Bed and Breakfasts - Do's and Don'ts for Licensees
A Bed and Breakfast (B&B's) is one of the business types eligible to hold a
license to sell beverage alcohol from the NH State Liquor Commission. Before licensing,
licensing agents of the Commission look at statutory definitions to determine the
eligibility of a business to hold a license.i
Once a business is determined eligible, the business may apply for a license to sell
alcohol. The applicable statutory provision for a B&B is found in RSA 178:19.ii The
statute describes, in part, the conditions and limitations on a B&B licensee.
The most significant limitations are that the licensee is limited to selling alcohol
only to guests and only when it is with a meal in the dining room or in the room of the
guests. This limitation prohibits "walk in" customers from coming to a B&B just for a
drink. The legislature has determined the service of alcohol in a B&B is a complement to
the B&B experience rather than the focus of the B&B operation.
Secondly, the licensee may sell liquor and beverage by the bottle which shall be
delivered to the room of registered guests at a price which is not below the licensee's cost.
It is clear in the law that the B&B does not have the same service opportunities as does a
restaurant that caters to the general public.
The Commission has adopted administrative rule which further expand upon the
limits of the B&B licensee. iii The food serving area must be able to accommodate all of
the registered guests. Additionally the licensed area must be in the primary residence of
the licensees and does not extend to other out buildings on the B&B property.
RSA 179:42iv permits a B&B to bundle the cost of lodging and alcohol or food
and alcohol to their guests. The packaging of alcohol and lodging could mean for
example the price of the room would include the room and a bottle of Merlot. Of course
the B&B would need to ensure the guests were over the age of 21 to receive the Merlot.