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Archive for November, 2017

Nov 03 2017

NYC Cabaret Law Will Be Repealed!

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The New York City Council overwhelmingly voted on October 31, 2017, to pass legislation (Int. 1652) that repeals the City’s longstanding Cabaret Law. At the same time, Int. 1652 retains certain security requirements of the old law for large establishments. The legislation has the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is expected to sign Int. 1652 into law shortly.

The existing Cabaret Law, established nearly a century ago during Prohibition, requires any business venue where dancing occurs to obtain a Cabaret license from the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs before operating. The law also prohibits musical entertainment, singing, or other forms of amusement without a Cabaret license at establishments in New York City. Currently, premises required to hold a Cabaret license also must provide a copy of it to the New York State Liquor Authority in order to be licensed to sell or serve alcohol at the premises.

While active enforcement of the Cabaret Law has been on the decline in the past several years, this legislative effort marks the end of decades of strong opposition by venue operators and performers to the law as written.

The legislation will repeal the entire Cabaret Law while retaining certain requirements of the law relating to security measures at large entertainment establishments. Once this legislation becomes law, neither operators nor performers will need to apply for a Cabaret license for any reason. Operators of certain large entertainment establishments (as defined by the New York City zoning laws), however, will need to maintain existing requirements regarding the use of video surveillance cameras and security guards. The requirements will be codified under new section 10-177 in § 2, Title 10 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York.

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Nov 02 2017

TRADE SECRET: Keeping Secrets Secret

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In the highly competitive restaurant industry, owners must take steps to protect their proprietary information, such as recipes, techniques, concepts and strategies from theft by former employees. Trade Secrets are any type of information that provides the owner of that information with a competitive advantage as a result of the information not being generally known and readily ascertainable by others.

GENERAL RULE: An owner should protect Trade Secrets with Confidentiality Agreements and take all measures necessary to keep such information secure from disclosure.

Employees who are involved with proprietary information, as well as managers and restaurant executives, should sign confidentiality agreements. In pertinent part, the confidentiality agreement should state the general information that is considered trade secret and should further state that any use or disclosure of this information, other than that specifically allowed by the employer, will be considered a breach of confidentiality and shall subject the employee to legal action and any damages.

As further protection, confidential documents containing recipes, concepts and techniques should be marked “Proprietary and Confidential Information; do not copy or distribute.”

Remind departing employees in writing of their continuing obligation to the confidentiality of the Trade Secrets of your company and have them return all manuals and documents they have in their possession when they leave your employment.

An experienced restaurant employment attorney can draft the appropriate confidentiality Agreement for your specific establishment and can develop a program for you to implement which will maximize your chances that such information will remain confidential and be classified as Trade Secret.

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Nov 02 2017

NEGLIGENCE: SLIP AND FALL LIABILITY

Published by under Insurance,Negligence

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National Safety Council statistics establish that more people are injured in America in slip-and-fall situations than in any other accident scenario.

GENERAL RULE: The owner of a restaurant or bar where such injuries occur is not automatically legally responsible for the consequences of a slip and fall on his/her premises. Proof must be adduced by the plaintiff to establish that: (1) a dangerous condition was created or permitted by the defendant to remain for an unreasonably long time; and (2) the defendant had notice of its existence during such time and failed to take reasonable measures to remove it or to prevent the accident. If you have insurance coverage, notify your carrier immediately upon learning of the incident.

As such, the mere occurrence of the injury does not suffice to impute liability to the restaurant owner. Rather, recent cases have alerted plaintiff’s counsel that in order to prevail in their slip and fall cases, they must prove the specific instrumentality causing the fall, the location and causation of the accident, and specifics of the time frame when the hazard was created; it must also be proven that the defendant had actual or constructive notice of its existence (i.e. that they knew or had reason to know of it). Regardless of the difficulty in successfully bringing forth a slip and fall case, restaurant owners are strongly advised to have this contingency covered via careful periodic inspections of the premises and an insurance policy encompassing this type of liability. The increased insurance premium will be nominal compared to the damages that can, and have been, awarded to successful slip and fall plaintiffs.

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Nov 01 2017

SIDEWALK CAFE LICENSE: Can I get one?

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Having a sidewalk café can greatly enhance the ambience of your restaurant, increase its revenues, and can have a number of other positive affects on your establishment.

GENERAL RULE: To legally operate a portion of a restaurant on a public sidewalk, you must obtain a sidewalk café license and revocable consent to use the sidewalk space from the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. This license is renewable every two years and the license fee is determined by the size of the café and the location of your establishment.

The three types of sidewalk cafés are the: (i) enclosed café, (ii) unenclosed café, and (iii) small unenclosed café. Only restaurants on the ground floor are allowed to have cafes and design criteria for each type are based on the availability of free space on the sidewalk. Pedestrian traffic is a concern and there are specific measurements that must be met regarding distance from trees, parking meters, fire hydrants and other obstructions.

Regardless of the type of sidewalk café, (i) there must a minimum three foot “Service Aisle” for staff within the café, (ii) waiters are not permitted to serve diners from the public sidewalk, only from the designated wait service aisle, and (iii) all sidewalk cafes must maintain a minimum clear path of eight (8) feet between the outer limit of the café and any other object near the curb.

However, there are certain areas in New York City that are sidewalk café blackout zones where they simply are not permitted regardless of free sidewalk space, zoning, etc. If you are signing a lease with the intention to operate a sidewalk café at the premise, be sure to contact a qualified attorney or the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Sidewalk Café Unit prior to signing that lease to ensure that you are not within one of these blackout zones and that the premise is otherwise suitable for such a license.

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Nov 01 2017

POST THE SIGN: AVOID THE FINE.

Published by under Posting Requirements

Every year restaurant and bar owners are subjected to harsh fines, both monetary and criminal, as result of failing to post various signs as required by New York State and City laws.

GENERAL RULE: Although the requirements are constantly changing, the following is a list of signs that must be displayed in customer view: Equipment Use Permit; Occupancy Sign (in establishments holding more than 75 people); Sidewalk Café License (indicating number of tables and chairs); Local law 12: Taskforce/ Resuscitation Equipment; Sign Prohibiting the Sale of Cigarettes to Minors (if cigarettes are sold on the premises); Cigarette Retail License (if cigarettes are sold on premises); Operating Permit; Choking First Aid Sign; CPR Sign: Permit to Manufacture Frozen Desserts; Sign Indicating Availability of Most Recent Inspection Report; Alcohol and Pregnancy Warning; Alcohol and Beverage Control Law; Sales Tax Certificate; Signs Designating “Smoking” and “Non-Smoking” Areas; Exit Signs (required over each exit) or Exit Directional Signs (if exit is not in clear sight); Waste Carter and Times of Refuse Removal; and Nutritional Information Pertaining to Certain Items Termed “Diet” , “Light”, or Similarly Modified Foods.

The penalties for not posting these required signs range from minor monetary fines to seizure of assets and forced business closures.

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