Opening a Restaurant: Legal Issue Bootcamp

Donald Bernstein, of Bernstein Redo, P.C., will be moderating a panel at the Bar Association of the City of New York on January 22, 2020 at 9 a.m. on “Opening a Restaurant in New York City; Legal Issues Bootcamp.”  This continuing legal education course, sponsored by the Hospitality Committee of the City Bar Association, will feature four speakers. Topics include corporate issues, drafting and negotiating a restaurant lease, labor and employment issues particular to restaurants, and a segment on retail liquor licenses which will be covered by Mr. Bernstein.  It is a four hour course offering four CLE credits to attorneys. Registration is through the City Bar Association.

Gov. Cuomo Proposes Changes to Liquor Laws

Two significant changes in New York’s liquor laws have been proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in his 2020 State of the State message. The first relates to the tied house rule, a post-Prohibition law that prohibits anyone having any interest in a liquor manufacturer or wholesaler from having an interest in a retail liquor license. This rule is an absolute prohibition under current law, and even a de minimus interest is unlawful. Under the new proposal, the rule would only apply if the retailer is “wholly owned” by the manufacturer or wholesaler. This would not disqualify an investor from having a tied-house interest if the retailer is not wholly owned by the manufacturer or retailer. The second proposed change is to license motion picture theaters. Under current law, a movie theater can only serve alcoholic beverages if it meets the definition of a restaurant, that is serving full meals out of a kitchen in the charge of a chef.  The current proposal would impose some restrictions, but would remove the restaurant requirement. We will be tracking these proposals to see if they become law.

Stephen Starr’s Veronika

Adding to his portfolio of New York restaurants, award-winning Stephen Starr has unveiled his latest, Veronika. The new restaurant is located on the second floor at 281 Park Avenue South, a 45,000 square foot, six story building that is the new home to Stockholm-based Fotografiska. The building houses a photography and cultural museum with three floors of exhibition space. The 146-seat restaurant was designed by Roman and Williams, the design team behind Starr restaurants Le Cou Cou and Upland, among others. It is styled as a grand European café. Robert Aikens, formerly at the Rainbow Room, will be the chef. The name Veronika pays homage to Veronica, the patron saint of photography. Bernstein Redo, P.C. is proud to be a part of the Veronika and Fotografiska team.

QIA Buys St. Regis Hotel

New York’s iconic St. Regis Hotel was sold last month by Marriott International Inc. to the Qatar Investment Authority for $310 million. The hotel, located on East 55th Street off Fifth Avenue, was opened by John Jacob Astor IV in 1904. The famous Beaux-Arts building is eighteen stories with more than 200 guest rooms. Marriott had acquired the property from Starwood Hotels in 2016, and will continue to manage it for QIA.  This purchase adds to QIA’s existing portfolio in New York, including the Plaza Hotel which it acquired in 2018.  Bernstein Redo, P.C. is proud to part of the QIA team.

Sisters Named Best Caribbean Restaurant

Eater New York’s survey last month named Sisters Cuisine at 47 East 124th Street as the number 1 killer Caribbean restaurant in the New York area. This small eatery in East Harlem has been serving locals for over twenty years with top notch freshly prepared authentic Jamaican food. Congratulations to our dear friends Marlyn Rogers and her son RanDe on getting this well deserved top spot.

Toptable Group’s First New York Restaurant

For over three decades, Canada-based Toptable Group has defined elegant and approachable dining with renowned restaurants and award-winning chefs. Its regional restaurants in Vancouver and Whistler include Araxi, CinCin, Thierrey, Elisa, Il Caminetto, and Blue Water Café. This month the group opened its first New York restaurant, Oceans, at 233 Park Avenue South in Manhattan, specializing in locally and globally sourced seafood and sushi. Executive Chef Andy Kitko leads the team at Oceans, having trained in Michelin-starred restaurants such as Café Boulud and Aqua, and most recently at famed Estiatorio Milos. The space was occupied years ago by Canastel’s. Bernstein Redo, P.C. is proud to be part of the Toptable Group and Oceans team.

Nexus Club New York

Continuing the stream of private clubs opening in New York, Nexus Club opened its doors to its members in TriBeCa. The brainchild of British magnate Joe Lewis, Nexus Club New York occupies 34,000 square feet on the seventh floor of 100 Church Street. In addition to a full restaurant and bar, the club offers its members a 7,800 square foot fitness and wellness center with a spa and two studios for private workouts and a hair salon. Family services are also offered including child day care. Event space is also available. The club was designed by Morris Adjmi and includes artwork selected by Sotheby’s. Nexus plans to open similar clubs in Los Angeles, Toronto, and elsewhere. Bernstein Redo, P.C. is proud to be part of the Nexus team.

Michael White’s Morini

Celebrity Chef Michael White and his partner in Altamarea Group, Ahmass Fakahany, opened their new Morini in Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City last month. White was trained extensively in Paris and Italy and in 2002 became the Executive Chef at Fiamma at 206 Spring Street in Manhattan, which received a Michelin Star. He was named Esquire’s Best New Chef in 2002. Partnering with Fakahany in 2007, White opened a number of restaurants in New Jersey and New York, including Marea which garnered three stars from The New York Times and won Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation. The first Osteria Morini opened in October 2010 and a second was opened in Washington, D.C. in 2013.  Vaucluse, Altamarea Group’s first French restaurant, opened on East 63rd Street in 2015.  Bernstein Redo, P.C. is proud to be part of the Osteria Morini and Altamarea Group team.

WS New York – Hudson Yards New Members Club

A members club will be unveiled next month in Hudson Yards, New York’s newest neighborhood. Created by the developers of Hudson Yards – Stephen M. Ross and Kenneth A Himmel, and Marvin R. Shanken, the publisher of Wine Spectator magazine, WS New York will be a food and wine focused private club and located on the second floor of 37 Hudson Yards. The 92-story building will also feature a soon to be open Related-owners restaurant on the ground floor, and the first Equinox hotel. Bernstein Redo, P.C. is proud to be part of the Hudson Yards/WS New York team.

Course On New York Retail Liquor Licensing

On Friday, October 18th  at 9 am, Bernstein Redo, P.C.’s Donald Bernstein will be teaching a continuing legal education course on Retail Liquor Licensing in New York.  It is a three hour, three credit class sponsored by the National Law Institute, and held at Morgan Stanley, 1585 Broadway in Manhattan. We will cover all aspects of the law and process for licensing a hotel, restaurant or bar, including who is qualified to hold a license, tied-house restrictions, the 200 foot rule, the 500 foot rule, special permits including temporary and one day catering permits, what premises can or cannot be licensed, licensing private members clubs, the community board and State Liquor Authority process, and other many matters. There is no fee for these classes. Please contact Roy Fenichel at the National Law Institute ( if you would like to register, or