All posts by DuaneMorris3

Negative Online Reviews

Should restaurant owners care about negative online reviews?  A study by Harvard Business School indicated a one-star increase on a Yelp review can boost a business’s revenue by five to nine percent.

Image courtesy of alexisdc at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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California Shark Fin Soup Ban Upheld

shark fin soupAfter years of legal challenges, shark fin soup is off the menu for good in California.

Shark fin soup is a traditional Chinese dish frequently served as a luxury item at special occasions such as weddings.  It’s a controversial menu item because some fishermen harvest the fins by catching sharks, slicing off the fins, then tossing the shark back in the ocean.   Continue reading California Shark Fin Soup Ban Upheld

Final Federal Overtime Regulations Published

Last June, the U.S. Department of Labor published proposed changes to federal overtime regulations. We discussed it last year, and Duane Morris analyzed them in detail last July.

On May 18, 2016, the Department of Labor published its Final Rule for purposes of distinguishing between overtime-eligible employees and those “white collar” employees (i.e., executive, administrative, professional, outside sales, and computer employees) who may be exempt from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Continue reading Final Federal Overtime Regulations Published

Is It Okay to Hire Cooks To Match the Cuisine? (Part I)

Soy Sauce and ChopsticksWe’ve all noticed it: why do many ethnic restaurants seem to have servers and wait staff matching that ethnicity? Why do some customers feel that ethnic food served by staff of a different ethnicity is less “authentic”? Does it bother you when you peek behind the kitchen door at, say, a Chinese restaurant, and see that the people making the food are clearly not Asian?

Although it’s not clear whether customers actually do prefer food served by people of matching ethnicity, it does seem, at least anecdotally, to be a real social phenomenon. But what does the law have to say?

Continue reading Is It Okay to Hire Cooks To Match the Cuisine? (Part I)

Newly Proposed Federal Overtime Regulations Draw Opposition From The National Restaurant Association

Update (7/6/2015): Duane Morris has a detailed analysis  of the proposed new rules, as well as information about an upcoming July 15th webinar,  here.

On Tuesday June 30th, the Department of Labor released its long-awaited proposed overhaul to overtime regulations, further to President Obama’s goal of raising wages for more low and middle-income workers. Soon after the announcement, the National Restaurant Association (“NRA”) announced its opposition.

Under the current federal minimum wage rules, employers generally do not have to pay overtime to certain employees earning more than $455 per week, or $23,660 per year. Under the proposed new rules, the overtime exemption threshold would increase to $970 per week, or $50,440 per year. The proposed changes are open for public comment, and will not be finalized for a while.

The NRA’s statement says, in part:

While we are still reviewing the Department of Labor’s proposed overtime regulations, at first sign, it seems as if these proposed rules have the potential to radically change industry standards and negatively impact our workforce. As with previous policies put forth by this Administration, we are deeply concerned with the outcome this process will have on the employer community and our employees.
Supporters of these regulations say they want to increase Americans’ take-home pay, but these sweeping changes to the rules could mean anything but. More than 80% of restaurant owners and 97% of restaurant managers start their careers in non-managerial positions and move up with new, performance-based incentives. If these regulations stand, that mobility and adaptability of employee schedules, which makes our industry appealing, will be severely diminished.

The Obama Administration’s overhaul of overtime pay rules aims to boost workers’ paychecks, but that also means increased operating expenses for restaurant owners. These competing interests will have to be hammered out in the upcoming public comment period until all sides come to a middle ground.

Shake Shack vs. In-n-Out: The Pros and Cons of Rapid Growth

bread-salad-lunch-meal2With news last week that New York burger restaurant Shake Shack will open its first California location in 2016, excitement rippled throughout the state – not just among East Coast transplants, but also West Coast foodies who right now have to leave the state to try a ShackBurger®.

Started in New York, Shake Shack has developed a loyal following across the country. Eager to take advantage of this market potential, Shake Shack has expanded along the Eastern seaboard, and is now working its way slowly but steadily westward, opening a location in Chicago last November, and in Las Vegas in late December.

What challenges face restaurant chains with such visions of manifest destiny? Shake Shack’s West Coast rival might provide some insight.

Continue reading Shake Shack vs. In-n-Out: The Pros and Cons of Rapid Growth