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rise to every hospitality challenge

making your restaurant prosper

Find an Attorney
Sharon Nelson Craig
Michael J. Goecke
Patricia A. Harris
Lawrence G. Lerman
Vernon S. Lynch III
Ann Marie Mehlert
Julie A. Reddig
Stacy Plotkin Silber
7600 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 700
Bethesda, MD 20814
T 301-986-1300

Whether you’re currently operating a restaurant, planning new construction or a grand opening, buying a franchise, securing financing, evaluating or remodeling a pad site location, or investing in a new venture, Lerch Early’s team of attorneys guides you through the process and minimizes the high risk restaurateurs face in the competitive Washington, DC region hospitality industry.

Lerch Early serves as your outside general counsel--drafting corporate documents, facilitating debt or equity financing, or negotiating the successful purchase or sale of a location, as well as advising on the day-to-day issues of operating a restaurant. Our business services for restaurants include entity formation (LLCs, corporations and partnerships), partner agreements, business documents, contract review, loan negotiation and documentation, borrower’s counsel, tax services, buying and selling restaurants, franchise agreements, food and beverage agreements, and risk management and dispute resolution.

Getting and maintaining a liquor license is essential to most restaurants. Lerch Early attorneys work closely with local and state agencies in Maryland, with the Alcohol Beverage Control and Advisory Neighborhood Commissions in the District of Columbia, and with the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control.

With a host of hourly workers, restaurateurs face a range of employment and labor issues. Our employment attorneys represent management in hiring, directing, compensating, disciplining, and, when needed, terminating restaurant employees. We help restaurants with both compliance and claims. These include wage hour issues, discrimination, harassment, overtime, tip credit issues, wrongful discharge, and labor issues, including unionization and collective bargaining.

Restaurant real estate is a major key to the profitability of a restaurant. Whether you’re a national restaurant chain or a local restaurateur, Lerch Early attorneys help you achieve the most from your real estate from zoning approvals to build out, borrowing, and common ongoing lease issues. Our services include restaurant leasing negotiation, documentation, and review (both retail and ground), construction contracts, real estate financing, buying and selling property, zoning evaluation, due diligence and approvals, remodeling approvals and easements, and pad site approvals.

We vigorously represent restaurants in all types of litigation, including defending against employment claims, prosecuting and defending landlord-tenant disputes, and resolving contract issues through mediation and in the courts.

  • Business: Set up operating agreement, reviewed Franchise Disclosure Document, and negotiated lease for franchisee.
  • Business: Represented franchisee in financing tenant improvements related to reimaging obligations imposed by the franchisor every 7 years.
  • Business: Successfully negotiated with Neighborhood Advisory Commission 2B and protesting neighborhood residents to allow for later serving hours and exterior sidewalk café hours for a popular Italian restaurant in the 14th Street corridor.
  • Business: Represented tenants in the review and negotiation of construction loans ranging from $500K to $1M.
  • Liquor: Obtained the consent of the District of Columbia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board for the transfer of a contested license in the U street corridor from an evicted tenant restaurant to the landlord thereby enabling its new restaurant tenant to obtain an alcohol license as quickly as possible.
  • Employment: Represented restaurant owner in defense of wage and hour investigation by the D.C. Department of Employment Services for alleged overtime violations of back of house staff.
  • Employment: Represented a hotel in wage and hour investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor regarding banquet server compensation.
  • Employment: Resolved sexual harassment claim against restaurant owner at minimal expense.
  • Real Estate: Represented restaurants in leasing of restaurant premises ranging from a 900 sf fast food carryout franchise to a 6,000 sf white tablecloth restaurant.
  • Real Estate: Represented restaurant group owner in purchase and financing of property for new restaurant site.
  • Real Estate: Obtained the consent of the District of Columbia’s Public Space Committee and Historical Preservation Office for an enclosed sidewalk café permit for a premier delicatessen and gourmet market in one of the city’s historic neighborhoods.
  • Land Use: Secured Planning Board approvals for new fast food restaurants in high barrier to entry areas. Successfully engaged in extensive community outreach and work with Planning Department staff.
  • Litigation: Represented landlord (restaurant) against tenant (nightclub in downtown DC) and obtained six-figure judgment for back rent.
  • Litigation: Represented minority member of an LLC that owned a restaurant and bar on Capitol Hill, and successfully mediated and negotiated settlement agreement giving client control of the company.
  • Litigation: Prevailed after a three-day bench trial in a contract and construction dispute between a landlord and tenant involving construction build-out delays on a popular bar in Dupont Circle. Obtained and enforced judgment for $165K and also recovered $85K in attorney’ fees.
  • Litigation: Represented landlord (restaurant) against tenant (pizza store) and evicted tenant for non-payment of rent.
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