Sinbad’s Stay of Execution Runs Out

By Constantine Mittendorf

SinbadsCloseAs of today, Sinbad’s does not have any immediate plans to close its 40 year old saloon doors, despite losing its eviction case two months ago. The Court stayed eviction and the execution of judgment, but that order expires today – September 30th. Continue reading Sinbad’s Stay of Execution Runs Out

California Rules on Breastfeeding in Restaurants

By Constantine Mittendorf

The Places Youll FeedRecently my wife gave birth to our first child and we’ve just starting to take him out to restaurants with us. The other night while we were busy eating pizza and drinking beer, my wife wondered, “What about our baby? What are the state rules for breastfeeding in restaurants?” Well, here are the rules …

Can a mom breastfeed her child in a restaurant?

Yes. A mother may breastfeed her child in any public place, including restaurants open to the public. (See CA Civil Code §43.3)

Does the breastfeeding baby need to be covered up?

Continue reading California Rules on Breastfeeding in Restaurants

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

Soy Sauce and ChopsticksBy Christopher Yeh

We’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)

Waterfront Restaurant Loses Eviction Trial

By Constantine Mittendorf

SinbadsClose

The owners of Sinbad’s spent last week in San Francisco Superior Court. They have been in an ongoing battle to keep their 40 year old bay-front restaurant afloat.

Continue reading Waterfront Restaurant Loses Eviction Trial

Waterfront Restaurant Fights For Its Life in Court

By Constantine Mittendorf

Sinbads 2

Sinbad’s sits on a pier next to San Francisco’s historic Ferry Building.  With a dining room view from the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island, Sinbad’s has been a classic San Francisco establishment for locals and tourists alike for 40 years.  Through booms and busts, Sinbad’s has held a lease with the San Francisco Port Authority.  Now it looks like San Francisco’s booming economy might be the restaurant’s downfall. Continue reading Waterfront Restaurant Fights For Its Life in Court

New California Paid Sick Leave Law Now in Effect

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By Allegra A. Jones

As of last week, California law now requires mandatory, paid sick leave for most employees – including part-time, temporary and seasonal employees.  This means restaurants in the Golden State now must provide paid sick leave, whether they have in the past or not.  Employees are now guaranteed up to 24 hours (three days)  of annual sick leave – there is no exception for small employers.  Some of the key details of California’s new law – Healthy Workplace Healthy Family Act of 2014 (AB 1522) – are as follows:

  1. To be eligible, employees must have worked in California for 30 days and for their current employer for 90 days.
  2. Sick leave must accrue at no less than one hour for every 30 hours worked but employers may provide eligible workers 24 hours up front.
  3. Employers must track accrual and use.
  4. While accrued sick leave need to be paid out on separation, those who are rehired within a year get their accrued sick leave reinstated.

Restaurants in California are required to put up new posters displaying information on paid sick leave.  Restaurants also must inform employees of their rights upon hiring new employees and then keep sick leave records for at least three years.  There are a number of other uses allowed for sick time, such as caring for a sick relative, coping with domestic abuse, and of course, actually being sick.

Continue reading New California Paid Sick Leave Law Now in Effect

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

By Christopher Yeh

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.

Same-Sex Couples’ Rights in Restaurants and Bars

By Allegra A. Jones

On the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015, holding that that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage under the 14th Amendment and striking down state-level bans on the practice, the rights of certain religious restaurant owners and other businesses, such as wedding planners, caterers and bridal salons, to refuse service to customers on the basis of sexual orientation will come to the forefront.

Restaurants and bars qualify as “public accommodations” under federal law, even if they’re a private business. That means it is illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for those businesses to discriminate or segregate on the basis of “race,” “color,” “religion,” or “national origin.” (It is also illegal to refuse service to disabled or handicapped individuals, under the Americans with Disabilities Act.) While federal law does not include “sexual orientation” within the group of people who are protected from discrimination, laws in many states do protect those groups. For example, California law prohibits the arbitrary exclusion of individuals from a restaurant based on their sexual orientation or marital status. (Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civil Code § 51 et seq.; see also Rolon v. Kulwitzky (1984) 153 Cal.App.3d 289.) Even in states where discrimination against LGBTQ people isn’t banned, such as Arizona, local laws may prohibit sexual orientation discrimination. Continue reading Same-Sex Couples’ Rights in Restaurants and Bars

Gift Cards – A Gift to Restaurants?

By Constantine Mittendorf

Gift Card

If you have an unused gift card from your birthday last year, then you’re not alone. Consumer Reports surveys have found a quarter of people who receive gift cards don’t use them within a ten month period.

This can be very profitable for a restaurant that sells gift cards. The restaurant gets the money up front and a large percentage recipients never use the balance on the card. Lots of people either lose the gift card, forget about it, or just never redeem it. In fact, it’s so common that the industry has a term for it – breakage.  Gift cards can be a great deal for a restaurant, but there are some pitfalls. Continue reading Gift Cards – A Gift to Restaurants?

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

bread-salad-lunch-meal2By Christopher Yeh

With 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