Archive for November, 2012

Nov 22 2012


When applying for a liquor license, the application of the 500 foot rule often results in the application being rejected. It is imperative that an applicant know whether the rule will apply to their license application and, if it does, to prepare accordingly.

GENERAL RULE: No license for on-premises liquor consumption may be granted for any premise within 500 feet of three or more existing premises licensed and operating with an on-premises liquor license. BUT the State Liquor Authority, in it’s discretion, may still issue the license if they determine that the license would be in the public interest after consulting with the local Community Board and holding a public hearing upon notice (a/k/a The 500 Foot Hearing).

Factors the Liquor Authority consider relevant when determining if the license would be in the public interest include the type of the proposed establishment (i.e., restaurant or bar), and the number, classes and types of businesses licensed within 500 feet of the proposed premise. They also consider whether the applicant has had prior violations or complaints at other establishments and quality of life issues such as anticipated increased traffic, potential parking problems and noise issues.

The 500 foot hearing is held at the Liquor Authority and individuals and community groups may appear to challenge the granting of a license. A consultation with an experienced liquor license attorney is highly recommended prior to attending this hearing. But in general, wear a suit and be prepared to answer any and all questions regarding your proposed establishment. Bring a copy of your completed liquor license application with you along with all supporting documents filed therewith.

NOTE: The 500 Foot Rule is not applicable if the premises has been continuously licensed on or prior to November 1, 1993 or if the County has a population of less than 20,000.

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Nov 01 2012


Published by under Libel,Restaurant Review

Have you ever received a poor review for your restaurant and then contemplated suing the restaurant critic and/or publication that published it? Don’t bother. Review of the results of such litigation indicates that you would be wasting your time and money.

Libel is the publication of a false statement of fact. Opinion, however, regardless of how negative or damaging it may be, is protected and not considered libelous. Restaurant reviews have been consistently deemed opinion by New York courts and as such, the courts have consistently decided such cases in favor of the critics. For example, over the course of the past 20 years, restaurateurs have unsuccessfully sued over the following reviews: Trout à la green plague, The fish tasted like old ski boots, Duck pancakes the size of a saucer and the thickness of a finger, and Bring a can of Raid if you plan to eat here.

GENERAL RULE: If you receive a poor review, don’t file a legal action over it. Established case precedent dictates that you won’t win the case and even worse, the negative review will be republished (perhaps repeatedly) as a result of your legal action.

Rather than resorting to legal action, some established restaurateurs such as Harry Cipriani and Jeffrey Chodorow have retaliated against negative reviews by placing expensive full page ads called open letters denouncing the critic and the critic’s review and qualifications. While this avenue may be personally satisfying and even deserved, I don’t believe it has any redeeming business value. Besides being terribly expensive (a full page in the New York Times costs upwards of $90,000.00), it only serves to republish the negative review and keep it in the minds of potential patrons and public for a longer period of time.

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