors.
- Industry members are seeking exemptions to traditional trade-practice regulations that can enable suppliers and retailers to more effectively negotiate brand support terms and engage in cooperative advertising.
- Shifting alcohol packaging norms as retailers adjust to to-go cocktails and quick service customer options. Reductions in menu saturation and featured items may also focus attention on common staple brands as on-premise retailers reduce inventory costs.
- Alcohol industry consolidation and foreign investment in the retail tier as smaller chains struggles to survive.
Spiritus Law combines a unique blend of professionals that dedicate their practices to guiding clients through the various federal, state and local regulations governing the manufacture, importation, distribution, sale and advertising of alcoholic beverages.
Robert F. Lewis and Marbet Lewis have collectively worked with the alcohol industry for over 30 years. Rob formerly served as a special agent with the Florida Division of Alcohol Beverage and Tobacco (DABT) and later as an alcohol industry advocate and legal counsel. Their experience offers clients a unique perspective on enforcement and regulatory issues. Marbet works with manufacturers, importers and retailers on various alcohol licensing and permitting projects and assists with development of alcohol marketing, social media and alcohol regulatory compliance programs that promote long term business objectives.