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Holiday Parties: Permits & Legal Help in NYC

A posh party in celebration of New York Fashion Week quickly went awry when police shut it down and arrested the event director over a lack of permitting.

Our New York City restaurant lawyers understand the event turned out stars including Hilary Rhoda and David Schwimmer, and was held at Don Hill’s.

With all of the upcoming holiday bashes planned over the course of the next month, it’s important for restaurants, event organizers and promoters to make sure the party will be legally compliant. Nothing kills a buzz – or a reputation – faster than a party that’s shut down by police for something that could have been avoided. Not only does it eat in to potential revenues for that night, but it makes your business appear unprofessional, at best, and shady at worst.

While an experienced New York restaurant law firm can often help you negotiate lesser sanctions after such an incident, it’s better to plan ahead to make sure you can avoid these issues from the outset.

In this case, part of the problem was that the organizers reportedly did not have the proper day-of catering permit issued by the State Liquor Authority. The permit they did have expired at midnight, rather than 4 a.m., which was when the party was supposed to end. But shortly before 2 a.m., the police busted up the party and accused the event organizers of illegal running of a social club.

Organizers maintained they did have the proper paperwork, but police arrested one of them anyway.

Permits for special events should be acquired for any event in which you may be serving alcohol without a beer, wine or liquor license (or auctioning it off for charity), or if you want to stay open all night or if you are a non-restaurant that be serving food for profit or charity.

The permit application requires you to specify things like whether the event has been advertised, whether it will be open to the public, the type of venue and where the event is scheduled to take place.

Once a permit is granted, you agree not to sell or furnish alcohol to anyone under 21 and those under 18 have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. If you’re serving or selling food, it has to be provided by a licensee that holds the minimum requirements under 64-a of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. All night permits are only valid until 8 a.m. the next day, and all such permits need to be prominently displayed.

It sounds fairly straightforward, but one oversight  can result in the cops crashing the festivities.

These considerations are especially important because many restaurants, bars, organizations and companies are hosting bigger holiday parties this year. Many of these celebrations had tapered off significantly in the wake of the recession. Whereas before, it hadn’t been unheard of for a facility to throw $50,000 on a lavish gathering, those parties had been scaled back considerably to about $15,000 a celebration. Now, we’re seeing parties that fall somewhere in the middle.

If you’re investing that kind of money in your event, invest in an experienced business lawyer who can help you make sure it won’t get shut down halfway through.

The Wright Law Firm is a business law firm located in Midtown Manhattan. Call (212) 619-1500 for a confidential consultation.

More Blog Entries:

NYC Building Owners Should Be Accountable for Storm Damage Repairs, Nov. 9, 2012, New York City Restaurant Lawyer Blog

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