Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Restaurant Reality-Checks You Must Face

Restaurant Reality-Checks You Must Face

Restaurant Reality-Checks You Must Face
If you want to start a successful restaurant, first you need to face the facts. Take an honest look at the reality of restaurant ownership. Tackling challenges head-on will spare you wasted time and financial hardship.
Don’t let your dream of starting a restaurant become a nightmare. Take a hard look in the mirror. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Get prepared.

Starting and running a restaurant long term will probably be the hardest-won accomplishment of your life.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Service Animals in Restaurants

Have you had a guest enter your restaurant accompanied by an animal? If you are reading this, then you probably have. Understanding how to handle guests that are accompanied by an animal is very tricky due to the laws that protect individuals with disabilities and require a service animal.

Determining if it is a service animal or just a pet animal is difficult because of the laws protecting the individuals with disabilities. There are only certain questions you may ask the quest in your restaurant without violating the laws and their privacy. 

Luckily, must of the time, there will be an indicator that it is a service animal, such as a vest, leash, collar, or harness. In 2011, the Department of Justice implemented revised regulations regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

It is extremely important to understand the laws associated with service animals to avoid violating the laws and potential lawsuits. For this purpose, we will refer to the updated regulations of the ADA. 

What is a service animal?

The first step to understanding the laws for guests with service animals is to understand what a service animal is. 

Under the ADA, service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. 

The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability. Examples of the task service animal perform are:
  • Guiding people who are blind
  • Alerting people who are deaf
  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure
  • Reminding a person of mental illness to take prescribed medications
  • Calming a person with PTSD during an anxiety attack

Service animals are trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. 

The tasks a service animal has been trained to do is solely directed towards the person’s disability. Service animals are NOT pets, they are working animals. 

Dogs who provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. But some State or local governments have laws that allow people with emotional support animals to go into public places. 

Are Service Animals allowed in your restaurant?

“Under the ADA, State and local governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that serve the public generally must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities in all areas of the facility where the public is normally allowed to go.” 

For service animals to be allowed in public places, especially restaurants, the service animal must be under control. Service animals, under the ADA, must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless the devices would interfere with the service animal’s duties. If it does interfere, the individual must maintain full control of the animal through voice, signal, or other controls. 

Determining if the animal is a service animal. 

If you are unsure that the animal accompanied by the guest in your restaurant is a service animal or the task that the service animal may provide, you are only allowed to ask two questions
  1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
If you ask anything more than the two questions, it is violating the law and may be discriminating towards your guests.

These two questions can be asked to determine if the dog is a service animal or not. It is important to not ask more than these questions because it violates the guest’s privacy. 

Things you should not ask the guest with a service animal. 

It is important to understand what you cannot say or do to an individual that requires a service animal. Not only is it against the law, but it is extremely rude and can result in a lawsuit. 

After asking the first two questions that can determine if it is a service animal, you should not ask any additional questions. 

The following questions should be things that you avoid completely when addressing the guest with a service animal. 
  • You cannot ask about the person’s disability
  • You cannot require medical documentation
  • You cannot require a special identification card or training documentation for the service animal
  • You cannot ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task

Can you ask a guest with a service animal to leave?

You cannot discriminate or ask the individual with a service animal to leave just simply because. Even if allergies or fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to individuals with service animals. 

There are only two scenarios it is okay to ask the individual to remove the service animal from the premises:
  1. If the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control the service animal
  2. If the dog is not housebroken
If you do ask the individual to remove the service animal from the premises, you must still offer the individual the opportunity to obtain services without the animal's presence. 

Other Valuable Information. 

There is other stuff that is important when regarding an individual with a service animal. The following are:
  • You cannot isolate the individual from other patrons
  • You cannot treat them less favorably than other patrons
  • You cannot charge fees that are not charged to other patrons without animals
  • The service animals can accompany their handler through salad bars or self-service food lines.
It is important to not discriminate towards an individual with a disability that requires a service animal. 

Understanding what you can and cannot do will allow you to avoid discriminating and avoiding lawsuits. 

Remember, service animals are not pets. They are trained to complete specific tasks for individuals with disabilities. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

How will tattoos change the workplace?

Today, the topic of tattoos is a frequent issue that is circling the workplace. We are constantly surrounded by individuals who have tattoos and sometimes, we are not even aware of it. 

The millennials are the reason for the evolving change because they have more tattoos than any earlier generations. Because tattoos are growing in acceptance to society, it is leading to acceptance within the workplace. 

Medical professions, corporate, academic, and much more are accepting tattoos in the workplace because if they did not, they would lose great candidates. 

Just in 2015 alone, more than 520,000 companies changed their dress code policies to allow visible tattoos in the workplace because it creates more hiring options, positive public relations, and better retention rates. 

Although a high amount of companies has changed their dress code policies, many have not. That leads to the question, should tattoos be allowed in the workplace? 

Tattoos have always been around. 

Before we can decide if tattoos are right or not right in the workplace, we need to understand the history of tattoos and where they originate from. 

We need to face it, tattoos have been around since the beginning of human history. Scientific evidence proves tattoos have been a part of the human culture for thousands of years. 

In 1991, German hikers on the Oztal Alps near the border between Italy and Austria discovered the mummified remains of a prehistoric human. 

Carbon dating proved that the human, named Otzi, had been mummified for more than 5,300 years. The interesting fact about Otzi, he had no less than 55 tattoos on his body, ranging from his upper-neck to his ankles. 

Although tattoos have been around for thousands of years, tattoos did not appear in the United States until 1891, when the first tattoo machine was issued to an Irish Tattooist, named Samuel O’ Riley. Samuel opened the first tattoo parlor in the United States in New York City. 

According to the Time Magazine, only about 6% Americans had at least one tattoo. There is a drastic difference compared to today. Tattoos were common amongst sailors, prison inmates, motorcycle gangs, and gang members. 

The tattoos use to be the mark of rebels and individuals who were living on the outskirts of society and operated outside the social center. But what changed? How did tattoos become mainstream to society?

Tattoos are acceptable now, but why?
Tattoos were once frowned upon and our society held prejudices against people with tattoos because of what they use to represent. Tattoos are no longer limited to just sailors, prison inmates, motorcycle gangs, gang members, etc. 

But what was the cause of that? What changed to create the 6% of Americans with tattoos jump to 42% of Americans with tattoos. Society started to accept tattoos because of reality TV and famous people. 

In 2005, the first tattoo TV show, Miami Ink, first aired. This is when the acceptance of tattoos for our society changed. Since Miami Ink first aired, there has been 6 seasons, last season aired in August of 2008, and two spin-offs; NY Ink and LA Ink. 

The tattoo artists of the TV show Miami Ink, NY Ink, and LA Ink became very famous for their tattoo work. This led to famous people wanting to be inked by the tattoo artists. 

The famous people openly displaying their tattoos and being mainstream media icons, it created the society to view tattoos as acceptable. But the rise of acceptance has created issues within the workplace. 

How are employers supposed to approach the topic of tattoos being visible for their employees? First, the employers will need to decide if they want tattoos to be visible to their employees or not. 

It has been proven that people will still conduct business even if the employees of the company have tattoos. 

Employers are trying to decide. 

Corporate America is trying to figure out how to address tattoos policies; if to accept tattoos, or not to accept tattoos. There are various underlying issues that concern employers when making the decision of hiring individuals with tattoos, especially visible tattoos. 

Employers are concerned that individuals with tattoos will not be taken seriously because of them, the image or brand of the organization can be changed or viewed differently, and the concern if tattoos are being perceived offensive or hostile towards others. 

Tattoos are considered a form of expression, which is protected by the U.S. Constitution but does not mean companies must hire you. Tattoos are not protected by any laws. 

The employers that are concerned about tattoos are trying to figure out tattoo policies and how to implement them into the dress code. 

Employers, by law, can restrict the display of tattoos only if it is in their dress code policy and not discrimination. 

Even though employees are afraid their customers will not be involved if employees openly displayed their tattoos, a Fox News Survey found that 96% of Americans claimed tattoos would not change anything if they are receiving quality services. 

Tattoos will have an effect on jobs. 

If the employers do not accept tattoos, it will eventually have negative impacts. It is pretty simple as to why the millennials. 

The millennials are becoming of working age and they have the most tattoos compared to other generations. The biggest impact that tattoos may affect in the workplace is recruitment. 

People with tattoos will begin to turn down jobs due to the strict tattoo regulations for the dress code policies. 

Business will lose chances of finding qualified, experienced, and skilled employees because of their strict regulations on tattoos. 

Businesses are already seeing the impacts. Disney had to change their recruitment policies and dress code due to the issue of not finding enough qualified individuals without tattoos. 

The U.S. Military has the highest percentage of employees with tattoos, the U.S. Navy even changed their tattoo policies to allow bigger and more tattoos in hopes to recruit millennials. 

But businesses are seeing the positives from accepting tattoos. PetSmart changed their policies to allow visible tattoos if they were not vulgar. 

The results achieved by doing this was not expected. PetSmart gained over 20,000 social media followers, thousands of new website backlinks, and a press value of over $500,000 because magazines, televisions, and newspapers covered their story. 

Sailors, prison inmates, motorcycle gangs, etc., are not the only ones with tattoos anymore; CEO’s, bankers, business owners, lawyers, doctors, and even pastors have tattoos now. Companies will need to change their policies eventually or their business will suffer.

Only 4% of individuals that have tattoos have faced discrimination. While 76% of employees felt tattoos would hurt their chances with job interviews, 73% of employees say they would hire staff with visible tattoos. 

Tattoos in the workplace will show diversity, acceptance of different beliefs, etc. Tattoos are unique to individuals and can be a form of an expression of who they are, what they believe in, and cherish. 

Individuals that have tattoos will be judged regardless of how accepted tattoos are in society. It could be positive, or it could be negative. Tattoos are everywhere, regardless if you like tattoos or not, they are everywhere because of the millennials and being a part of mainstream media. 

A polled of surveyed adults displayed that they do not display tattoos as unprofessional. Tattoos do not justify how hard of a worker an individual is or how efficiently they can do their job. 

A strong work ethic, character, and values are in high demand, especially in the workplace. Professionalism is not based on how you look, it is based on how you treat others. 

In the United States, tattoos are becoming disconnected from unprofessional stereotypes. Personally, tattoos are fine to me. I would not judge an employee based on their tattoos. It does not define their work ethic to me.

What do you think of tattoos in the workplace? Would you refuse service because the employee has tattoos? If so, why?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Getting a Liquor License is Not Easy, But It is Worth It.

If you are reading this article, you are more than likely thinking about obtaining a liquor license for your new restaurant or a restaurant you already have open. 

Naturally, food and drinks go together, so why not get a liquor license to increase your restaurant’s profits because of the profit margins and the low labor cost. 

Having a liquor license comes with huge responsibilities and because of that, they are difficult to obtain. 

Let’s look at the information you need to know prior to obtaining a liquor license and then how to go about obtaining one. 

The Basic Qualifications. 

Before you try to get your liquor license, let’s make sure you even meet the qualifications first. Each state will have different requirements. 

But there are general qualifications, so let’s look at those first:
  • You must be 21 years of age. If you cannot drink legally, why would you be able to sell it legally? 
  • Criminal record. If you have one, the odds of you obtaining a liquor license are slim to none. 
  • You must obtain your seller’s permit from your state Department of Revenue first. 
  • Take the Beverage Server Training Course—most of the time you must do so. 

Liquor License Type. 

Before you contact your state’s Alcohol Beverage Control agency, you might want to have an idea of what type of liquor license you will want.

What type of alcohol do you plan to serve? Just beer? Beer, wine, and liquor? Do you make your own beer and wine? Do you want to sell hard liquor?

It is important to understand there are several types of licenses. Do not obtain the wrong one. Some licenses are for beer and wine, while others will allow you to sell hard liquor.

Here is a list of common types of liquor licenses for restaurants:
  • Beer and Wine—this is meant for beer and wine, no hard alcohol, or spirits.
  • Restaurant Liquor License—this is the general type of license. It will include all liquors, but you cannot exceed more than 40% of your total revenue. 
  • Tavern Liquor License—this is for restaurants that sell food and alcohol. But your alcohol sales are higher than 50% 
  • Brewpub Liquor License—if you make your own wine and beer, you will need this license. 

The Cost. 
Spending a lot of money on anything can be overwhelming. It makes you think if it is worth the cost and the stress that is associated with it. 

The cost of a liquor license will vary, and it is not necessarily cheap either. This is just an estimate, but the cost of a liquor license can range from anywhere between $300 and $3,000 or higher. 

It will differ for a variety of things. The total cost of a liquor license for your restaurant will be decided by a variety of factors. It will depend on the requirements that are required for you to obtain your liquor license for your restaurant. 

It will depend on your city, state, license type, etc. Some states will be higher, and some states will be lower. Some states have a set number of quotas per year for liquor licenses that will affect the cost and others do not. 

Some states require you to have a different license for all four levels of government—local, state, county, and federal. The type of establishment you are applying the liquor license for will have a factor on the cost and the type of alcohol you plan to sale. 

When you contact your state’s Alcohol Beverage Control agency, you will find out the cost of your liquor license. 

How to Get a Liquor License. 

Step 1: Contact your state’s Alcohol Beverage Control agency.

The Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) agency of your state will oversee your liquor license. It takes quite a bit of time to get approved for a liquor license.

The sooner you apply, the better. Depending on your state, requirements, you, etc., the process of obtaining your liquor license can take up to a year.

Also! Become very acquainted with the laws. The laws will vary between cities, counties, and states. 

Here are some things your state’s Alcohol Beverage Control agency might tell you when you contact them:
  • Qualifications to obtain your liquor license. 
  • Type of liquor you can and cannot sell. 
  • The hours you may sell liquor. 
  • Your limitations. 
  • Cost and type of liquor license. 
  • Permit availability and if any existing businesses are selling their liquor licenses. 

Step 2: Pre-application preparations.

To prevent delays in receiving your liquor license, it is best to be prepared prior to applying. Being overly prepped will reduce any risks of delays.

If you do not have everything ready prior to applying, this can make your application put on hold while you take care of it. There may be more permits that are required. But that will depend on your restaurant and what is needed.

It is important to double check, triple check, and even quadruple check to ensure everything is ready. 

Here are some permits that are important to have ready prior to applying for your liquor license:
  • Business License 
  • Sales Tax Permit 
  • Alcohol Tax Permit 
  • Food Handler’s Permit Health Permit 
  • Music Permit

Step 3: File your application.

After pre-applications preparations, it is now time to apply for your liquor license. You will more than likely mail-in your application. 

Alongside your application, you might be required to mail in additional documents.

Some things that may be required to be turned in with your application:
  • Processing Fee 
  • Background Check Forms 
  • Fingerprints 
  • Lease Agreement Certificate from Secretary of State 
  • Copy of Food Service Operator or Food Establishment License 
  • Any other applicable licenses/forms that may be required

Approval Process.

The approval process will differentiate from state to state. But the general idea of what it will look like is this:
  • The application is received by the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control agency and filed.
  • The Alcohol Beverage Control agency will determine the status and if there are any licenses available.
  • The Alcohol Beverage Control agency will work aside the Ohio Bureau of Investigation to process background checks to determine if the applicant has a criminal record.
  • A Division Compliance Officer will come do a physical check of your premises.
  • A public hearing will be conducted if there were any complaints filed against your liquor license application.
  • If no complaints, then the application should be accepted within 4-8 months and issued to you.

Renew Your License.

Depending on your state and local regulations, will decide the length of your liquor license. It can range from one to three years.

If you have followed the laws and regulations, renewing your license should be fairly easy. But you are not automatically guaranteed that you will have your license renewed.

Especially if you had received complaints or fines. The best recommendations are to operate reputably and follow the laws and regulations accordingly. This will ensure the liquor license will be able to be renewed.

Additional Information.

Serving alcohol comes with a lot of responsibilities. It is important to obtain these responsibilities to ensure you will be able to renew your liquor license when it comes time to do so.

It is important to train and educate your staff to understand your state’s alcohol laws. This will allow your staff to understand what to do. Such as when to check an ID to ensure that a minor is not being served alcohol.

When to cut off guests that too intoxicated. And when it is legal and illegal to serve drinks to the guest. Not only will this help increase the chances of your license being renewed, it decreases the chance of being fined and/or get your license suspended.

Another tip to ensure your license is safe is to take alcohol inventory accurately. This will allow you to be notified when/if someone is skimming off the top and/or doing anything illegal to jeopardize your liquor license.

Overall, it is important to stay up-to-date on the different liquor laws that are applicable to you and your license. By doing so, it will ensure you do not receive any fines or have your license revoked.

It is a responsibility to obtain a liquor license and it must be taken seriously.