I don't know about other states but Massachusetts liquor license laws make no sense.
I went out with some co-workers and floor mates last night to the Salty Pig. Apparently you need a reservation to sit anywhere in the place but they allowed us to sit at a table until a party arrived at 6:30. We vacate that table at 6:30 and decide to go sit outside on the little patio area. The second we sit down someone comes over to tell us that we have to order food if we are drinking outside.
Um what? This is a new one. We could drink with no food inside but once we go outside we have to order food to drink? We asked if we could sit for two minutes to finish our drinks and were told no. We must have had this look on our faces because she quickly said "it's just the law, sorry." We had a plan though. We would look at the menu and then bail once we finished our drinks.
Two minutes later the hostess comes over (a different woman) and tells us that we couldn't sit outside and drink without food. We told her we were waiting for menus. She was a bit snippy with us but went off to get menus since the other woman hadn't returned yet.
I've encountered places that serve beer but you have to order food with it. I've also encountered places that only have a beer and wine license. Bottle service and happy hour are things of the past in Massachusetts. This is the first time though that the rules change when you're in the same restaurant.
We think the reason is that the patio area is in pedestrian walkway owned by the city. They must have made some type of deal to set up the patio in the summer and this was the result. Can businesses just start putting up signs letting us know what they can and can't serve and if you have to order food and if the rules change because you stepped onto a patio?
I won't even get into the racket that is selling liquor licenses. People sell them for insane amounts of money because the city severely limits the amount of licenses available. Someone who buys a restaurant might not open when it's ready because they are waiting on a liquor license. I've heard that they might be lifting the cap on the number of liquor licenses which I think is needed. Ok I guess I did get into it...
In case you're wondering we did carefully look at our menus and then bailed once we finished our drinks. (Don't worry the drinks were already paid for). I felt kind of bad because I am a goody two-shoes. I got over it very quickly though. I'm a rebel