The legal side of the business is not the romantic part of running a restaurant, but it's also unavoidable.
And because Messner& Reeves LLC deals with those issues on a daily basis, the Denver-based law firm is now dishing up its insight on Restaurant Law Blog, helping Colorado restaurateurs (and would-be restaurateurs) to make sense of the legal red tape -- and also save time and money when they're hunting for answers to law-related questions.
"We realized that we have a lot of institutional knowledge," says associate Ed Hafer, who's spearheading the effort with John Shunk (who, yes, is my father; an interest in restaurants runs in the family). "We've worked with a lot of restaurants, we've got a lot of foodies who work here and we're really interested in the business. The hope would be that we can put together something that addresses issues we see come up a lot."
Those issues include everything from recommendations for how to successfully land a liquor license to whether or not you can fire a line cook who's bitching about his or her job on Facebook to legal issues surrounding tip pools.
The firm plans to focus on interpreting laws that affect restaurateurs, doling out free advice on such subjects as vendor contracts and a variety of bureaucratic processes, including trademarking restaurant names. It'll cover restaurants of all sizes, from start-ups to mega-chains, and every side of the law, from labor litigation to leasing. And it'll weigh in on current legal tiffs, like the new food truck rules, once they're established.
"Those are common things that we've come across, and we want people to be aware of what they should do," says Hafer. "But we also hope to meet new restaurants through the blog and address their issues, too."
On that note, the lawyers will devote posts to answering specific questions from industry professionals. "Right now, we're reaching out to people that we know and asking them to tell us what they'd be interested in reading about," says Hafer. "We're open to any suggestion."
Which sounds like a good way for a cash-strapped owner to get a little free legal advice.