Article written by:
Kristin Romaker, CPA
Assurance Manager

Recently, GBQ attended the Ohio Restaurant Association (ORA) Legal Live meeting featuring the law firm of Isaac Wiles. Isaac Wiles is based in Columbus, Ohio, and specializes in servicing restaurant and hospitality businesses.

The following topics were discussed:

  • The ORA presented on the ever-growing restaurant industry and restraints on the workforce. It is projected that restaurants will continue to grow per capita, however, the workforce needed to support the growth is at a decline.

Key Takeaway: One solution discussed was embracing re-entry programs for second chance employees with criminal backgrounds.

  • Service Animals: There was a robust discussion around complying with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) by servicing patrons with service animals. The primary takeaway was that operators cannot isolate patrons with service animals from the usual dining room.

Key Takeaway: My mother always told me no horsing around at the dinner table, but I don’t think she knew that adorable miniature horses are used as service animals. The ADA and Ohio law permit various animals based on the individual’s disability and need.

  • Liquor Permit Hot Topics: The attorney discussed urban legends surrounding BYOB practices and basics of liquor permit holders including, but not limited to, happy hour time cutoff, prizes and contests tied to alcohol purchases, and free food with the purchase of alcohol.

Key Takeaway: There is no such thing as a corkage fee at a permit holder’s operation. It is illegal for permit holders to permit outside alcohol consumption on premises. If you don’t play by Ohio’s rules, it won’t be a very happy hour for you!

  • Key Tenant Lease Provisions for Restaurants: Leases are very common in the restaurant industry and often use common language. The presenter noted 10 important clauses to add or remove when negotiating a new or renewal lease.

Key Takeaway: In restaurant and hospitality leases, it is common to have Percentage Rent. Operators should only pay on revenue earned on premises; therefore, they should add carve-out clauses to eliminate discounts and delivery revenue.

  • Premises Liability Practical Considerations for Bars and Restaurants: All patrons, whether invited or trespasser, could require an operator to exercise certain duties or care to ensure safety. The attorney suggested discussing your property and liability policies with your insurance agent to confirm proper coverage.

Key Takeaway: The most common premise liability claims are “slip and fall”.  Isaac Wiles noted, “If you have a good insurance policy, why not listen to your mother and be nice to your neighbors,” in regards to proper snow and ice removal and property care. In “slip and fall” cases, the burden is put on the invitee to prove the negligence of the owner. However, it is a good idea to have an insurance policy to assist in litigating any claims and provide proper care to your property. 

  • Cybercrime Risk: The Attorney noted Point of Sale systems are subject to cyber risks even if covered by third-party vendors. Operators need to vet vendors to reduce exposure.

Key Takeaway: Operators should inquire and obtain third-party SOC reports. This report will provide more information as to the system controls at the third party, as well as outline user (Operator) requirements. 

Need Help?

If you have questions about the audit process or need assistance with restaurant or hospitality services, GBQ can help! For additional information, please call us at 614-221-1120 or click here to contact us. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Any material discussed in this publication is meant to provide general information and should not be acted on without professional advice. GBQ advises those who read this publication to seek professional advice before taking any action based on the information presented. 


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Tags: Operations