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Operating a restaurant involves a lot of moving parts – most controlled by you, but many controlled by laws, regulations, licenses and permits. Alcoholic beverages, food safety, labor practices and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (the healthcare mandate) are significant – and then there is everything else.

Get to know the regulatory agencies that govern such things as sidewalk cafes, signage, noise, fire safety and more. And, get to know about the efforts being made by RAMW on your behalf to improve the regulatory environment.

DC Restaurant Operators: Submit Testimony on Minimum Wage, Tipped Minimum Wage, and Paid Sick Leave by Nov. 11, 2013

November 1, 2013
Reminder: DC restaurant operators still able to submit written statements on minimum wage, tipped minimum wage and paid sick leave exemption. If you were unable to testify at Monday's hearing on the District's minimum wage, tipped minimum wage and paid sick leave policies, we encourage you to submit a written statement that will be made a part of the official record. The official record will remain open until close of business November 11, 2013. Copies of written statements should be submitted to the Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs, Council of the District of...

Washington Gas Rebates Give Virginia Restaurants a Break

October 17, 2013
Every restaurant could use a break. Cook one up for your restaurant in the form of a Washington Gas rebate. The Washington Gas Energy Efficiency Program is offering restaurants in Virginia substantial rebates on select natural gas products. Products include ovens, steam cookers, water heaters, programmable thermostats, infrared heaters and more. These rebates are only available for a limited time. Product installations must be performed by a licensed contractor before April 30, 2014. A full list of eligible products, corresponding rebates and more details are available at WashingtonGasRebates...

DC Proposes Ban on Styrofoam Food Containers

October 10, 2013
Michael Neibauer , Washington Business Journal Mayor Vincent Gray has proposed banning foam food containers in the District, citing their harmful effect on the Anacostia River. The measure is part of a package of bills Gray recently submitted to the D.C. Council as part of his effort to “make the District of Columbia the healthiest, greenest, and most livable city in the United States,” the mayor wrote in a letter to D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. The legislation bans “expanded polystyrene” in food containers, plates, clamshells, hot and cold beverage cups, meat...

ABRA Update: ABC Board Overhauls Alcoholic Beverage Warning Sign

August 28, 2013
August 28, 2013 (Washington, DC) - In a press release distributed this morning, the District's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) unveiled a new alcoholic beverage warning sign that will be posted in approximately 1,800 ABC licensed establishments in the District. Licensees are required to post the new sign in a conspicuous place on the licensed premises by Wednesday, Nov. 27. The new sign allows ABRA to address several warnings and requirements for consuming alcoholic beverages in one posted notice and will also reduce the number of notices an ABC establishment is...Read more

How Do Electricity Costs Impact Your Budget?

October 1, 2013
Business owners can reduce operating costs by evaluating energy expenses. A new report, Best Practices: Electricity Procurement , discusses the major impact that electricity costs have on middle-market operating budgets. View the report for information and best practices regarding how to select the right electricity supplier, what to consider before signing a contract, and which hidden items impact your final electricity bill. You can also benchmark your energy usage and costs, and become better equipped to make smart energy-related decisions. View the report .

Mobile Payments Mean More Sales Opportunities for Your Restaurant

September 23, 2013
Tony Ventre, Heartland Restaurant Solutions Insights For restaurateurs, mobile payment acceptance solutions are giving new meaning to the saying “think outside the box.” By transforming smartphones and tablets into mobile point-of-sale systems and providing the freedom to accept credit/debit/gift card payments from anywhere at any time, mobile payments enable you to take your business beyond your four walls. With the use of mobile payments, many restaurateurs are taking advantage of untapped sales opportunities. Consider utilizing mobile technology to facilitate payments for:...

IRS Rule Leads Restaurants to Rethink Automatic Tips

September 4, 2013
Julie Jargon, Wall Street Journal Gratuities Added for Larger Groups Will Be Taxed as Service Charges An updated tax rule is causing restaurants to rethink the practice of adding automatic tips to the tabs of large parties. Starting in January, the Internal Revenue Service will begin classifying those automatic gratuities as service charges—which it treats as regular wages, subject to payroll tax withholding—instead of tips, which restaurants leave up to the employees to report as income. The change would mean more paperwork and added costs for the restaurants—and a...

Exemptions Proposed to Montgomery County's Bag Tax

June 30, 2013
Michelle Basch, WTOP Nearly a year and a half after Montgomery County's 5-cent bag tax took effect, a public hearing was held Tuesday night to consider possible tweaks. A bill being considered by the Montgomery County Council would scale back the tax so it only applies to food stores. A food store would be defined as any retail store where food makes up more than 2 percent of gross sales by dollar value. The bill would make takeout food bags exempt from the tax. Read more:

When Is a Tip Just a Tip?

June 3, 2013
When Is a Tip Just a Tip? Tipping in the hospitality industry is considered the normal course of business. However, the IRS considers tipping, in certain situations, to be taxed differently through payroll. Employers in this industry now need to be diligent in their recordkeeping. Here are some quick tips on how to differentiate employees’ tip income: · All reported cash tips totaling $20 or more in a calendar month are taxable income. · When a tip is a voluntary from a customer patronizing your business and the amount is determined by the customer, it is truly considered...

How to Respond to a Negative Review

October 1, 2013
Jason Dangle, Fishbowl SM3 Team It happens to every restaurant at some point. A bad day has led to a displeased guest. In the old days, you might have to deal with negative word of mouth. But, with the rise of websites like Yelp, a bad review can have a boomerang effect, impacting the bottom line of a restaurant substantially over time. Fishbowl’s SM3 team works with restaurants every day to alleviate the damage a bad review can create. Over time, they’ve developed a system of best practices to give you the confidence to deal with harsh criticism. We sat down with SM3 veteran...