How Sweet It Is!!
Originally Published : June 24, 2021
Dear HL Clients and Friends,
Isn’t it just so sweet to be back in the shit? Isn’t dealing with a skeleton crew staff and clueless DOT inspectors and the resurrection of Landy and all the usual hospitality hurdles less bothersome these days? There is something comforting about handling the hassles that we know. It’s calming to go about business as usual as the big apple bureaucracies kick into gear lassoing us in their red tape and busting our chops. We are home at last and although it’s often frustrating and exhausting, these are our problems and we can solve them in our sleep and we will do just that. And finally, we can take a breath and acknowledge that everything is going to be alright.
Of course, griping is a huuuuge part of what we do to blow off steam so first, let’s talk about the RRF. After intense industry lobbying and with much fanfare, Congress included $28 Billabongs in the Stim Pack to be earmarked for the restaurant industry. Every Mom & Pop & Fast Caszh & Restaurant Group applied and a few got funded and then the money was gone and now, wait in line. We have been kindly asking for more please sir but the response from our Dearly Elected and the overwhelmed SBA has consisted of nothing more than empty promises and false hope and it’s been silence and confusing messaging and the result of it all has ended in bupkes for most restaurants.
And then, the SBA was sued for discriminating against white, male business owners that resulted in their rescinding many of the approved applications and putting a halt on fund distribution. Now, we are in a state of limbo as the case travels through the long and winding court system. However, if Congress adds $60 billion to the program as is being proposed, the lawsuit would be moot and everyone would get funded and we can all move forward with getting our businesses up and running and healthy again. Unfortunately, I don’t think Mitch and the Sideparts give a harumph about anything other than making the D’s look bad so I’m not exactly optimistic that this will happen.
And here in our neck of the woods, our own beloved bureaucrats are back it. The delightful dolts at the DOT are forcefully cracking down on outdoor structures and issuing removal orders or violations with random and wrong interpretations of their own guidelines. Expect things to get hairier with DOT inspections as the battles for outdoor space continue to pick up steam. We are going to have to fight hard to keep our sidewalk and street structures but fight we will for those all important extra seats.
Here are some other things of note that are happening in the industry. Let’s lead off with Joey Regs..
Joey Regs Says…
Isn’t it just wonderful that everything is open and running and customers are coming back and the register is ringing again? Cue the health inspectors, cue the rollbacks of the special allowances that we’ve been granted from City and State Government over the last year, and of course, cue all of the other bullshit that comes along running a hospitality business in the Big Apple.
On the regulatory front, here are the big ticket items that you ABSOLUTELY MUST know about:
Alcohol to-go is no more after midnight today: In March of 2020, Governor Cuomo declared a State of Emergency in New York, which, amongst other things, gave him the right to immediately enact a number of executive orders. It was this suite of executive orders which gave all [appropriately] liquor licensed establishments the ability to serve mixed drinks to go, as well as bottles of wine and liquor at retail. Now that the Emergency Declaration has been rescinded, all of those Executive Orders that followed are being lifted. So, as of midnight tonight, you, as on-premise licensees, can no longer sell bottles of wine, spirits or mixed drinks to go. What about the excessive inventory you are all holding now, depending on this new business model that you have enjoyed over the last year+? Couldn’t they give us a bit more notice than 30 hours? Couldn’t they have at least given us the freaking holiday weekend?! All great questions. All deserve to be answered. None will be. Yay New York State!
Face-to-Face: Now that there is no longer an active emergency declaration, in-person governmental and quasi-governmental meetings will resume. This means Community Boards; this means State Liquor Authority; this means assorted City tribunals. Now, while in-person meetings will resume, [effective immediately apparently] my hope and anticipation is that there will be a less-immediate wading into this. The lobbyists are already hard at work. We do know, factually, that at least one Community Board: Manhattan CB3, and the New York State Liquor Authority, are already planning for their next board meetings to be done in-person.
Amnesty Island: While the above items are more negative, please allow me to provide at least one positive one here! The SLA has no choice but to repeal the booze-to-go allowances-it’s a decision that’s completely out of their hands. They are, however, trying to find ways to protect outdoor structures being used in the Open Restaurants Program in NYC and similar programs throughout the State. As there is a current bill pending consideration in Albany, to continue the temporary allowances for use of certain municipal space by restaurants and bars, they have decided to grant “Safe Harbor” to such operators in the meantime, and until there is an ultimate decision. So, in other words, anyone participating in the Open Restaurants or Open Streets programs, may continue to serve there, without concern that the SLA will rollback that allowance as well (at least for now.)
Quick reminder about our next Canna chat installment: Teamwork Makes The Green Work. Tune in next Wednesday, June 30th at 3:00 PM to learn what a successful cannabis business’ operations team looks like, where they come from, and how crucial it is to get this part right.
Joey Regs Out.
Last Call For Lease Workouts by Joe Taylor and Hamutal Lieberman
With 1932-A expiring at the end of this month (and no word on a further extension), it is important to take a moment and decide the next steps with your lease.
If you have made it to this side of the pandemic, hopefully you already have an agreement with Landy- IN WRITING- resolving the COVID rent issues. If you don’t have it in writing, you’re giving Landy way too much credit. Don’t mess around with this.
If you don’t have an agreement with your landlord, will your landlord agree to a rent relief deal? If you were able to secure a grant from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, or have PPP funds remaining, it is time to work out a deal while you can still leverage 1932-A. If not, then you need to consider triggering your rights under 1932-A to avoid any personal liability.
If you need assistance or advice, please contact Joe Taylor (email@example.com) or Hamutal Lieberman (Hamutal.firstname.lastname@example.org), the Co-Chairs of the Litigation Group, to discuss this further.
Here’s some more RRF and PPP News from our green visor crew at the accounting firm of Scotto Melchiorre…
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) closed to new applicants on May 24, receiving 362,000 applications and requesting a total of $75 billion in funds. We are seeing RRF approvals at a slow rate, but they are surely still happening. Approvals and issues will be communicated with the applicant via email, but we strongly recommend checking your online portal daily for updates as well. Additionally, Congress has been introduced to the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act which would fund the RRF with an additional $60 billion in funds. This has not yet been voted on, nor are we able to confirm the likelihood of this bill passing.
If you received prioritized (women, veteran, socially/economically disadvantaged) approval within the first 21 days of the program and have not received funding, keep an eye out for your portal and emails as we are seeing the SBA decline fund disbursements. This is due to three separate lawsuits against the SBA which have led them to stop processing priority applicants and nearly 3,000 applicants who were approved for priority funding have since had the approvals/funding rescinded. The SBA will continue to maintain your processed application in its place in the queue based on your date of application. If Congress provides the SBA with additional money, the SBA will continue to process in the order received and fund applications as approved until the additional money is exhausted. You will not be required to submit a new Restaurant Revitalization Fund application.
If you receive a decline email for another reason, such as “the SBA has decided that your award can not be approved due to an ineligible business type or other related reasons. The SBA will not take any further action on your application.” we strongly urge you to reach out to the SBA at 1-844-279-8898 and through the platform inbox to obtain further details as to why the application was declined, and if inaccurate reasonings, how to resolve.
PPP – PPP Forgiveness applications are due 10-months after the end of your covered period. We strongly advise you to begin gathering your documents for forgiveness. Please reach out to email@example.com if you need assistance with your forgiveness application.
If you have any questions/concerns related to use of funds and recordkeeping, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Onboard the Right Way! by Lee Jacobs
The most common question we received in our Employee Practices Group over the last few weeks is what is the proper way to re-hire or hire employees in the post-pandemic work and what paperworks is necessary to complete the on-boarding process? Well, the answer is…EVERYTHING! Do it all over again.
We know this is a hassle, but it’s the best option. It lets us make sure that any pre-pandemic employment practice “issues” are not brought into a post-pandemic world.
Rehires should be given the following documents for their signature and their/your records:
- New, updated handbooks;
- New rate of pay acknowledgements (LS54s, LS55s);
- Required notifications, posters, and yearly sexual harassment prevention training (yes, it’s still a thing, and we offer this service online and in-person);
- New W4s – COVID – babies are also a thing;
- New I-9s, only if you don’t have them or the current ones on file are more than three (3) years old.
We are happy to assist with building “Old Hire” packets for your post-COVID needs, as well as updating your employee handbook and onboarding documentation. A 2019, or even a 2020 handbook, most likely does not meet all 2021 requirements. Not only would we be thrilled to help get you caught up, but we can also do it for a flat fee! Please feel free to reach out to Lee Jacobs, at email@example.com, Chair of the Firm’s Employment Practices Division, for further assistance.
If you would like to register for the HR Confidential monthly newsletter—filled with best practices, HR tips, and fun (really!) asides—please click on the link below:
HL Firm News
We are moving next month and have just signed a lease at 40 Fulton Street. It’s an LEED building and its right across the street from the Seaport and we are all jazzed up about it. Home Studios is designing the space and it’s going to be beautiful. We will be temporarily moving to the 5th floor at 40 Fulton until our space on the 28th and 29th floors is built out.
We would also like to welcome Jared Wiesel to our RE Group and Alexandra Schneider as our new Receptionist. We are also pleased to announce that Alex Randrup, has been promoted to the newly created position of Client Relations Manager. This position was created to help enhance the customer experience for our clients and Alex will help ensure that as HL continues to grow, our customer service keeps pace.
As Prog Rock legends, Emerson Lake and Palmer used to say: Welcome back my friends/ to the show that never ends…