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Legal Issues for Bars and Restaurants

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Health and Safety Issues

Serious health issues may result when bars and restaurants do not properly handle food or drinks. In addition to the possibility of food poisoning, customers can be burned or injured by broken glass in a restaurant environment.

In order to help keep customers safe, laws are enforced regarding how food should be handled and stored, how surfaces should be cleaned, and much more. Restaurants and bars are subject to health inspections to ensure proper guidelines are followed.

Although state laws differ, most restaurants will be subject to two surprise health and safety inspections per year. Chain restaurants with 20 or more locations may be subject to different regulations than restaurants with only a few locations. For example, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes menu labeling regulations.

Permits and Licenses

Depending on the state and local laws, a new restaurant may need any or all of the following licenses: food service establishment permit, an alcohol beverage license, a general business license, and a food safety permit.

Restaurants and bars frequently have legal problems involving liquor licenses and selling alcohol to minors. Even the general process to obtain a liquor license can become highly complex.

Other Applicable Types of Law

  • Insurance: Some possible types of insurance you may need are property insurance, liability insurance, liquor liability insurance, or workers’ compensation insurance
  • Real Estate Law: Whether leasing or building facilities, zoning and other regulations may be applicable
  • Business:  Some business-related legal issues include business formation, tax implications, franchising
  • Employment Law: Any time there are employees of a business employment law issues may arise
  • Intellectual Property: Some intellectual property issues include registering the name of your restaurant as a trademark, registering for a recipe patent or trademark for food creations, and licensing music to play in the restaurant.

Should I Consult an Attorney?

An attorney can help you meet all the deadlines and fulfill requirements needed to open a restaurant. He or she may also be able to help you decide which legal issues are most pertinent to your business, and work though possible strategies for the best legal protection.

Photo of page author Rachel Wenzel

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 10-03-2016 09:29 PM PDT

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