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Texas Legal Guide to Starting Your Own Restaurant

You don’t want to hire a Texas restaurant lawyer fresh out of law school or even with substantial recent experience which is typically the not-so-good recipe tossed out at the large Texas law firms.  Representation of a Texas restaurant client demands actual experience over many years, not just with the basic legal issues but the difference in Texas restaurant business models based on cuisine.

I’m not kidding.  Let me explain. I represented my first world-class restaurant, an Italian Restaurant in the historic Georgetown area of Washington in 1990. Most of my current legal competition was not even born yet or certainly aspired to more immediate avocations such as blocks and balls.  Although still bound by the attorney-client privilege, my representation of Filomena’s Ristorante was multifaceted and successful. They became known as the Restaurant of Presidents and have been featured on numerous food channels and networks.  One thing I will share about fancy Italian restaurants is that the chef’s ego matches the quality of the cuisine.  Employment issues often play out in interesting ways when you hire talent at that level.

But what about a smaller Texas Mom and Pop restaurant just opening up? Lots of legal issues to address but at a different scale. These Texas restaurant clients need to have their handheld and guided through the entire process from finding a location, buy or leasing, negotiating the lease agreement, understanding of options and how they lead to success or failure, hiring and firing staff, and – the big one – liquor licensing with the TABC – the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission.  At the Moster Law Firm, we handle all of these areas and more in excruciating detail.  The requirements of the TABC can be particularly unnerving and we are prepared to go over every aspect of the process from first application to inspection to approval.

Representing Japanese Restaurants is always a challenge given the shortage of Sushi Chefs.  I have noticed this phenomenon in all Texas cities and particularly in Austin, Dallas, and Houston, and it raises a big problem for management given the often difficult demands made by Sushi Chefs.  Of course, these restaurants run into the same Texas legal issues but employment problems tend to be rife.

Representing a Texas franchise restaurant has unique challenges as the client must comply with the franchise agreement and protect the branding which is typically nationwide and well known.  This is definitely a niche area where the Moster Law Firm can assist at all levels from starting up the required Texas restaurant entity required in the franchise agreement, reporting, and opportunities for growth and financial success.  The client must understand its obligations to the franchise or can hit the sidewalk fast.

One of my favorite areas is working with Texas clients on building their own Texas restaurant brand whether it is Buffalo Wings (did that!), Asian (many times), Barbecue (of course!), and Steakhouses (you bet).  The client needs advice on how to select its Texas restaurant name and brand which complies with intellectual property laws.  Getting a trademark is critical as the brand needs to be protected and the restaurant will likely grow.

I often say that the only biz more difficult to run than a law firm is a restaurant.  Get the advice you need from the Moster Law Firm and please stay away from kids and one-horse shops.

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