OCTOBER 20, 2020 | 1:01PM | LINK TO ARTICLE
This past Friday, a judge’s ruling in a lawsuit filed by a Miami Gardens strip club essentially struck down Miami-Dade County’s COVID-19 curfew — and, in the process, allowed area restaurants and bars to remain open past midnight.
Three days later, an appeals court judge slammed on the brakes, at least for the time being.
On Friday, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Beatrice Butchko issued an injunction allowing Tootsie’s Cabaret to conduct business until its regular 6 a.m. closing time. Butchko ruled that the curfew conflicts with Phase Three of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ statewide reopening plan prohibiting municipalities from restricting the reopening of businesses and requiring that businesses “must be allowed to operate at least at 50 percent capacity, regardless of local rule.”
By Katherine Kallergis, TRD Reporter | October 13, 2020
South Florida retailers could be forgiven if they needed a minute to process the news that Gov. Ron DeSantis had moved the state into its third and final phase of reopening.
After months of mandated closures amid a stop-start economy, the late September announcement meant that in Miami-Dade County, bars and nightclubs could reopen for indoor activity. While it allowed for up to 100 percent capacity, the declaration still came with regional restrictions. It also came just two weeks after the county mayor, Carlos Gimenez, said he didn’t expect to reopen bars and nightclubs until a vaccine was available.
Miami, FL – October 1, 2020 – For Immediate Release
In an effort to help Raise Our Spirits while sheltering-in-place, Spiritus Law created this contest to help keep our creativity flowing and give back to the those within our industry who need it most. We invite bartenders to submit their creative cocktail recipes virtually and offer them a chance to win $350 in prize money paid instantly!
The contest will begin on Monday, October 5, 2020 and will end on October 23, 2020 at 11:59 PM.
Southwest Florida Bars Prepare to Reopen Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, But Will People Return?
By Sarajane Sullivan | Naples Daily News | LINK TO ARTICLE
Published at 5:01 PM on Friday, September 11, 2020
Bars and breweries in Southwest Florida are preparing to reopen Monday and hope customers return.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation on Thursday night rescinded the amended executive order that had ordered all bars to shut down as of June 26. The agency said bars and breweries may reopen at 50% capacity.
Bar owners whose businesses were shut down in the fight against COVID-19 are now offering food so they can reopen — but they’re going about it in starkly different ways.
Some bars in the state say they’re doing as little as serving customers food out of a Crock-Pot, while others say they’re going all out, spending thousands of dollars to buy sinks, stoves and refrigerators.
To-Go Drinks an Elixir for Public, a Lifeline for Business
By DEE-ANN DURBIN | LINK TO ARTICLE
DETROIT (AP) — The coronavirus is shaking up America’s liquor laws.
At least 33 states and the District of Columbia are temporarily allowing cocktails to-go during the pandemic. Only two — Florida and Mississippi — allowed them on a limited basis before coronavirus struck, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.
Struggling restaurants say it’s a lifeline, letting them rehire bartenders, pay rent and reestablish relationships with customers. But others want states to slow down, saying the decades-old laws help ensure public safety.Continue reading
Miami – August 20, 2020 – Spiritus Law announced that their Founding Partners, Marbet Lewis and Robert Lewis, have been included in the 27th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Robert has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America since 2015. This is Marbet’s second year being recognized and is among a limited selection of attorneys from Florida in this category. Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence.
Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-192 earlier this week. This Order amends previous employee screening requirements for restaurant employees. Employees who have previously tested positive no longer need to receive two negative tests before they can return to work. Employers are still required to implement screening protocols pursuant to CDC guidance. Delays in receiving test results in Florida were causing significant time gaps in clearance for returning to work which may have influenced this Order. The Order also removes the requirement that employees who have traveled through an airport in the last 14 days be prohibited from working in a restaurant.
About Spiritus Law:
Spiritus Law is an entrepreneurial law firm focused on business regulatory licensing, trade practice compliance and business conflict resolution for highly regulated industries dealing in alcohol production and distribution, hospitality services, commercial development and international business transactions. The Firm is founded on traditional principles of client counseling and teamwork, with a cutting-edge twist on regulatory innovation and modern problem-solving. Spiritus Law combines a unique blend of professionals, including attorneys, government consultants, licensing assistants and paralegals to assist its diverse clients. We leverage our unparalleled experience working with government agencies and judicial courts on the federal, state and local levels to develop compliance business operation strategies and resolve business conflicts and disputes.
Primary service areas include Alcohol Licensing & Regulatory Compliance, Alcohol Production & Distribution Transactions, and Food & Hospitality Industry Compliance. The Alcohol Industry Group focuses on providing complete food and alcohol licensing and regulatory services in the development of licensing structures and business operational guidelines for the manufacturing, importation, purchase and retail sale and service of alcoholic beverages.
Ex-ATF Division Chief Joins South Florida’s Spiritus Law as Regulatory Consultant
A former chief at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives joins Spiritus Law in Coral Gables as a federal regulatory consultant.
By Karli Barnett | July 8, 2020 at 11:10 pm | LINK TO ARTICLE & INTERVIEW
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade restaurant owners are preparing to close to indoor dining starting Thursday.
At KYU in Wynwood, barricades outside the front of the restaurant enclose a row of nine metal tables, each with four seats. Café lights and greenery add some aesthetic, while giant fans and a tent keep things as cool as possible.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez orders restaurants to suspend dining room service again, potentially dealing them a bigger blow than if they stayed closed all along.
By Lidia Dinkova | July 07, 2020 at 01:04 PM | LINK TO ARTICLE
Miami-Dade County restaurants were dealt a second — and potentially bigger — blow when the mayor ordered a halt to dining room operations in light of skyrocketing COVID-19 infections.
BY DOUGLAS HANKS, SAMANTHA GROSS, AND CARLOS FRÍAS
JULY 06, 2020 11:52 AM , UPDATED JULY 06, 2020 10:20 PM
Miami-Dade County restaurants must close dining rooms and gyms must shut down again this week under a planned emergency order Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced Monday as he continues to retreat from a May reopening plan that’s been unable to prevent a surge in new COVID cases.
“We want to ensure that our hospitals continue to have the staffing necessary to save lives,” Gimenez said in a statement Monday.
July 6, 2020 | LINK TO ARTICLE & VIDEO
Johari Canty | Alex Browning | Andrew Scheinthal
MIAMI (WSVN) – Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced he will be signing an emergency order issuing more closures across the county.
The mayor announced he will be signing an order closing restaurant dining rooms, ballrooms, banquet facilities, party venues, gyms and fitness centers, and short-term rentals.
Restaurants will still be allowed to operate for takeout and delivery services.
Miami – July 6, 2020 – Spiritus Law announced today that Loy A. “Tony” Haynes has joined the firm as a federal regulatory consultant. Haynes previously worked with the Spiritus Law team and will support the firm’s federal regulatory practice as alcohol producers and distributors encounter new regulatory issues resulting from emerging COVID-19 business interruption and required operational changes. Haynes brings vast experience as a governmental consultant advising on licensing and compliance matters relating to alcohol manufacturing, importation and distribution. Haynes is a former chief of the National Revenue Center under the U.S. Treasury’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), now known as the Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (the “TTB”), one of many positions he held during his 32-year tenure with the ATF.
The spike in COVID-19 infections is raising red flags and concerns throughout Florida but more so in southern counties and municipalities like Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Many new restrictions are aimed at controlling and reducing the 4th of July crowds and large celebrations throughout the weekend. Please note that the below is a summarized list of common social distancing requirements, guidelines, and new emergency order highlights, but is not inclusive of all restrictions and requirements. Please be sure to check with your local jurisdiction to confirm the most recent operating requirements and permitted hours of operation and alcohol consumption.
June 26, 2020
by Jim Turner, News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — Recently reopened bars have been ordered to stop serving alcohol for on-site consumption because of a spike in coronavirus cases, particularly among young adults, and non-compliance with social distancing rules.
Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears, whose agency regulates the industry, tweeted the order on Friday morning.
“Effective immediately, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation is suspending on-premises consumption of alcohol at bars statewide,” Beshears tweeted.
At least one Florida bar license was suspended and three restaurants were temporarily shut down as Florida set daily records for COVID-19 cases.
By Hank Tester | June 23, 2020 at 11:16 pm
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The reopening of South Florida seems to bring a new set of challenges each day.
Many restaurant owners in particular find themselves at a crossroads of trying to stay within the rules and trying to stay in business.
“A big concern we are seeing from our clients is that fear. That cost investment in reopening and have to shut down because of the increase number of cases,” said Marbet Lewis, an attorney who represents restaurants.Continue reading
By Matthew Arrojas – Reporter, South Florida Business Journal
June 23, 2020
A citywide crackdown on businesses following safety guidelines resulted in the shutdown of three Miami restaurants on Friday night by police.
As new cases of Covid-19 continue to spike in Florida and across the tri-county region, government officials are ramping up enforcement of precautionary measures to prevent another shutdown.
With these more severe punishments – particularly in Miami-Dade County – it’s important that restaurateurs ensure they are in compliance with the new coronavirus-related guidelines like mask requirements, social distancing mandates and maximum capacity rules, said Marbet Lewis, founding partner of Coral Gables-based Spiritus Law.
Lewis has spent the last three months guiding business owners through the new regulations. She told the Business Journal what some of the more common pitfalls have been for food and beverage businesses, and how they can be avoided.
Social Distancing Violations Result in Restaurant and Hotel Closures! Ongoing Violations Can Result in Liquor License Suspensions…
Florida’s Governor and the varying county mayors have issued a variety of emergency orders and social distancing guidelines throughout the past several months. The hospitality industry is headed toward recovery, but social distancing continues to require operational pivoting and innovative floor-plan reconfigurations. Below are some of the main operational highlights common across Florida that we’d like to point out for your reference. Please note that applicable regulations are in constant flux and changing rapidly. Please confirm the restrictions applicable to your business with your legal counsel or local code enforcement officials as restrictions may differ from the general information provided below.
We’re also providing a sample floor plan reconfiguration we created with the aid of our own Office Services Manager, and previous restaurant owner, Joe Carpintero!
By Suzy Fleming Leonard | Published 6:00 a.m. ET May 25, 2020
The one certainty restaurants have faced during the novel coronavirus pandemic is uncertainty.
As the country comes back online at the speed of a ’90s dial-up modem, restaurant owners are trying to find ways to follow social distancing guidelines, cater to an uneasy clientele, keep guests and staff healthy and turn a profit.
“The entire industry is reinventing itself,” said Marbet Lewis of Spiritus Law Attorneys at Law, a Coral Gables law firm that works with the hospitality industry.
Grab a Drink While Social Distancing? Attorney Talks Marriage of Irreconcilable Concepts
A Coral Gables hospitality attorney who is helping retailers stay afloat during the coronavirus economic crisis says the next step is to reconcile the opposing concepts of social distancing and profits.
By Lidia Dinkova | May 22, 2020 at 10:56 AM
South Florida’s slowly reopening hospitality industry faces the dichotomy of turning a profit amid mandates for venues to remain well-below capacity during the coronavirus pandemic.
Attorney Robert Lewis says it can be done, and he should know.
4 Min Read | By Marbet Lewis
By Ashley Portero
May 13, 2020, 2:38pm EDT
As some businesses prepare to reopen after nearly two months of closures, some owners fear they could face liability lawsuits if they open during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A recent National Federation of Independent Business survey of its members found 70% of small business owners are concerned about liability claims when reopening their businesses.
South Miami Mayor Sally Philips Wants To Make Sure Reopening Isn’t ‘Putting People In Jeopardy’
By Ty Russell |
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida leaders are preparing for a phase one opening, and so are restaurants.
Shannon Allen and her husband, former NBA player Ray Allen, own “Grown” organic fast food restaurant near South Miami.
Today’s dining scene bears little resemblance to what it was two months ago.
Parking lot beer gardens, cocktails to go, drive-through groceries, masked servers and take-and-bake fine dining have become the norm as restaurant owners look for ways to keep money coming in during COVID-19 restrictions.
As a result of diminished on-premise traffic, e-commerce has become a lifeline for restaurants and other hospitality venues that otherwise benefit from direct customer interaction and visual display marketing. Online sales of alcohol continue to rise as restaurants try to survive without dine-in patrons by taking advantage of flexibility in emergency orders that now allow creative new sales options, such as cocktails to go.
Ongoing operational pivoting also requires alcohol retailers and producers alike to make a shift from traditional marketing practices to a more aggressive use of digital campaigns. For the alcohol industry, which is already highly regulated, online marketing presents new challenges since formalized guidance in this area has been slow, and alcohol industry members are unsure of best marketing practices to avoid advertising to minors.
By Marbet Lewis
We heard a very loud collective last call from thousands of alcohol retailers last month including bars, restaurants, movie theaters and hotels throughout the country. Last week, the White House released the nation’s “Guidelines for Opening America Again,” which largely shifted the economic revitalization burden to state governors and local officials to plan and coordinate re-opening efforts. The lack of a national re-opening plan and timeframe leaves many small and large business owners, especially those in the on-premise hospitality industry, in the dark with respect to when their businesses will once again open to the public and how they will be allowed to service their patrons. Unfortunately, then, restaurants and other hospitality operators are left with the frustrating task of planning for an uncertain future with limited tools, rigid regulations, and unknown long-term service requirements.
MIAMI – May 5, 2020 – Marbet Lewis, a Founding Partner of Spiritus Law, will present a live webinar entitled Let’s Get Social! Guidelines and Recommendations for Social Media Alcohol Advertising During the COVID-19 Pandemic. The webinar, hosted by the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, is being held on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 at 12:00 PM EST. Lewis will discuss a variety of compliance and best practice tips for marketing alcohol on social media channels. For more information or to register for the webinar, please click here.Continue reading
By Robert F. Lewis
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cripple the on-premise hospitality industry, including our local bars and restaurants. While restaurants have been allowed to continue providing limited take-out and delivery services, the loss of on-premise traffic is forcing businesses to pivot in a big way. Strict social distancing protocols shoved any business hoping to survive and remain relevant during the pandemic, into instant quick-service mode. The transition is not without cost, though, as an effective shift to quick service requires incorporating new online and digital platform ordering technology and new internal protocols for safe food handling and packaging. As profits lag and the gap between operational costs and sales income widens, businesses may need to consider a re-negotiation of long-term debt commitments, such as leases and liquor licensing finance agreements, aside from re-defining their business platforms.Continue reading
Operators find relief for liquor license payments during the coronavirus pandemic
For many independent restaurant operators that sell alcohol, the time spent during the lockdown has not been a happy hour, especially for those who continue to make payments to maintain their liquor licenses despite a lack of revenues.
In many areas of the country, liquor licenses are bought and sold on an open market and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. These licenses are often purchased with loans that require steep monthly payments.
Miami – April 23, 2020 – Spiritus Law announced that its Founding Partners, Marbet Lewis and Robert Lewis, have once again been ranked by Chambers & Partners USA in the nationwide category of Food & Beverages: Alcohol. Robert has been ranked since 2014. Marbet has been ranked since 2019.
As bar and restaurant owners deal with the fallout of COVID-19—including how government-mandated shutdown orders have impacted their ability to pay their rent and employees—attorney Robert Lewis of Spiritus Law in Miami says there is another threat owners of these businesses need to be aware o: How the lack of cash flow could threaten their ability to hold and maintain a liquor license, which puts the very essence of their business at risk.
We are settling into our remote work spaces and working collaboratively as a team to keep you updated on the latest emergency orders and safety protocols. But, we are looking forward to a return to normal, even if that means a new normal. Let’s look at where we have been, so we know where we are going and how we can plan for re-opening! Take a look at our short summary on re-opening protocols and potential supply chain disruption issues.
The Small Business Administration today released an Interim Final Rule concerning the Paycheck Protection Program. The Interim Rule provides clarification for Borrowers seeking to calculate the loan amounts available, as well as additional guidance regarding Program eligibility. Importantly, the Interim Rule clarifies that Independent Contractors do not count as Employees for purposes of the PPP. Independent Contractors have the ability to apply on their own.
Finally, the Interim Rule provides for an increase in the interest rate on the loan from 50 to 100 basis points, or 1%.
The CARES Act provides $349 billion in immediate funds to the Small Business Administration for the creation of a new Paycheck Protection Loan product within the SBA’s 7(a) Loan Program. These funds will back loans to be made by existing SBA lenders and new lenders through the new Paycheck Protection Loan Program. The new Paycheck Protection Loans will be available to qualifying businesses (businesses with 500 employees or less) whose business operations have been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are all experiencing the extraordinary difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic and spread of COVID-19. Immediate action is required to secure CARES Act stimulus funding and secure business assets. Our team remains 100% dedicated to assisting the hospitality and alcohol industry through these challenging times. We are reaching out to our clients as we recognize your continued need for regulatory guidance and specific assistance in completion of stimulus and other SBA loan applications. Our physical office is closed but we remain fully capable of assisting you through these challenging times as we have through the best of times. As we work our way back to those times, we’re here for you now when you need it most, with flexible and deferred fee options.