Third Party Providers Revisited

In July of last year this site included a post discussing the issue of third party providers, such as e-commerce and internet platforms that facilitate the purchase of alcoholic beverages at restaurants or package stores. The issue presented was whether such third party providers, or TTP’s, were considered trafficking in the sale of alcoholic beverages under New York law such that they would be required to obtain a license. Our July 2018 post noted a number of rulings made by the New York State Liquor Authority on the issue, which some commentators argued were inconsistent. On August 12, 2019, the SLA issued a draft Advisory #2019-x addressing this issue. The proposed Advisory would allow TTP’s to be paid a flat fee for its services, or to be paid 10% or less of the licensee’s profits, without requiring the TTP to be licensed. If a TTP is receiving more than 10% of the licensee’s profits, or exercised some level of control over the licensee’s business, then it would have to be licensed, or it would be considered illegally availing itself of someone else’s license. This proposed Advisory would apply to management companies, landlords, delivery services, website hosts, and some other third parties.  The SLA is inviting comments from the public and the industry before it finalizes this Advisory.

Soho House Brings its Co-Working Concept to New York

The international members-only club and hotel, Soho House, which opened its first co-working space in London in 2015, is bringing its new brand and concept, Soho Works, to New York this year. Soho Works has signed leases to take space at 10 Jay Street, and also at 55 Water Street, the location of its sister club Dumbo House. Two other Soho Works locations are planned in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan, one at 415 West 13th Street, and the other at 875 Washington Street.  Soho Works will be geared towards persons associated with creative industries, and will provide lounges, open spaces and private rooms for work, meetings, socializing and collaboration among its members. The work spaces will include a café. Bernstein Redo, P.C. is proud to be a part of the Soho Works team.

Shared Workspaces and Retail Stores

There are some hot issues and topics in the world of liquor licensing in New York. We featured one of those issues, licensing private members clubs which have become increasingly popular, in our May 24, 2018 post. Two other models that are emerging are shared workspaces and retail dry good stores. Traditionally, retail stores, including department stores, may have a restaurant or cafe tucked somewhere inside, but they typically do not sell or serve liquor outside of that defined and limited space.  There is a trend now to do away with that barrier and license the entire multi-level store. This would allow customers to roam the store with a glass of wine, or to have private events with food and beverages in any part of the store. This model can be seen for example in the new RH Gallery on Ninth Avenue in the Meatpacking District where the entire five story building is licensed, and in the new three story Neiman-Marcus in Hudson Yards.  On the other hand, there is opposition to Bloomingdale’s application to license its entire store at 504 Broadway in SoHo. The neighbors and local community board are pushing back, fearful that opening that door would then allow a host of other stores on Broadway, such as Urban Outfitters or Nike, to serve alcohol as well. Not long ago, the State Liquor Authority refused to license a two story venue that had a restaurant on the ground floor and spa in the cellar, determining that a spa is not a proper venue for a liquor license.

Another venue that does not traditionally have a food and beverage component, shared workspaces such as We Work, have also been looking to obtain liquor licenses as an amenity to its tenants. Some legal issues have so far stymied licensing some of those spaces, particularly those shared workspaces where separate offices are leased out to members. On the other hand, the Wing, shared workspace designed for women is licensed at their SoHo and Dumbo locations. Those locations, however, unlike the WeWork model, do not assign specific offices to tenants.  How the State Liquor Authority deals with licensing full retail stores and shared workspaces will be developing and we will be watching. Stay tuned.

Unpaid Wage Lien Bill Passes

The New York state legislature passed a bill last month that could have a significant effect on restaurant, bar and hotel owners.  The bill, if signed by the governor, would allow a business and personal lien to be placed on owners, managers and some investors of a business based solely on an allegation of a wage violation. The bill applies to claims of non-payment of wages under federal as well as New York law, including claims relating to improperly taken tip credits, withheld gratuities, overtime, uniform maintenance pay, and other categories. An employee making a covered claim can obtain a lien, similar to a mechanic’s lien that is filed by contractors, and can do so prior to proving his or her claim and even though the employee was paid in full. This new law has sweeping effects, and was opposed by the New York City Hospitality Alliance. The Hospitality Alliance encouraged restaurant, hotel and bar owners to contact their representatives in Albany to fight this legislation.  Though some amendments were made to the bill before it passed, it was nonetheless, according to the Hospitality Alliance, “a very unwelcome outcome.”  If signed by the governor, it will become law 30 days thereafter.

Pastis Reopens

In April 2018, we noted here the planned return of Keith McNally’s much loved iconic Meatpacking bistro, Pastis. It has been one of the most awaited restaurant openings of the year. The original Pastis closed five years ago, its old building was torn down and replaced by what is now the RH Gallery. McNally has teamed up with James Beard award-winning restauranteur Stephen Starr to reopen Pastis at 52 Gansevoort Street.  It has finally arrived. The opening will be this Friday, June 7, 2019. While Starr is taking control of the day to day operations, McNally is very much involved. The new place is not an exact replica of the original Pastis, but it is certainly reminiscent of it. Bernstein Redo, P.C. is proud to be part of the Pastis team.

Donald Bernstein Appointed to Committee on Cannabis Law

On June 1, 2019, the president of the New York State Bar Association appointed Bernstein Redo, P.C.’s Donald Bernstein to the Association’s Committee on Cannabis Law. In January 2018 Mr. Bernstein had testified before a joint committee of the New York Assembly on cannabis law. The State Bar Association committee is charged with serving as the association’s focal point for the evolving legal status of cannabis at both the state and federal level. Cannabis law is perhaps one of the fastest growing yet complex areas of the law that poses a broad spectrum of challenges. Much of the proposed New York legislation tracks parallel statutes and regulations controlling the licensing of alcoholic beverages. This Committee seeks to help NYSBA lawyers give their clients better advice through sharing educational resources, and otherwise helping New York set the highest possible legal and business standards for legalized cannabis products.

Le Jardinier Opens in Midtown

After having worked for over twenty years under the late award winning chef Joël Robuchon, the past eighteen of which were in Japan as culinary director of Tokyo’s three Michelin-star Le Château de Joël Robuchon, Alain Verzeroli has taken the helm of Le Jardinier, which opened this week at Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street. The new restaurant, in a building owned by Aby Rosen, and designed by Joseph Dirand has 62 seats. The menu is heavy on vegetables and is more seasonal and less technical than his mentor’s restaurants. Alain plans to open a second restaurant in New York called Shun with French-Japanese cuisine. Bernstein Redo, P.C. is proud to be part of the Le Jardinier team.

Opening a Restaurant: Legal Issues Bootcamp

On May 17, 2019 the Hospitality Committee of the Bar Association of the City of New York will be sponsoring a continuing legal education class on opening a restaurant. The program will focus on corporate, leasing, liquor license and employment/labor issues. Bernstein Redo, P.C.’s Donald Bernstein will be one of the presenters, speaking on issues relating to restaurant leases. Topics will include use provisions, default and assignment provisions, lease contingencies including liquor license approvals, issues relating to noise, garbage and odors, good guy guaranties, and other important issues. A total of 4 CLE credits will be given for the program which begins at 9:00 am at the offices of the City Bar at 42 West 44th Street.

The Shed at Hudson Yards

In a September 2017 post we noted the ongoing construction of The Shed at Hudson Yards, a multi-arts center designed for performing arts, visual arts, and popular culture. The Shed finally opened last month. The eight level 200,000 square foot base structure is a center for artistic invention bringing together leading artists working in multiple art forms. The most distinctive feature of this eight million pound building is its outer shell that slides over the adjoining outdoor plaza with six feet wide wheels to provide a 120-foot-high, temperature-controlled hall. As the building expands and contracts, it can work in many configurations, allowing multiple events simultaneously including a theater for up to 1,250 guests. Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group will open 120-seat Cedric’s, a bar and café on the ground floor of The Shed this week. It is mainly a spot for cocktails before or after a performance. Bernstein Redo, P.C. is proud to be part of The Shed and the Union Square Hospitality teams.

Aman Hotel New York

Aman is planning a new urban sanctuary in the heart of midtown Manhattan with the planned opening in 2020 of its first New York hotel at 730 Fifth Avenue. The super luxury hotel chain purchased the famed Crown Building on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street overlooking Central Park a few years ago. The building rises 26 stories and is an architectural gem. The first ten floors of the building will be a hotel with 83 guest rooms and suites. Floors 11 and above will be sold as private residences, including a penthouse. The hotel will feature the Aman club, a Japanese restaurant, jazz club, three-story spa, and a wraparound outdoor terrace on the tenth floor. Aman hotels are worldwide, including locations in Greece, China, Bhutan, Wyoming, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Turkey, among others. New York will be its third hotel in the U.S. It also plans to open in other European cities. Bernstein Redo, P.C. is proud to be part of the Aman New York team.