New York State will NOT let any new liquor and wine stores to do this.

If you are ever trying to buy or open up a new liquor store, here is something you might not know.

What is the 500 Foot Law in New York State?

You cannot have a bar, restaurant, liquor or wine store within 500 foot of a church or school. In Western New York, there are SO many churches so, this might be more of a problem than you think. According to, there are 212 churches in Buffalo. 

The law was made in 1993, but there are some places that are 'grandfathered in'. If you are renewing a liquor license, you do not need to worry. If you are buying an establishment that has been there for years and need a NEW license, you are not grandfathered in and could be denied if you are close to a church or school.

The 500 Foot Law prohibits the Authority from issuing an on-premises retail license for the sale and/or consumption of liquor to any premises which is within 500 feet of three establishments that are currently operating with on-premises liquor licenses, according to the New York State law. The restriction applies to:

  • on-premises liquor licenses (bars, restaurants, hotels);
  • special on-premises liquor licenses (taverns, theaters);
  • bottle club licenses (establishments that provide alcoholic beverages for free or allow BYOB, no sales permitted); and
  • restaurant-brewer licenses (brew pubs).

You may have never know this law, but there are actually a ton of New York State Liquor Authority Laws that bars and restaurants should know. For example, did you know that Jello-O shots that are sold at a bar are technically illegal?

Most Commonly Broke New York State Liquor Laws

Can you have an open bar in New York State? Are jello shots illegal at the bar? Can you play cards at a bar in New York State?

Gallery Credit: Rob Banks