In principle, the operation of a catering trade (with alcohol being served) 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 possibly also 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 operate a catering trade, if you are in the standing trade
- serve beverages for consumption on the premises (tavern) or
- serve prepared food for consumption on the premises (dining establishment),
if the establishment is accessible to everyone or to certain groups of people.
A catering trade only requires a permit if alcoholic beverages are served. If only non-alcoholic beverages and/or prepared meals are served, the catering trade is generally not subject to permission.
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 circumstance as a result of which the catering business is to be carried on. The occasion is special if it is exceptional; frequently recurring events of a non-exceptional nature are not special occasions.
In any case, the intended gastronomic activity may only appear as an annex (appendage) of an independent other event. An overall assessment of the project and its (alleged) occasion is always decisive.
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 drinks can also be the dominant event and the music can only have a subordinate significance serving the serving of drinks or the music can have no independent weight which can be detached from the serving of drinks.
Pure disco and party events (beach party, dance party, etc.) are to be evaluated particularly critically in this respect, in which beverage dispensing and disco or party operation regularly form a unit and in this respect equally characterise the event. In addition to the pure event, other aspects that have their own weight must regularly be added in order to justify a special occasion at all.
In the past, cases have become known 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 by the 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.
Special attention must be paid to a written and timely submission of the application for a permit in order to enable a proper official examination and decision on the application. As a rule, the application must therefore be submitted at least 2 weeks before the special event. An application which is not submitted in good time and where it is no longer possible to properly check the eligibility for a permit by the scheduled date of the event 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).
A prerequisite for permission is, in particular, the special reason. This must also be explained in more detail in the application.
It may also be necessary to check the applicant's reliability, in particular if the applicant's personal circumstances are not known or if the applicant is not already in possession of a travel trade permit or a permit dependent on his reliability.
The premises must meet the necessary requirements under building law.