I am a big fan of Walt Disney's mantra: "It's kind of fun to do the impossible." I enjoy blazing new paths in the labyrinth of liquor laws and helping clients rise above the competition.
Often referenced as the go-to liquor lawyer in Tennessee, Will Cheek is a preeminent member of Adams and Reese's Alcohol and Hospitality practice. He counsels both local and national clients on licensing and regulatory compliance under Tennessee state and local liquor and beer laws.
Restaurants, bars, hotels, liquor stores, grocers, festivals, entertainment venues, nonprofits and other retailers benefit from Will's more than 30 years of experience advising clients through the complex licensing and compliance processes for the sale and regulation of alcoholic beverages. Will counsels distilleries, wineries, breweries and contract manufacturers on production, distribution and marketing, including complex federal and state tied house issues.
Will represents clients before the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission and local beer boards in licensing, enforcement actions and administrative hearings. Working in concert with Adams and Reese's Government Relations team, he drafts state and local liquor legislation and represents clients in state court actions challenging existing ordinances and statutes and regulations.
Will is a trusted legal adviser to startup businesses and emerging companies within a wide range of industries. As "on-call general counsel," Will plays a critical role in helping mom-and-pop and closely held companies accomplish growth and success. This representation ranges from Tailgate Brewery, a Nashville-based brewery adding taprooms across the state, to Kraft CPAs, one of Tennessee's largest independent accounting firms.
Will is the only attorney ranked Band 1 by Chambers USA in the Southeastern category of Food & Beverages: Alcohol. He has been ranked by Best Lawyers in America in Food and Beverage Law, as well as Nonprofit/Charities Law, for 11 and 9 consecutive years, respectively.
Will is a founding member of the Alliance of Alcohol Industry Attorneys and Consultants, and he serves as an advisory board member and legal counsel for the National Association of Licensing and Compliance Professionals.
Will regularly posts articles covering Tennessee-related alcohol, restaurant and hospitality news in his blog Last Call.
- Vanderbilt University Law School, J.D., 1991
- Columbia University, B.A., 1986
- United States Supreme Court
- United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
- Tennessee State Fair Association, Board of Directors
- Tennessee History for Kids, Board of Directors
- Conexion Americas, Legal Counsel
- Family Council at Cheekwood, Founding Member
- Leadership Music, Legal Counsel
- Leadership Nashville, Class of 2007
- Nashville Originals, Legal Counsel
- Nashville Pride, Legal Counsel
- Metro Nashville Arts Commission, Former Chair and Commissioner
- Belcourt Theatre, Legal Counsel; Former Chair and Founding Member, Board of Directors
- Non-Profit Management, Legal Counsel; Former Board Chair
- Children’s House of Nashville, Former Board of Directors
- Community Resource Center, Former Board President
Areas of Practice
- Chambers USA – Recognized Practitioner in Food & Beverages: Alcohol (Southeastern United States, 2020-2022) (Nationwide, 2019-2022)
- Best Lawyers® - Food and Beverage Law, 2011-2022, Nonprofit/Charities Law, 2013-2022
- Best of the Bar, Nashville Business Journal, 2019
- In Charge, Food Category, Nashville Post, 2019-2022
Professional Affiliations & Memberships
- National Conference of State Liquor Administrators
- Alliance of Alcohol Industry Attorneys and Consultants, Founding Member
- Lawyers Association for Women, Frequent Programming Co-Chair
- National Association of Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Attorneys
- National Association of Licensing and Compliance Professionals, Advisory Board Member and Legal Counsel
- National Cannabis Bar Association
- Tennessee Bar Association
- Nashville Bar Association
- Belmont University Center for Entrepreneurship Legal Clinic, Co-Founder
- The Entrepreneur Center, Founding Angel Partner
- Worked with a hospitality management company to license the sale of alcoholic beverages within a Tennessee university’s athletic facilities following a change in policies by the Southeastern Conference.
- Assisted a retail delivery service with filing for the first food store delivery license.
- Worked with a special event catering company to obtain liquor licensing for a long-running country music festival, which is held in Nashville annually and brings attendees from all over the world.
- Assisted a large restaurant management company with structuring the licensing for a food hall with over 24 stalls, plus distillery and brewery, located at the Fifth + Broadway project in Nashville.
- Assisted an international airport in conceptualizing, drafting, advocating, and implementing new administrative rules that allows the airport to serve alcoholic beverages hours before normal alcohol service hours.
- Assisted with the licensing for an expansion of a Tennessee-based distillery’s premises to include an open field for a concert series, where guests can enjoy whiskey and beer tastings.
- Led the licensing efforts to allow a unique retail shopping destination to serve wine and beer to customers throughout its design gallery.
- Crafted a new licensing structure to meet the unique business needs of a 100,000-square-foot food hall in Nashville, lobbied for special legislation, and licensed over a dozen separate points of sale. Guests can move freely with alcohol purchases throughout the facility, which boasts multiple eateries that have central ordering, delivery and storage, among other amenities.