Learn about “Type 90” liquor licenses for music venues

If you are opening a live music or entertainment venue, or if you have an existing venue, consider a Type 90 liquor license. It can be an affordable option for you to serve alcoholic beverages to patrons while also admitting minors, all without being required to serve food.

Benefits of a Type 90 license

With this kind of liquor license, you:

  • can sell beer, wine, and spirits to ticketholders starting two hours before a live performance, and until one hour after a performance
    • This includes running multiple bar locations within your venue
    • You cannot serve alcohol on days without ticketed live performances
  • can admit patrons of all ages
  • can host and serve alcohol during private events
    • These private events don't need to have live performances or meet the eligibility criteria for a "music entertainment facility" (see the next section for a definition)
    • You can't have more private events than live performances each year
    • You need to keep records of private events

*Prior to the creation of the Type 90 liquor license in 2023, San Francisco venue operators seeking to serve beer, wine and spirits were typically required to operate under a Type 47 (restaurant) or Type 48 (bar) liquor license and could only acquire such a license on the secondary market. 

Who can get a Type 90 license

Businesses that own a "music entertainment facility" can be eligible.

According to state law this is a "publicly or privately-owned live performance venue, concert hall, auditorium, or an enclosed arena where music or entertainment events are presented for a price of admission.”

This means that your business must do all of the following:

  • have defined performance and audience spaces
  • include mixing equipment, a public address system, and a lighting rig
  • employ one or more people to serve in at least two of the following roles:
    • sound engineer
    • booker
    • promoter
    • stage manager
    • security personnel
    • box office manager
  • require a paid ticket or cover charge to attend performances and ensure that artists are paid and do not play for free or solely for tips; and 
  • market performances through listings in printed or electronic publications, on websites, by mass email, or on social media. 

Learn the steps to apply for a liquor license

The CA Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control issues liquor licenses. You can apply for a Type 90 liquor license at any time, even in counties like San Francisco, that have reached the maximum number of available Type 47 and 48 liquor licenses.

  1. Talk to the Planning Department about what approvals, if any, might be required before you may receive a Type 90 license.  
  2. If the proposed location for your Type 90 license is within an area that has an “undue concentration” of liquor licenses under state law, you will need to get approval from the Board of Supervisors by demonstrating that the license would satisfy the “public convenience or necessity.” There are no additional costs associated with this process, but it could take up to three months. Click for a PDF with more information from the Board of Supervisors.

Learn the steps to apply 

What does it cost?

In 2024, the application fee for a Type 90 license is $18,635. 

If you already have a different type of liquor license

If you already operate a venue with a Type 47 or Type 48 liquor license, you may still consider switching to a Type 90 license.

If you currently have a Type 47 restaurant license, a Type 90 would no longer require you to serve meals.  

If you currently have a Type 48 bar license, a Type 90 would allow you to admit patrons of all ages, if you want to.

An existing Type 47 or Type 48 licensee may sell that license on the secondary market and apply directly to ABC for a new Type 90. Or, you can exchange an existing license for a Type 90 for a $100 fee, but you still need to apply. If you exchange your existing license, you can't sell it on the private market, where it may be worth significantly more in value.

Before you take any action to transition from an existing liquor license to a Type 90, you should speak with ABC staff and consider consulting a liquor licensing attorney. 

For more information

Get help from the Office of Small Business. Small Business Permit Specialists can help you understand the requirements for your business and connect you with resources. Submit a question online or schedule an appointment here.

Last updated April 4, 2024