Few things are more disruptive to a business than government investigations or, heaven forbid, a lawsuit. Without clear and expert guidance, hospitality owners and management can very easily expose themselves to six figure liability. Here are some items to consider...

 
 

 

Employment Law

One of the hardest jobs in hospitality is managing human resources.  In normal businesses, hiring, training and supervising employees is a demanding job - but in hospitality, with its irregular hours, razor-thin margins and high staff turnover, the task becomes much more challenging.

In addition to discrimination, harassment and family and medical leave regulations, the wage & hour laws that apply to hospitality workers are highly specific, requiring a careful eye and standardized practices to steer clear of legal trouble. 


Employee Handbooks

Employee handbooks are extremely useful tools for hospitality managers.  Having set mechanisms for dealing with staff issues adds a significant degree of certainty to an industry full of moving parts.  By clearly communicating store policies as well as required legal notices, employers can be confident that they are compliant with the laws and that their team is on the same page. Some of the many topics covered in a handbook include:

  • Minimum Wage & Overtime
  • Tip Pooling
  • Call-outs & Attendance
  • Employee Discipline
  • Harassment/Discrimination
  • Worker's Compensation
  • Paid Sick Leave/Family Medical Leave

My handbooks are tailored to the unique specifications of your business, developed in close conversation with your managers to create a comprehensive and readable resource for your staff.  In addition to drafting the actual handbook, my services include:

  • Set amount of support over the first six months
  • Reviewing the handbook after six months and one year

Compliance

Few things are more disruptive to a business than government investigations or, heaven forbid, a lawsuit.  One area in which employers are especially susceptible to such challenges is labor management.  The number and complexity of labor laws that apply to the hospitality industry can be difficult to manage from an operations standpoint:

  • Who is exempt from overtime?
  • Can I pay my sous chef on salary?
  • Can I split tips with back of house employees?
  • Should I fire someone who joined a lawsuit against me?

Without clear and expert guidance, hospitality owners and management can very easily expose themselves to six figure liability.  Wage & hour lawsuits account for roughly 10% of cases filed in federal court in New York City.  I've handled wage & hour litigation and can tell you firsthand how damaging these cases can be - both in terms of morale and the bottom line.  The good news is that these problems are easily avoided by consulting with a professional early in the game to develop and institute sound labor management practices.

I offer compliance consultations and audits for:

  • Wage & Hour (including tipping)
  • Hiring & Termination
  • ADA & Discrimination 
  • Family Medical Leave & Paid Sick Leave
  • Harassment & Retaliation
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Whatever your business needs, I can provide valuable guidance to keep your team running smoothly and in the right direction.

 

Liquor Licenses

For restaurants, and bars especially, the liquor license is the lifeblood of the business.  It is illegal in New York to sell or even serve alcohol without one.  The process of getting a liquor license in New York City is time-consuming and difficult to navigate.  From vocal community boards to archaic legal requirements, it is important that you have an expert by your side to guide you through successfully. 

I can help you with all of the issues you will encounter over the lifetime of your liquor license, from initial applications and presentations before the Community Board to disciplinary hearings and renewals.  Services include:

  • Application
  • Site visits to flag potential issues 
  • Referrals to other necessary professionals
  • Representation before the Community Board and, if necessary, the State Liquor Authority
  • License Renewals
  • Special Permits (Catering & Events)

Sidewalk Cafes

For guests, dining outside on a New York City street is a wonderful opportunity to relax and enjoy a meal or a glass of wine, to sit and watch the perpetual motion of people going about their lives.  For restaurants, sidewalk cafes provide additional covers, more seating options for guests, and increased visibility.

However, not all restaurants are eligible to operate a sidewalk cafe.  Zoning laws dictate where sidewalk seating is permitted as well as what kind(s) of cafe you may operate - unenclosed, small unenclosed, and enclosed.  In addition, the sidewalk must be big enough to accommodate the additional seating - there must be at least 12 feet between your property line and the curb.

If your location is eligible for a sidewalk cafe, the application process is time-consuming and complex.  Between the Department of Consumer Affairs, your neighbors and local Community Board, and other City agencies, many different parties will have a voice in whether or not your application will be approved.  All in all, it can take up to six months to get your license!

For restaurant owners interested in expanding service to the sidewalk, get an early start and contact me now to talk about your eligibility, the application process and requirements for operation.


Community Board

The most important aspect of your liquor license application is getting the approval of your local Community Board.  This process can be time-consuming and immensely frustrating.  The Community Board forum provides an opportunity for the members of the neighborhood to voice their opinions and concerns about local events, including the issuance of liquor licenses.  

The process goes something like this:

You send notice to the correct Community Board at least 30 days prior to submitting your application to the State Liquor Authority.

The Community Board will then notify you of a date on which you will present your application before the committee that oversees liquor licenses (they typically meet once a month).  

Some Community Boards require you to post public notices of your intent to apply as well as submit responses to a questionnaire, which usually differ from Board to Board. (here's an example from Brooklyn CB4 - Bushwick)

Once the Board schedules you for a presentation, it is essential that you not only show up, but are thoroughly prepared to present and handle the often-intense negotiation that follows.  Board approval is crucial to your chances of actually obtaining a license.

When you hire me to represent you, I will assist you in tailoring a comprehensive presentation that suits the demands of your particular Community Board and be right by your side at the meeting.  My experience has shown me how to work with the community and negotiate for your interests - reasonably, yet powerfully.

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If you are interested in applying for one of the many different kinds of liquor licenses, contact me now.