Legal Issues


wine office We will be working for wine from here on out (everyone except Hudson or Alex).

We did it, we have been approved to sell beer, wine and liquor for consumption off-premises.  That means no glasses of wine with your lunch and no bottles upstairs.

It does mean that we are having our first wine tasting this Saturday from 2-4 pm!!  We will be trying three wines (not sure which ones yet) and two cheeses!  Very exciting.

A few customers have expressed concern about where the wine will physically fit in the store.  Don’t worry!  The layout of the store is like a puzzle, I will contract and relocate other things to find space for the wine.  The wine is not going to take over the store, we are a deli that will now carry wine.

I also want to mention that at the liquor board meeting two hearings preceeded ours and both were for violations.  DJ and I watched two local stores receive fines and suspensions for selling alcohol to the same underage cadet.  Most importantly, we got a look at the cadet!  He is two months shy of 21, at least 6 feet tall, clean cut andfairly responsisble looking.  But the law is the law and both stores sold him beer, one even LOOKED at his vertical (indicates that he is under 21) license and STILL sold him the beers.  The board was not happy that the cashier who made the mistake is still working at the store.  If you don’t ask if your customer is 21 you can expect a $600 fine and a two week suspension of your license!  You can ask to pick which two weeks to serve your sentence but the board will ultimately punish you when they please.  One of the store managers tried to pick her two weeks.  I thought that was a little bold…

To avoid any confusion and violations of our own three of our employees shuffled off yesterday to a Techniques of Alcohol Management class.  Currently 5 of the 7 employees are TAM certified and at least one will be on premises during operating hours.

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Most restaurants and delis use a  service to provide, launder and deliver their daily linens.  In our case, we need fresh aprons and bar towels each day.  No big deal, I thought, we will rent our linens just like everyone else does.  Beginning in October, I was approached by three competing linen companies, each claiming to offer the best weekly rate and each was willing to beat any competitor’s price.  I thought that all three companies offered pretty much the same product for pretty much the same rate and that it wouldn’t really matter who I chose.  I assumed that the decision was in my favor, I thought that I would benefit from choosing any one of those companies and every week our aprons and towels would arrive neatly folded and fresh.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

First of all, it turns out that the great quotes that I received were calculated over a long term period of three or four years.  This ‘detail’ was not mentioned at any of my initial meetings.  We’re talking about APRONS and TOWELS here.  Our STORE is only leased for three years!  I asked each company about a week to week service and they all told me NO.  They said that the industry standard is a long term contract because essentially we are leasing the materials from them which doesn’t pay off for them until 2 years down the road.  I asked about a lower priced laundry service if I provided my own linens.  They said they would not launder linens that they did not provide, the same policy extended towards the doormats.

At my old store, the Bedford Cheese Shop, we used a weekly linen service that did not require a contract.  Ah, Cascade was the best!  One of my employees told me that her old restaurant has weekly terms with one of the linen companies that refused to offer me anything less than a two year contract!  What’s the deal?!

My last meeting with a linen sales person was the day before we opened.  By that point, I was done shopping around for a linen service, I had made up my mind that all linen services were offering  long term contracts and they were all bad, but I was meeting a salesman one more time because he insisted.  I told him that I had bought my own towels and aprons that day and I was going to wash them myself for a week.  He was clearly aggrivated and nervous.  He threatened me with bullshit, ‘in a week you’ll call me, you’ll be so sick of washing those’, and ‘the towels are all lint, they are a fire hazard for home dryers’.  He had brought in a bundle of aprons that he pushed me to keep as a ‘friendly gesture’ I refused them because I knew that there were strings attached (*ahem, literally).  Also, the aprons smelled like rancid grease.

 

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Sometimes things don’t go as planned.  No, let’s say that when you need things to go smoothly, crazy things happen.  Yesterday I arrived at the store to find Mike Gardner, his crew, and the shopping center maintenance crew all running around under this waterfall that had formed in our storage room.  Everyone was wet along with everything in that room, the floor in the next room and the ceiling in the room below.  It was bad.  Today this first picture makes it seem better than I remember.  My memory includes a trash can full of dirty water and soggy drywall, waiting in the dark for 40 minutes while Ryan from DC Electric dried each breaker on the electric panel, and carrying lots of wet cardboard.  It was not what I wanted to do that morning.  I immediately set to work trying to rescue products from their soggy boxes and, luckily, almost everything was still dry inside.

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The drain pipe from the roof broke at a joint right behind our storage room walls.  What’s terrible is that we knew about the leak on Monday and didn’t fix it.  It formed a bubble of water underneath the paint on the wall near the ceiling . I moved the boxes away from that immediate area but they remained in the same room.  When it started raining on Wednesday night I didn’t think for a second about that bubble on the wall.  That night of heavy rain just blew open the connection between two pieces of pipe and the water began to soak our ceiling.  The water pooled on top of the ceiling long enough to trickle down the outside of the walls before dissolving a hole in the center.  This picture is from outside the storage room.

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 Actually, most of the water drained straight down our back wall into the basement tenant’s space.  I didn’t go down there but I know it must have been a disaster zone.  

We had a pretty bad situation ourselves, the hole from the first picture is just the part that collapsed on its own, the whole ceiling in the storage room was wet.  The panels were removed yesterday and this morning new dry wall panels were installed and patched.  

As of yesterday morning our final building inspection was scheduled for that afternoon making this bump in the road seem like a road block!  In order to receive our certificate of occupancy we were supposed to prove that construction has finished and here we are with a newly installed ceiling, joints barely patched, floorboards that need replacing and a couple other recently patched holes.  

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We had to reschedule the final inspection for this afternoon and WE PASSED!  The Town office was very understanding and they treated the leak and its repairs as an incident separate from our renovation of the space.  Even though the light fixture in the storage room had to be removed leaving just the cables dangling…  it will be repaired on Monday!  We are fit for business!  Actually, I have a lot of work to do before we are really ready to open the doors.  It is all up to me now, no more excuses about the construction!

 

Let’s review some other hiccups from the last couple weeks:

 

both True freezers arrived broken (repaired Monday and today under warranty)

the poinsettias that we bought for decoration stained the marble counters

the other marble counter got scratched

the grease trap was misbehaving and flooded the whole prep room

the slicer didn’t fit on the countertops

the Southern case doesn’t have a real work surface

we didn’t pull enough cables for internet and phone in the right places to make a good network

 

Some good things from the last couple weeks:

 

the hanging lights arrived today (they took ~4 weeks)

the building inspector was understanding about our leak situation

I found a source for parmesan knives

the food arrived ok

the internet will work

the POS system seems easy to understand (I hope I don’t jinx it) 

we will open before Christmas (unless the whole roof comes crashing down on us)

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What a difference a day makes!  So much happened yesterday, Eastern Millwork was here all day with a full crew.  SolidTops marble finishers were also here installing the backsplashes inside the cabinets and the top for the register area.  

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The shelf that surrounds the landing is in place and connects exactly with the cabinets:

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The shelves for underneath the stairs were installed, fitting perfectly into that cubby:

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On this set of cabinets the doors were being fixed to make room for one more run of shelves:

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A tough spot in that cabinet was being worked out:

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This was added:

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We needed to add railings in the stairwell that were at the correct height, the fire marshall insists on this:

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Upstairs, the eat at counter framework was set in place.  I think that SolidTops is due back today (well, I hope) to install the marble that rests on the supports:

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You can see there is a channel for the marble to fit into but it shouldn’t go all the way to the left wall, that needs to be filled in by drywall.  Also, I left a gap between the left wall and the end of the counter top to prevent spills form hitting the wall directly but that decision was based on the assumption that there was a wooden backsplash all the way around the countertop…I need to work this out.

There is work left to do!

dec4-08_big1In preparation for our electric and HVAC inspections this afternoon, we cleaned the store to make it look more complete.  It turned out to be a great idea, the store looks much better overall and areas that aren’t finished are more obvious.  For example, the cabinets on both walls are missing their top panels:

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Luckily, the cabinets don’t have anything to do with electrical wiring or HVAC installation so we passed those inspections without any trouble.  [thanks to Ryan from DC Electric for posing in these pictures and wiring Piazza]

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The grease trap problem is at bay but another saga is unfolding: the never-ending application for a liquor license.  The application contains many requirements and forms from many separate official offices.  It is the mother of all permits.  

Let’s review the APPLICANT’S CHECKLIST:

– a vaild Maryland Driver’s License

– a complete set of fingerprint cards for each applicant (business owner), one for the state of Maryland and one for the FBI, a check for $10 to process each applicant’s 2 fingerprint records

– three copies plus original of completed application and attachments #1 and #2

attachment #1- a form to be completed by the property owner acknowledging the business owners intent to sell alcoholic beverages, must be notarized

attachment #2- signatures from at least 10 people approving our intention to sell alcoholic beverages, each person must own property in and vote in the same District and Precinct as the location of the store  

– certificate for Alcohol Awareness Training

– Health Department Permit

– proof of Compliance from the State Fire Marshall

– certificate from County or Municipalities Office of Planning and Zoning

– complete list of all property owners as defined in 11-9 of the Talbot County Code (properties w/in 1000 ft of the business)

– copy of current Trader/Business License, issued by the state

 

 

This means that an applicant must be in contact with:

– state police department (fingerprinting)

– property owner and a notary (attachment 1)

– ten immediate locals (attachment 2)

– the board of elections (to verify that they are in fact, registered to vote in the district and precinct they say they are)

– the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA) to obtain Techniques of Alcohol Management (TAM) certification

– the Health Department (permit)

– State Fire Marshall (compliance permit)

– Town Office of Planning and Zoning (a certificate confirming that you are not within 1000 feet of a church, a school or a park; no small feat in a town like Easton)

– State Comptroller for a Business License

– Talbot County Office for a Trader’s License 

 

Did I mention the $156.00 fee for advertising you application in the newspaper, the $200.00 application fee and the $2000.00 annual fee?

Biggest current problem: the number one bullet on the checklist is something that I do not have!  I do not have a valid Maryland Driver’s License!  I just moved to Maryland two months ago, I still have my Virginia driver’s license.  To quote Tina Fey, BLURG!!

 

Finally, some good news to share with you all– On Monday morning I went to the Town Office and picked up our Building Permit (and wrote a $687 check for processing, I already paid $200 just for the application…)!! YEAH!!!!! Let the demolition begin! I went into the store today and not only is demolition almost done but the electricians were already getting to work. We may meet our target schedule after all!

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