In principle, the operation of a catering business (serving alcohol) requires a catering permit pursuant to Section 2 (1) of the German Catering Act (GastG). However, if the gastronomic activity requiring a permit is only temporary catering on the occasion of an event (special occasion, e.g. club, town, music festival, etc.), the operation of the catering trade can be permitted by the municipality under eased conditions (as a rule, no proof of instruction and, if applicable, no building permit is required) in accordance with § 12 GastG.
It is also considered a commercial activity if the profits are used for charitable purposes.
You are operating a catering trade if, in a standing trade, you are
- serve beverages for consumption on the spot (tavern) or
- serve prepared food for consumption on site (catering),
if the business is accessible to everyone or to certain groups of people.
The restaurant business is only subject to licensing if alcoholic beverages are served. If only non-alcoholic beverages and/or prepared meals are served, the restaurant business is generally not subject to a permit.
The permission depends on the existence of a special occasion. This is the case if the gastronomic activity in question is linked to a short-term, not frequently occurring event that is outside the gastronomic activity itself. The term "occasion" is understood to mean an external impetus or an external circumstance as a result of which the catering business is to be operated. The occasion is a special one if it is exceptional; frequently recurring events without exceptional character are not special occasions.
In any case, the intended gastronomic activity may only appear as an annex (appendage) of an independent other event. The decisive factor is always an overall appraisal of the event and its (alleged) occasion.
In the case of musical performances, for example, the performance may have the character of an independent event in terms of its type and duration, and the serving of drinks may form its annex. On the other hand, however, the serving of beverages may be the dominant event and the music may have only a subordinate significance serving the serving of beverages, or the music may not have any independent weight that can be detached from the serving of beverages.
In this respect, pure disco and party events (beach party, dance party, etc.) are to be evaluated particularly critically, in which beverage dispensing and disco or party operation regularly form a unit and insofar equally characterize the event. In addition to the event itself, other aspects that have their own weight must also be taken into account in order to justify a special occasion.
In the past, cases have been reported in which drunken guests have rioted. The aspect of alcohol abuse prevention is therefore of particular importance. Events aimed at excessive alcohol consumption are not permitted. Advertising concepts such as "all-inclusive" or "flat rate" parties, where all or certain alcoholic beverages are included in the admission price or are sold at a reduced price and without limit, are also likely to encourage alcohol abuse among guests. In addition, care must be taken to ensure that a non-alcoholic beverage is not offered at a higher price than the same quantity of the cheapest alcoholic beverage (§ 6 GastG). Special attention must also be paid to compliance with youth protection regulations.
Particular attention must be paid to the written and timely submission of the application for a permit in order to enable a proper official review and decision on the application. As a rule, the application must therefore be submitted at least 2 weeks before the special event. An application that is not submitted in time and where it is no longer possible to properly check the eligibility for a permit by the scheduled event date justifies the rejection of the permit.
Just like the restaurant permit, the permit under hospitality law is also space-related and can therefore only be granted for a locally determined location (i.e. not for a specific beer tent, for example, regardless of the specific location).