What Are the Laws and Regulations for Working in a New York Restaurant?

Opening a restaurant in New York requires special legal considerations that are specific to both the restaurant industry and the state. These include selecting the right business entity, obtaining the necessary state and local licenses and permits, complying with state and local health and safety regulations, obtaining adequate insurance, reviewing franchise issues, and dealing with employees. In New York, alcoholic beverage licenses are handled by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division of the New York State Alcoholic Beverage Authority. The New York Department of Health requires that all food service establishments obtain and show a permit from the appropriate local health authority.

This department's regulations for food service establishments contain several dozen sections. The New York Labor Law (NYLL) also provides exemptions from restaurant regulations for certain executive or administrative employees. The rights of restaurant workers in New York are even broader than those in other states, as they are covered by numerous laws specific to the state. The NYLL and other state labor laws protect the rights of restaurant workers who receive tips or don't tip. In addition to the tip notification requirements of the FLSA, New York State law requires employers to inform their tipped employees in writing (orally is not enough) that they must pay an additional fee if their tips do not meet the basic minimum wage.

The Office of Community Environmental Health and Food Protection maintains Part 14 of the New York State Health Code, which contains regulations for several food service establishments in New York State. The New York State Restaurant Association has prepared a useful list of signs and permits required for restaurants, including where each one should be displayed. The Online Assistance and Licensing (OPAL) system allows users to answer a series of questions about their restaurant's details, such as the number of employees and whether they will sell beer or other types of alcohol, and then provides them with information about the necessary permits and licenses. Furthermore, the New York State Labor Law has established special rules that apply only to restaurants in the state.

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