Thursday, August 29, 2019

Hutson bill distills regulation down to palatable

Original Article from "The St.Augustine Record"
Posted: August 28th 2019
If you were looking for a category of Florida’s more mixed up laws, put beer, wine and liquor sales at the top of your list. Hectic, archaic or downright dumb make good modifiers.
This is especially true for the state’s budding business of craft beers and spirits. While it might be expected the state would cast a friendly eye on this new generation of small business entrepreneurs, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
We think it’s fair to say that in the next few years if nothing changes, it will be easier to buy a joint at a St. Augustine business than a drink on premise at a distillery.
That’s been a sticking point for Philip McDaniel, CEO and co-founder of the St. Augustine Distillery on Riberia Street downtown. The business is so popular trailer trains include it on their rounds. But McDaniel operates in a kind of 80-proof twilight zone.
He can’t grow his business because of a 65,000-gallon limit on production. And the paperwork to keep track of that is mind-numbing. He can’t sell more than six bottles to any one customer. Visitors ask him to ship them bottles, but by law, he can’t ship his product.
And he’s not allowed to serve his product on premise. If you’re wondering what he can do with his product, you get it. How would restrictions such as these play out in your business?
A bill seeking to remedy some of these silly restrictions made it through Florida’s House in this year’s session, but got tied up in the Senate.
Our own Sen. Travis Hutson took notice, McDaniel said, and has filed SB 138 to be heard in 2020 session — opening this year in January, not March (but that’s another editorial). Hutson’s bill takes on some of these inequities and also pares down some legislation on wine sales.
It would change a recent law called “Merlot to go” that allows patrons of a restaurant to take home a partly consumed bottled of wine, but only if it was consumed with a “full-course meal, consisting of a salad or vegetable, entrĂ©e a beverage and bread,” according to the law.” It does not specify rye, wheat or white, so...Continue Reading

Friday, August 23, 2019


By Peter Romeo 2019

While the restaurant industry contends with the usual summertime rush, lawmakers and regulators have taken up a number of measures that affect the business in small and large ways. Here are a few of the developments a busy operator might have missed.

New Jersey sets higher liabilities in wage dispute

Restaurants accused of underpaying servers or supervisors will face higher potential penalties under a law that was quietly passed this month in the Garden State. If authorities decide that a server should have been paid a full wage instead of the lower amount allowed under tip-credit regulations, or a salaried employee is adjudged to be entitled to overtime pay, restaurateurs can now be required to pay the wages that were owed, plus damages equal to 200% of the underpayment, a fine of $500 and 20% of the wages owed, and an administrative fee of $250. The fines increase for second-time offenders. 
Those amounts are set for civil disputes. The Wage Theft Act also exposes employers to criminal charges of disorderly behavior, a charge that carries financial penalties of $500 to $1,000 and possibly up to 100 days in jail.

If an employee is fired within 90 days of formally accusing an employer of underpaying or stealing a wage, the dismissal is presumed to be an act of retaliation, which carries its own set of criminal charges and financial liabilities. The only rebuttal, according to the law, is “clear and convincing evidence that the action was taken for other, permissible, reasons.”
The measure also extends the statute of limitations on wage disputes to six years, from the current cap of two years.
Because of the potential awards for employees who contend they’ve been stiffed on pay, the Wage Theft Act is expected to make New Jersey a choice location for filing unpaid-wage claims, according to a host of legal experts. “It will likely have seismic repercussions for employers operating in New Jersey, and will make New Jersey a destination venue for wage and hour class-action litigation,” the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius wrote in a news alert to clients and the legal community.Continue Reading

Wednesday, August 21, 2019


How To Attract More Customers To Your Restaurant5 min read

Serving the best food in the world doesn’t always mean a full restaurant every night if no one knows just how good your food is. Sometimes you need to do a little extra promotion to attract more customers to your restaurant. Once they’re inside and trying your food, they’ll keep coming back time and time again.


The easy part is making them fall in love with your food. However, we need to get those people in the door first in order for that to happen. 
Here are a few fun and efficient ways to get more customers in your restaurant in order for you to build a loyal following. 


Don’t waste your time and money on a generic flyer with every special, event and picture you can fit on it only to leave it out hoping people find it, actually read it and convert into a customer. Just distributing your menu doesn’t cut it anymore.
Instead, distribute what we call a “smart flyer” to attract more customers to your restaurant. A small, targeted flyer with one simple message and promotion. Make sure your offer lasts at least a month so that people can find the time to actually use it. What offer you use is up to you. If you’re including a coupon, give at least 20% off. You can also try giving away free appetizers or desserts.
You definitely don’t want to annoy people with your flyers. Distributing them weekly will annoy your customer base and make them less likely to visit your restaurant. Also, most flyers left under windshields will end up in the garbage. Present your restaurant in a professional way and you’ll see the benefits.


Start conversations with local businesses in your area. Many of them get catering for special lunches or meetings on a regular basis. Offer them a discount so that they order from you and make sure that you hand them your full menu in person.
This can create an ongoing revenue stream for your restaurant to increase your bottom line every month.


Giving people an extra incentive to try your restaurant for the first time is a great way to turn them into loyal customers. Usually an offer of at least 20% off is good enough. You can also try 2 for 1 deals, free appetizers and anything else you can think of that would bring more people into your restaurant.Continue Reading

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Craft Distillers Want Florida to Relax Liquor Rules

By Julie Gargotta
Photo from @bearandpeacock on Instagram on bearandpeacock at 7/27/19 at 1:48PM
for full article click below

WINTER PARK, Fla. — An unprecedented meeting brought distillers from all over the state — from Jacksonville down to the Keys — to Winter Park on Wednesday, hoping to craft a unified message to bring to Tallahassee.

  • Orlando-area businessmen say distilled spirits too tightly regulated
  • Distillers across state came together to create Florida Craft Spirits Guild
  • This is in response to state's restrictions on spirts, beer, the group says
  • "This is the biggest meeting of craft distillers in the history of Florida," said Paul Twyford, Winter Park Distilling Company's co-founder. "We want to have an environment where we have the ability to grow our businesses, to hire more people and create more consumer choice."
    In 2010, Twyford and Andrew Asher began making distilled spirits, vodka, and whiskey. A year later, the pair got into the distilled spirits market. 
    It was the first "legitimate" whiskey distillery in Orange County, Twyford said with a chuckle. "This is a labor of love."
    Asher recalled how it all came about.
    "We were sitting around over lunch thinking about how much we like to drink distilled spirits. 'Wouldn't it be cool to make them as well?'" remembered Asher. "It's something we could put our hands on. It's tangible and (we could) say, 'We made this.'"
    Asher, an attorney by trade, said that his background has come in handy in navigating the "maze of regulations" when it comes to the industry.
    Liquor in Florida is tightly regulated. You have to have a license to make it and a license to sell it. If you own a bar, restaurant, or liquor store, you have to have a vendor's license.
    And in between the manufacturing and selling — to those licensed to sell to the general public — is a layer called "distribution," which is also licensed, Asher said.
    He said that although businesses can procure a full liquor license, which in Orange County can run upwards of $250,000 to $300,000, those are not available to those who manufacture spirits at the same time. 
    In 2016, the pair branched out and founded their Bear and Peacock brewery, making and serving craft beer alongside the distilling company, where they created whiskey, bourbon whiskey, vodka, and rum.
    Their two businesses were brought under one roof and one name: the Brewstillery.
    But the rules that govern the brewery and distillery are very different. While customers can saddle up to the long, wooden bar and order a pint, they cannot order a cocktail made with their house rum or vodka. Instead, they can only ask for free samples of the spirits at a small gift shop window; a glass wall and doors separate the transactions. 
    Photo from @bearandpeacock on Instagram on bearandpeacock at 6/12/19 at 4:26PM