How Much Food Does a Beer Bar Have to Serve in Tennessee?

How Much Food Does a Beer Bar Have to Serve in Tennessee?

We love feedback from readers and this post is in response to a good question from a follower.

Question: In a beer-only bar, with no liquor license, do you have to have a kitchen and what are the food requirements?

Great question without an easy answer.  The reason?  The laws for beer are set by each city and county.  There are hundreds of Beer Boards in Tennessee and each has its own set of laws.

Because Tennessee has separate licenses for beer and liquor, there are probably hundreds of bars in Tennessee that only serve beer.  In almost every Tennessee city and county, the requirements for beer generally make it cheaper to open a beer bar than a place with full liquor service.

Beer bars in Tennessee are often well-loved watering holes that are quaint comfortable places to get loaded.  The kind of place you might expect to see George Jones or Janis Joplin

Although many beer boards have no rules for food service, some have very specific requirements.

For example, in Hendersonville, the beer laws require that food sales be at least 60% of total sales.  Hendersonville audits sales annually and the effect is to essentially prohibit bars in the city.

In Nashville, a beer bar must serve a meal.  Meal is not defined.  Beer inspectors in Nashville look for a food menu, kitchen equipment to prepare the food on the menu, and a place to store food inventory.

Maryville limits the number of Taverns, a business that's primary purpose is the sale of beer, to 12.

We cannot help but think about Hank William's classic:

There's a tear in my beer
'cause I'm cryin' for you, dear
you are on my lonely mind.

The take away?  Check local beer laws.

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