Howard & Howard's inter-disciplinary Hospitality Group provides a wide range of services to the heavily regulated hospitality industry.
We represent a number of iconic brands in the restaurant, hotel, entertainment, amusement, and alcoholic beverage industry. We provide a full-service solution for owners, operators, managers, franchisors/franchisees, investors, manufacturers, suppliers and vendors involved in the industry, and provide a wide range of services including: (i) raising capital, (ii) developing new concepts and properties, (iii) navigating local, state and federal regulations, (iv) licensing and enforcing intellectual property, (v) negotiating industry specific contractual and licensing matters, (vi) advising on labor, employment and tax matters, (vii) acquiring, merging or disposing of hospitality businesses or properties, and (viii) representing lenders, secured creditors and franchisors in distressed real estate and bankruptcy matters involving hospitality owners, operators and franchisees.
Howard & Howard’s Hospitality lawyers not only provide seasoned legal counsel in their respective areas of practice, but they understand our clients’ hospitality businesses, and are familiar with the issues they face at every stage of the evolution of a hospitality business. The industry specific legal and operational knowledge that we provide allows us to respond efficiently, anticipate issues, and manage risk. Our clients are able to utilize our deeply rooted industry relationships to grow their businesses, resolve operational problems, facilitate solutions to regulatory challenges, effectively negotiate industry specific contractual matters, and efficiently resolve distressed workouts involving hospitality properties.
Our Hospitality Industry Group is comprised of 7 Subgroups that collectively serve as general counsel to numerous iconic brands across the country ranging from early-stage entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies. They are as follows:
The Licensing/Regulatory Compliance Subgroup provides counsel on various local, state and federal regulatory matters, and provides services that include:
- Preparing state and local applications for all types of liquor licenses (manufacturing, distributing and retailing) for various types of hospitality businesses at the local, state and federal level;
- Representing buyers and sellers of hospitality businesses, properties and liquor licenses, involving the drafting and negotiating of purchase agreements that comply with the applicable regulatory requirements;
- Representing owners, franchisees, franchisors, and managers in connection with the drafting and negotiating of management agreements, concession agreements and operating agreements that comply with the applicable regulatory requirements; and
- Providing general counsel on operational issues, which include advising on compliance of advertising, brand promotion, contests, games, giveaways, and newly enacted rules or regulations affecting hospitality businesses.
The Real Estate Development Subgroup provides counsel on the development, acquisition, lease, or sale of hospitality properties across the country, which includes:
- Representing applicants for zoning approvals, rezoning, special land use permits, or use variances required for the development and operation of various hospitality businesses;
- Representing buyers and sellers of hospitality properties in connection with acquiring or selling properties;
- Representing landlords and tenants in lease negotiations for hospitality properties; and
- Representing owners, managers, concessionees, and operators in the negotiation and drafting of management agreements, concession agreements, or operating agreements.
The Commercial Transactions & Securities Subgroup provides counsel on various matters, including:
- Preparing private placements, Regulation D offerings, proxy solicitations, and public offerings for hospitality companies;
- Representing hospitality companies and investors in asset and stock transactions, mergers, spinoffs, tender offers, joint ventures and strategic alliances;
- Negotiating industry specific vendor contracts, master service agreements, and licensing agreements; and
- Providing general counsel on corporate and transactional matters.
The Bankruptcy and Workout Subgroup provides counsel on various matters, including:
- Representing lenders and secured creditors in distressed real estate and bankruptcy matters involving hospitality owners, operators and franchisees;
- Representing franchisors nationally through a developed network of local counsel partners in preserving the value of their franchise relationships upon the bankruptcy filing of their franchisees;
- Negotiating loan workouts for distressed hospitality properties; and
- Representing court appointed receivers on transactional and operational matters in connection with selling or operating hospitality businesses.
The Tax Subgroup provides counsel on various matters, including:
- Advising on general tax choices (e.g., corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, etc.), and state and local tax matters for hospitality clients;
- Processing appeals of IRS audits to the U.S. Tax Court and federal district courts, and appeals of state audits to the applicable tax tribunal;
- Advising on employment taxes (including contractor v. employee status) for hospitality operators; and
- Handling property tax appeals before state tax commissions and tax tribunals for owners of hospitality properties.
The Intellectual Property Subgroup provides counsel on various matters, including:
- Counseling on selection of names for services or products, including individual items such as menu items, signage, Internet activities, and the like;
- Defending any contentious proceedings on the use of names, and asserting any claims of copyright infringement;
- Counseling on the selection of and protection of copyrightable works generated independently by the client; and
- Counseling on trade secrets, restrictive covenants, and other employment related intellectual property issues.
The Labor & Employment Subgroup provides counsel on various matters, including:
- Representing employers regarding union avoidance, collective bargaining, grievance handling and arbitration;
- Representing employers before state and federal agencies including EEOC, NLRB, DOL, OSHA, OFCCP and similar state and local agencies;
- Litigating employment related claims before agencies and state and federal courts
- Training and counseling management regarding labor and employment matters; and
- Represent employers in immigration related matters including obtaining visas, I-9 audits and workplace inspections.