New York’s Premier Attorneys & Specialists for Hospitality-Related Legal Services
Helbraun Levey is the premier law firm in New York City for bars, restaurants, hotels, chefs, developers and all food and beverage outlets. We represent first time entrepreneurs, multi-unit operators, hotel F&B management groups, general managers, chefs, developers and all other industry folks. There are many law firms that dabble in the hospitality industry, but none of them have our experience or our commitment to New York City’s hospitality professionals.
The firm was founded in 2005 by David Helbraun, who has over thirty years of experience in the restaurant industry. He was a bartender for many years and owned Pyramid Coffee Company in Manhattan before starting the firm. Helbraun Levey takes the customer service lessons David learned from working in the hospitality industry and applies them to our practice. Our firm’s hallmark traits include warm, responsive customer service, in-depth industry knowledge and a welcoming firm culture. We also understand the fast pace of the industry so we return phone calls and emails promptly, complete our work quickly and effectively, and we are always available to advise our clients on all aspects of operating a bar, restaurant or hotel in New York. It is the mission of our firm to provide unparalleled legal and licensing services to the hospitality industry.
David Helbraun is the Founding Partner and Chairman of the firm. Prior to founding the firm in 2005, David opened and owned Pyramid Coffee Company, a multi-unit coffee bar/cafe company based in Manhattan. He is a lifelong entrepreneur who has been running successful businesses in New York City for years.
David recently served as the Chair of the Hospitality Law Committee of the NYC Bar Association, an industry group comprised of over 40 of New York City’s top hospitality attorneys who regularly comment on the laws and regulations affecting the industry. He is also a board member of ROAR and has proudly served as a founding board member of Drive Change, a non-profit organization that trains formerly incarcerated young people in hospitality as a way to reintegrate them to the workforce. David is an avid Deadhead and jazz listener and also a hopeless Mets fan. He is admitted to practice in New York.
Joseph is a Founding Partner of the firm and oversees all New York State Liquor Authority and other licensing matters. Joseph’s primary area of expertise is New York State Alcohol Beverage Control Law and he has extensive experience practicing before the New York State Liquor Authority with regard to various licensing and disciplinary matters.
Joseph regularly attends local Community Board meetings on behalf of the firm’s clients and has developed a stellar reputation as a well-prepared and knowledgeable advocate. He proudly serves on the Executive Board of the New York State Restaurant Association, the Board of The American Institute of Food and Wine and he is admitted to practice in New York and New Jersey.
Employment Practices, Litigation & Trademark Groups
Hamutal is the Chair of the Employment Practices, Litigation & Trademark Groups. She brings a creative and strategic approach when evaluating claims brought on behalf of our clients or against our clients in order to achieve the outcome most in line with our clients’ objectives. Hamutal’s cross-disciplinary training and experience sets her apart from other litigators.
Hamutal is experienced in litigation involving commercial and business disputes, partnership and business divorce, real estate matters, employment disputes, and intellectual property matters. Hamutal is experienced in all pre-trial, trial, mediation, arbitration, and appellate proceedings across state, federal, and administrative forums.
Hamutal holds a J.D. from Pace University School of Law where she graduated cum laude. She obtained a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Fluent in Hebrew, she maintains close ties with Israel and visits frequently. Outside of work, Hamutal loves trying out New York’s latest hot spots and is on a never-ending journey to discover New York City’s best cappuccino.
Melissa is a senior associate attorney in the firm’s commercial litigation and corporate practice groups. Her career path has been unique and dynamic, in that she brings her seasoned litigation and courtroom skill sets to her corporate negotiations and business deals, and vice versa. Melissa’s multilayered and integrative practices allow her to look through a diverse lens as she works to achieve advantageous results for her clients.
Melissa is experienced in litigation and corporate matters involving commercial and business disputes, business formation, business restructuring, and financing. She focuses much of her work on the cannabis and wellness-related industries. Melissa is experienced in all pre-trial, trial, mediation, arbitration, and appellate proceedings across state, federal, and administrative forums.
Melissa holds a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School, and obtained a B.A. in English (minoring in Political Science and Spanish) from the University of Rochester.
In addition to her legal practice, Melissa’s yoga practice is of the utmost importance to her. She teaches in-studio classes in her home borough of Brooklyn. Melissa has found a natural and organic means of forging a connection between her legal and yoga practices. Her passion and dedication to interconnecting those two different, yet similar, worlds is what continues to propel her practices forward.
Tyler H. Morris
Tyler is an associate attorney in the firm’s Litigation and Employment Practices Groups. He focuses his practice on litigation and employment matters related to breach of contract, wrongful termination, discrimination and a variety of other commercial disputes. Tyler has represented a wide range of clients from large companies and small business owners to global investment banks and financial services executives. Tyler has also represented clients in alternative dispute resolution forums such as AAA, JAMS and FINRA. Prior to joining the firm, Tyler was an associate at a franchise law firm that represents both franchisors and franchisees.
Tyler holds a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School and has a B.A. in Leadership Studies and English from the University of Richmond. While in law school, Tyler served as an Executive Notes & Comments Editor of the Brooklyn Journal of Corporate, Commercial, and Financial Law and the Co-President of the Alternative Dispute Resolution competition team.
Outside of the firm, Tyler enjoys watching the Los Angeles Dodgers, listening to his record collection and cooking for his family.
Tyler is admitted to practice in New York state and the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York.
Claudia is the Senior HR Advisor working for the Employment Practices Group. Prior to working with HL, she was working in a Workers’ Compensation law firm where she obtained a wealth of experience helping to represent the firm’s clients in their work-related cases. She also brings a background as a Human Resources Manager within the hospitality industry, for a growing restaurant chain with over 400 employees.
Claudia graduated with aeric B.A. in International Business and spent time abroad for her studies in Europe and Canada. While in business school, Claudia won awards for her public speaking skills as well for her entrepreneurial efforts.
She lives in Hoboken, NJ with her family, her mini-Australian Shepherd and her turtle. She’s an avid reader, has a mild obsession with true crime podcasts, and loves to workout.
Real Estate Group
Chris is an associate attorney in the firm’s Real Estate Group. He advises clients on a wide range of real estate and transactional matters, including commercial leases, asset purchase and sale agreements, restructuring deals and ancillary real estate transactions.
Prior to joining the firm, Chris practiced in the Real Estate Group of a leading national law firm, where he advised landlords and tenants in connection with retail and office leasing matters nationwide. Chris received a Master of Science in Business Enterprise from Fordham University and a J.D. from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Chris is admitted to practice law in New York.
Jared is an associate attorney in the firm’s Real Estate Group. He works with clients on a variety of real estate and transactional matters, with a particular focus on commercial leasing.
Prior to joining the firm, Jared practiced in the commercial litigation department of a mid-sized law firm, where he represented commercial landlords, tenants, and not for profit entities in summary proceedings and negotiations of leases and licenses.
Jared earned his J.D., cum laude, from Fordham University School of Law and his B.A. in Political Science from Queens College. Jared is admitted to practice law in New York. Outside of work, Jared enjoys (sometimes) cheering on his beloved New York Mets, and exploring all of the great restaurants and experiences that New York City has to offer.
Raluca is an associate attorney in the firm’s Sales and Acquisitions Group and her practice is concentrated in assets purchase agreements and commercial leases.
Prior to joining the firm, Raluca worked for more than 6 years in several law firms in New York and gained solid experience advising multinational clients on investment mechanisms, mergers and acquisitions and commercial leasing transactions across a variety of industry groups.
Raluca graduated from Fordham University School of Law where she earned a Master of Laws in Corporate, Banking and Finance. She is admitted to practice law in New York.
Outside of work, Raluca is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys spending her time traveling, hiking and ice skating.
Andrew is the Chair of the firm’s Corporate Group. He is an experienced deal-maker for clients ranging from first-time entrepreneurs to global hospitality groups, counseling clients on matters including corporate formation and structuring, private placement of capital, equity transfers and sweat equity arrangements, food and beverage management agreements, vendor agreements, among others. He has developed a reputation for being a savvy negotiator, helping clients achieve the results they deserve.
Andrew earned his B.A. in Law & Policy and Philosophy from Dickinson College and received his J.D. with honors from Brooklyn Law School. While in law school, Andrew served as Executive Notes & Comments Editor of the Brooklyn Journal of Corporate, Commercial, and Financial Law, and competed as a national team member of the Moot Court Honor Society’s Trial Division.
Outside the firm, Andrew is an avid distance runner, and enjoys working up an appetite before enjoying NYC’s rich culinary scene.
Andrew is admitted to practice law in New York.
Winfield is a senior associate attorney in the firm’s corporate group. He counsels clients on a broad range of transactional matters, including entity formations, financing and corporate structuring transactions, negotiations and operational agreements.
Winfield received his J.D. from the University of Sydney and B.A. in History and International Comparative Politics from George Mason University. Prior to joining the firm, Winfield was Of-Counsel at a full-service boutique law firm, where he represented start-up, small and medium sized companies in technology, real estate, shipping and commercial operations. He is admitted to practice law in New York and New South Wales, Australia. During his free time, Winfield enjoys traveling the world and learning everything he can about societies and cultures, while also sampling haute cuisine and other local specialties.
Sarah is an associate attorney in the firm’s corporate group. She counsels clients on a broad base of transactional matters, including entity formations, corporate governance, equity and debt financings, commercial transactions, and trademark protection and enforcement.
Sarah received her J.D. from New York Law School and B.A. in Political Science and Journalism from Lehigh University. Prior to joining the firm, Sarah was an associate attorney at a boutique transactional law firm where she represented start-up and emerging companies in the technology, creative, blockchain, and consumer product industries. She is admitted to practice law in New York.
During her free time, Sarah enjoys spending time outdoors with her dog, completing the New York Times crossword puzzle, and finding the best slice of pizza by day and omakase sushi by night.
Chinedu is an associate attorney in the firm’s Corporate Group. He advises clients on a variety of corporate law matters, including entity formation, corporate structuring, capital raises, equity transfers, and general corporate counseling on day-to-day operational matters. Chinedu’s most recent experience involves representing managers and officers, investors, and businesses in various stages of the growth cycle.
Chinedu earned his first law degree from the University of Nigeria and his LLM from Columbia Law School, where he specialized in corporate law and finance. Prior to joining HL, Chinedu practiced at Nigerian and New York law firms, where he represented clients in mergers and acquisitions as well as general corporate and finance matters.
Outside of work, Chinedu enjoys attending live music events, watching European soccer, and spending time with his family and friends. He is admitted in New York and Nigeria.
Alexandra is the Legal Assistant for the Corporate and Real Estate Groups after starting with the firm as the Receptionist in 2021 and then providing administrative support to the Licensing Group in the Licensing & Communications Assistant role. In this role, Alexandra supports the Corporate and Real Estate Groups by elevating our client relationships and internal communications to ensure we are providing the best possible service for our clients. When she is not organizing and coordinating, you can find her spending time with friends and family, hanging with her cats, or trying out a new cookie recipe.
Harold L. Kestenbaum
Harold L. Kestenbaum is a franchise attorney who has been focused on franchise law and other matters relating to franchising since 1977. He has served as a franchise attorney to numerous regional, national, and international franchise companies across multiple industries, and he joined Spadea Lignana in 2019. Harold is a member of the American Bar Association’s Antitrust Section, the Antitrust Section’s Forum Committee on Franchising, and the Subcommittee on Franchising of the American Bar Association’s Corporation Banking and Business Law Section. He is a founding member and past Chairman of the New York State Bar Association’s Franchise, Distribution and Licensing Law Section, and he currently serves as Chairman for its Education and Seminar Subcommittee and was a member of the International Franchise Association’s Supplier Forum Advisory Board. He has won numerous awards, including being named among the top 100 franchise lawyers in North America by Franchise Times and being named one of the three best franchise lawyers in the New York metro area by New York Magazine. He was a board member of Sbarro for 22 years, he wrote a book on how to franchise your business called, “So You Want to Franchise Your Business” and he was the founder and CEO of a publicly traded franchise consulting company.
Harold is passionate about working with entrepreneurs and representing companies that want to expand their business model via franchising. Outside of franchising, he spends much of his time with his five grandsons, which gives him the proper perspective on what life is all about.
Consumer Packaged Goods Group
Teepoo Riaz is Of Counsel to Helbraun Levey. He leads the Consumer Packaged Goods practice, advises on high-value deals and issues, and serves as outside general counsel to companies who need an experienced, trusted, and pragmatic partner to assist them on everything from planning for the future in turbulent times to daily business operations.
Combining extensive in-house, AmLaw 100 law firm, and hands-on industry experience, Teepoo has been at the intersection of law, business, and lifestyle for more than 20 years. He is the former general counsel and corporate secretary of FreshDirect, a leading e-commerce grocer whose sale he led to Netherlands based multinational grocer, Ahold Delhaize. He is a collaborative partner to all clients, bringing his skills in strategic decision making, fearless advocacy on evolving issues, and excellence in law and business to achieve clients’ goals while minimizing risk.
Teepoo partners with companies to identify opportunities, preserve options, and protect agility while anticipating business, reputational, ethical, safety, security, regulatory, and legal risk. He has extensive experience across all areas of a managing and running business: board of directors and executive advising, corporate governance, equity and debt financings, policy and governmental relations, compliance (including food safety, people safety, and licensing), commercial contracts, consumer-facing interactions (including both e-commerce and retail), purchases and sales of businesses, intellectual property, complex litigation management (including class actions), technology, and real estate.
In addition to being a lawyer and business partner, Teepoo is a restaurateur, chef, and active community member. A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education, he externed at Eleven Madison Park, a Michelin 3-star restaurant in Manhattan. He has a strong entrepreneurial bent who opened and ran an upstate New York restaurant and is now a partner in a restaurant in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut slated to open Summer 2023. He has extensive local board experience including having served as board treasurer of his kid’s school. He is an avid cook, a zealous alternative music fan, voracious consumer of news and politics, and loves dinosaurs. He resides in Brooklyn and Columbia County, NY with his wife and children.
Heather is the Director of Licensing at Helbraun Levey. Heather began her career at the firm as the receptionist and is now the integral leader of the Licensing Group. Heather is responsible for new liquor license applications, helping client’s vision become a reality.
Heather works with clients throughout every step of the liquor licensing process; from liaising with community boards, block associations and other residential organizations, to preparing applications for New York City Community Boards and the New York State Liquor Authority.
Heather spent over 6 years working in the hospitality industry, bartending and serving at some of the finest restaurants and bars in Charlotte, before relocating to New York City. She has a passion for both the culinary and pastry arts, and when she is not out exploring the city’s amazing food scene, she is at home creating delicious dishes of her own. Heather also enjoys traveling and being outdoors.
Matt is an associate attorney in the firm’s Licensing Group. He assists clients throughout the licensing process, from helping to file new applications, to advocating on their behalf at Community Board and State Liquor Authority meetings.
Prior to joining the firm, Matt worked in the Corporate Group at a major real estate and technology company, where he advised clients on a wide range of issues including expansion, strategic partnerships, and marketing initiatives. Matt received his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law and holds a B.S. in Finance from Tulane University in New Orleans. He is admitted to practice law in New York.
The son of Irish immigrants, Matt grew up on Long Island where his family was heavily involved in the hospitality and liquor industries. Now a long-time resident of Brooklyn, he makes it a point to stay as informed as possible on the industry that he loves. Matt always feels at home around great food, great drinks, and great music, which naturally means he makes a trip back to New Orleans any chance he gets.
Jake joined Helbraun Levey in 2018 as part of the firm’s Licensing Group. Working closely with the Director of the Licensing Group, Jake is responsible for new liquor license applications, as well as corporate change and alteration applications. He works with clients throughout every step of the liquor licensing process from liaising with community boards, block associations and other residential organizations, to preparing applications for New York City Community Boards and the New York State Liquor Authority. Jake also works closely with the Permitting Unit at the New York State Liquor Authority, helping to secure permits for events big and small throughout New York.
Jake moved to the city as a teenager and has been practicing yoga and Pilates for over 10 years. He also enjoys traveling, skiing, reading and eating all of the vegan desserts he can find. He finds a lot. Jake graduated with honors from conservatory in 2011, and again, with a secondary degree in Fine Art, in 2013.
Alexa joined the team in 2019 as a receptionist, after spending 5 years in the hospitality industry. Today, Alexa is a licensing clerk, working within the firm’s Licensing Group. Here, Alexa is responsible for liquor license renewals, sidewalk cafe applications, Department of Health applications and Department of State filings.
A born New Yorker, Alexa loves to spend her free time exploring her city, trying new restaurants, practicing yoga, reading, and watching cooking videos on YouTube. She graduated with honors from Brooklyn College and is a published writer focusing on beauty, mental health, womanhood, and culture.
Adrianna is the newest addition to the firm’s licensing team. She has recently transitioned from making all your favorite drinks to helping you obtain your liquor license. Adrianna graduated from The Fashion Institute of Technology with honors in Art History and Museum Professions. She spends her free time painting, listening to music and exploring her favorite NYC museums.
Cara is the Licensing & Communications Assistant since February of 2023. Prior to working at Helbraun Levey, Cara was a teaching artist at a non-profit arts empowerment program on Staten Island, where she grew up. Cara graduated with an AFA in Film & TV from NYCDA. Additionally, she holds a BA in Psychology from CUNY Brooklyn College.
At Helbraun Levey, Cara provides administrative support to the Licensing Group and clients (new & old). She facilitates client meetings and intake calls. When she is not organizing and acting as a sounding board, you can catch Cara jamming out with her band in the vibrant neighborhood of Bushwick.
Bethany Rice is the firm’s Director of Administration. She is a seasoned legal administrator with over 17 years of experience helping law firms run smoothly.
Prior to joining the firm, Bethany spent five years in mid-town in the operations department at a larger, general practice firm, handing financials and other administrative duties. The earlier years of her career were spent wearing all the hats in several small firms located in the financial district. Thrilled to back downtown, she is pleased to be helping the industry that makes this amazing city run.
Before landing in legal administration, Bethany held a variety of positions, including hotel front desk and reservations as well as a Broadway costume shop and an ice cream parlor. When she is not working, you can find her at home with her spouse and cats, knitting and crocheting her way through her yarn stash, seeking out gluten free restaurants, or cheering on the NY Rangers.
Alex joined the firm at the beginning of 2020 as the Receptionist, and in 2021 Alex became the firm’s first Client Relations Manager. Alex’s focus on the client experience and passion for collaboration and communication align beautifully with Helbraun Levey’s hospitality-centered mission, and she works with the rest of the firm to ensure our standards of excellence are met and exceeded every day.
Outside of the firm, Alex produces live art, hangs with their rescue pup in the beautiful parks of Inwood, and cooks unnecessarily complicated dishes.
Sally Mahadeo is the Billing Supervisor, joining the Helbraun Levey team as of March 2023. Sally has had over 10 years of experience in the legal industry, where she used her expertise in billing and provided administrative support. Sally has a BS in Business Management from CUNY School for Professional Studies.
When she is not working diligently to provide billing support for our clients and attorneys, Sally prioritizes spending time with family and friends, watching a good movie, and traveling to new and exciting destinations, crossing them off her bucket list one continent at a time.
Tyler Matthews, a passionate Notre Dame football enthusiast hailing from South Bend, Indiana, serves as the firm’s receptionist. Tyler brings a wealth of hospitality experience to the role, with a background in bartending, bar management, and management of a popular events venue in Brooklyn. Tyler also served in the United States Air Force on active duty for six years, providing support in global logistics to Air Force missions around the world. Tyler’s core philosophy revolves around the belief that everyone wants to be seen and heard; this belief drives him to champion effective communication, both in his professional and personal life. Tyler holds a degree in film production and television radio from Brooklyn College, enjoys stand-up comedy, and is an avid listener of podcasts.
Sydney is a Licensing Law Clerk. She works primarily in our Licensing Department assisting clients with their Liquor License Applications. She is also in her second year of law school at New York Law School. She is a member of New York Law School’s Media, Entertainment, and Fashion Law club and the Cannabis Law organization. Prior to law school, Sydney studied International Affairs at Florida State University.
Sydney has many years working in the hospitality industry as a server and hostess. When not working, Sydney can be found on her couch with a glass of wine watching scary movies.
Caitlin is a Law Clerk in the firm’s Employment Practices and Litigation groups. Under the guidance of HL attorneys, she assists with matters including employee handbooks, industry compliance, and civil lawsuits. Caitlin is currently a 2024 J.D. candidate at New York Law School. Prior, she obtained a dual B.A. in International Relations and Anthropology from Syracuse University and remains a devoted Orange fan. After law school, Caitlin plans to be admitted to practice in NY.
A Queens native, Caitlin enjoys spending time with friends and family at some of the best restaurants and bars across the boroughs. Outside of the firm and school, Caitlin can be found exploring the city’s parks, coffee shops, and thrift stores, skimming through a NY Times bestseller or crossword, and watching Sunday Giants football alongside her dad.