How to get a pub licence for your restaurant

Traditionally restaurants sell alcohol to their customers via one of two types of alcohol licences:

  • Restaurant certificate with Wine Retailer’s On Licence

A combination of a wine retailer’s on licence with a restaurant certificate allows the sale of wine, champagne and beer of any kind including draught before, during or after food; or

  • Special Restaurant Licence 

A special restaurant licence allows the sale of all types of alcohol including cocktails, beer and spirits before, during or after food.

Neither of these licences allow a bar counter in the premises over which alcohol can be served and it is a criminal offence to have one.

Restaurant owners today have had to develop different options for customers at different times of the day and there is a growing market for less formal meals with alcohol particularly with tourists.

Recently, a new possibility has emerged for restaurants who wish to have a traditional functioning bar counter at which customers can stand or sit and drink alcohol with or without food.

How do I get a full publican’s licence for my restaurant?

If you have a bona fide restaurant with a full commercial kitchen and a bona fide restaurant offering, you may be able to apply to the Circuit Court for a pub licence if certain criteria can be fulfilled.

  • Obtaining Pub Licence for well known restaurant in the face of 15 trade objectors and other objectors. (See News & Publications)
  • Obtaining a 7 Day Licence for one of Ireland’s best known Department Stores (See News & Publications)
  • Winning High Court Judicial Review (including an award of costs) for a well known restaurant to allow it to obtain and hold a Pub Licence. (See News & Publications)

Choosing the best architect for your project is very important as they will become one of the most important witnesses in your Court application for a pub licence. Getting the planning right from the start will leave your Court application less vulnerable if there are objectors. We can help you choose an appropriate architect throughout the country.

Do I have to purchase an existing pub licence in order to get a pub licence for my premises?

Yes. It is one of the requirements for the grant of a pub licence for a premises that the holder of an existing pub licence from anywhere in the country consents in the Circuit Court to the extinguishment of their licence in favour of the grant of a new pub licence for a new premises. Compton Solicitors can source an appropriate licence for your project on a conditional contract which means that you will pay for the contract to be extinguished only if the Court application is successful.

Can I sell alcohol to some customers who are not eating or are only eating a light meal at a bar counter or at a table if I get a pub licence for my restaurant?

Yes, you may, subject to any restrictions in the specific planning permission for your building so long as you remain at all times a bona fide restaurant. In other words, that you still operate a bona fide restaurant business with a full menu, commercial kitchen, chefs and restaurant staff.

What is the advantage of having a pub licence in my restaurant instead of a restaurant licence?

The advantages are as follows: –

  • You may, subject to any specific restrictions in your planning permission, have a traditional functioning bar counter with taps over which you can sell alcohol to customers who may or may not be eating so long as you remain a bona fide restaurant.
  • You may have draught beer taps on the bar unlike the restaurant certificate or special restaurant licence format.
  • You may in certain circumstances be able to apply for special exemption orders to extend the licensing hours, whereas a special restaurant licence holder may not apply for extended hours via the special exemption order system.
  • You may sell your publican’s licence if you no longer need it to facilitate the grant of a publican’s licence or an off licence in another premises.


Why choose us?

Liquor Licensing is a complex and multi-faceted process.
We pride ourselves on providing a simple, non-technical road map with a speedy timeline for completion of the project.   Along the way, we will liaise directly with architects and accountants to leave you free to concentrate on your business.
See Liquor Licensing main page

This document is intended to provide a general overview and guidance on a particular topic. It is provided wholly without any liability or responsibility on the part of Compton Solicitors and does not replace the necessity to obtain specific legal advice.


For more information contact:

Lorraine Compton
T: +353 86 253 4651
E: lorraine.compton@comptonsolicitors.ie

Fiona Tonge
T: +353 89 471 4128
E: Fiona.tonge@comptonsolicitors.ie


© Compton Solicitors 2017