Course on Restaurant Law

On March 19, 2019, the New York County Lawyers’ Association will sponsor a two-hour continuing legal education class on issues on restaurant law at its offices at 14 Vesey Street beginning at 6 pm. Bernstein Redo, P.C.’s Donald Bernstein will teach a segment on retail liquor licenses, joined by Nancy Schess, Esq. who will speak on labor and employment issues for restaurants, and Kyle-Beth Hilfer, Esq. who will present on intellectual property issues. The course is sponsored by the Real Property Section of the Association and will be moderated by its chair, Roy Fenichel of MIT National Land Services. Registration is through www.nycla.org.

Court Reverses City Council and Orders it to Issue Sidewalk Café Permit

Last week a court in Manhattan reversed the denial by the New York City Council of a sidewalk café permit for Calle Dao at 461 West 23rd Street in Chelsea. Calle Dao, a Cuban-Chinese restaurant in the London Terrace building, had applied for a permit for a small sidewalk café. The last restaurant in that space, Barchetta, had been issued a sidewalk café permit when it had operated in 2014. However, opposition by some vocal residents of London Terrace, Community Board 4, and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson led to a vote in the Council to deny the permit, even though it had been approved by the Department of Consumer Affairs. In her ruling, Judge Carol R. Edmead said that the Council’s vote was “unsupported by evidence regarding land use and zoning regulations and only based on community opposition.” Citing previous court rulings, the judge ruled that the Council’s decision to deny the permit to Calle Dao “fails the rational basis test and is thus arbitrary and capricious.” The City was ordered to give its consent to the café. Bernstein Redo, P.C. was part of the Calle Dao team.

Webinar on Restaurant Leases

On February 13, 2019, Bernstein Redo, P.C.’s Donald Bernstein will be co-presenting with Robin Zeidel, Esq. of Zeidel & Associates, P.C., a webcast seminar on Drafting and Negotiating Restaurant Leases. This one hour continuing legal education program is sponsored by the American Law Institute. Drafting and negotiating the varied clauses contained in restaurant leases presents a unique set of challenges involving complex issues not found in other retail agreements. The interplay between these critical provisions will not only set the standard for a successful landlord-tenant relationship, but also avoid costly problems down the road. Regardless of whether you represent a landlord or tenant, you need to be able to identify the most problematic lease sections, which will be covered in this seminar. Registration is through the American Law Institute website, www.ali-cle.org.

City Council Restricts Hotel Development in M1 Zones

With a New York City Council vote just before the holiday in December, it will become harder to develop new hotels in certain areas of the city. A new City Planning Commission Special Permit will be required to construct new hotels and motels in light manufacturing (M1) zones. City Planning Director Marisa Lago said that because competition for buildable land is rising, particularly in light manufacturing districts, “the targeted, case by case, site specific approach…allows for new hotels in manufacturing zones when that is appropriate.”  The new zoning rules make vacant or undeveloped sites in M1 districts available for other light industrial uses to serve the needs of the nearby residents, according to its supporters. The Special Permit will require hotel developers in the restricted districts to go through a formal land use public review (ULURP) process.  Opponents of the measure, including hotel and real estate groups, argued that hotels are only a small portion of development in industrial areas and that new rules would hurt tourism. According to a recent analysis, the zoning change would eliminate the availability of 220 million square feet of as of right hotel construction space in the city.

Tom Colicchio Opens Small Batch at Roosevelt Field®

Crafted Hospitality’s Tom Colicchio, the head judge and producer of the hit TV show “Top Chef”, opened its newest location at Roosevelt Field® shopping center in Garden City. “Small Batch” is a rustic American restaurant allowing patrons to “…connect with where we are, where we come from and who we are with…” The restaurant will focus on what Long Island produces and will feature Long Island beer, wine and spirits.  Sources include 8 Hands Farm (Cutchogue), Peeko Oysters (New Suffolk) and Long Island Spirits (Bating Hollow). According to Mr. Colicchio, “Small Batch will go beyond being a great dining destination. Small Batch will connect with and support the Long Island food community; we will be the table where purveyors, cooks and guests can come together to celebrate a way of doing business that will create better food for all of us.” Crafted Hospitality currently operates restaurants in New York City, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Bernstein Redo, P.C. is proud to be part of the Crafted team.

Industry City’s Japan Village Food Hall Opens

Japan Village, New York City’s first Japanese food hall, recently opened within the Industry City complex in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.  The 20,000 square foot operation includes 11 food vendors and a Sunrise Mart market, the newest location for the very successful grocery chain that has operated in Manhattan for the past 20 years.  On one side of the completely renovated building is the food hall consisting of kiosks and stalls for various staples of Japanese cuisine such as ramen and okonomiyaki for dine-in or take to-go.  The full-service grocery store of specialty Japanese products is on the other side of the large space and, in addition to hard-to-find products of Japanese origin, the market is complete with an in-house butcher and fishmonger.  A centralized bar area provides Japanese beer and sake to complete the immersive experience. Japan Village is owned by Tony Yoshida and Takuya Yoshida. Bernstein Redo, P.C. is proud to be a part of the Industry City and Japan Village team.

NYC Office of Nightlife Listening Tour

Ariel Palitz, Senior Executive Director of the New York City Office of Nightlife, and referred to as the “Nightlife Mayor”, conducted the last of the five Borough meetings of the office’s Listening Tour in Manhattan last week.  Hundreds of residents, business owners, and community board members attended the meeting at The Town Hall on West 43rd St. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, as well as a number of City Council members, spoke at the gathering.  Director Palitz moderated a panel of representatives from 10 city agencies including the NYPD, the FDNY, DOB, and the NYS Liquor Authority, represented by Deputy CEO Jones. Borough President Brewer said that nightlife was “an economic engine in the City” generating over $48 billion in revenue. At the same time, she expressed concern that there were, by her count, 653 new liquor licenses issued this year through mid-October, though she did not state how many of those were liquor or grocery stores as opposed to restaurants, bars or hotels. That figure did also not take into account closings. Director Palitz said that the growth of licenses issued is only about 2%, less than in prior years.  She said that the goal of her office is to balance the vitality of the industry with quality of life issues and welcomes comments from the industry and from concerned residents.

Rivington Hotel to Be Sold

Paul Stallings ’s trendy Hotel on Rivington has been a fixture in the Lower East Side.  Stallings, a former Wall Street lawyer, opened the area’s premier boutique hotel in 2004.  Bernstein Redo, P.C. has represented the Rivington since it opened.  Then on the cutting edge, it was transformative of the neighborhood. The 21-story glass structure has had a number of restaurants operate within the hotel over the past decade. As reported this past weekend, now it is being sold to the Kushner family. This is the first venture into the hospitality business for the Kushner’s.

Voters Approve Term Limits on Community Boards

New York City voters yesterday overwhelmingly approved imposing term limits on community board members.  Those boards are intimately involved in the liquor license process in the City and have varying degrees of influence on license approvals.  Mayor Bill deBlasio’s Charter Revision Commission had suggested this change.  The view of the Mayor and the Commission was that the boards did not always reflect the changing demographics of the neighborhoods they represent and that new members would bring fresh ideas. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer opposed the change and was of the opinion that experienced board members should not be jettisoned and replaced by new inexperienced members who could not hold up against experienced real estate developers.  City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, formerly chair of Manhattan Community Board 4, also opposed term limits.  There were other council members however who supported the measure, as did the Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams. With yesterday’s approval of the proposal, board members will be limited to two four year terms and then would have to take a two year hiatus before they could be considered for reappointment.  This will go into effect in April 2019. Terms served prior to that date will not count towards the term limit.

Moxy NYC Downtown

The newest addition to the burgeoning downtown hospitality scene is Moxy NYC Downtown, a 30-story hotel that just opened on Ann Street in the Financial District.  Moxy, the Marriott Hotel’s experiential hotel affiliate, is known for its approachable service and vibrant, playful design aesthetic, brand hallmarks which are all on display at the new Moxy NYC Downtown.  The hotel, a newly constructed building overlooking Theater Alley near the Brooklyn Bridge, includes as a communal hub a third-floor restaurant, bar and lounge area that is unlike any other experience in Manhattan, complete with arcade games, skeeball, jenga, and even a basketball court for shooting hoops or hosting private events.  In addition to providing a lively social space, Moxy NYC Downtown offers a menu by celebrated Chef Akhtar Nawab (Alta Calidad) and a beverage program curated by restauranteur Jon Neidich (Acme, Happiest Hour, Tijuana Picnic). Bernstein Redo, P.C. is proud to be part of the Moxy team.