Your Trusted Restaurant and Hospitality Attorney

Based in Dallas, TX, Sul Lee Law Firm, PLLC is a reputable business law firm with extensive experience in providing comprehensive legal services to clients in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Our dedicated team of attorneys specialize in various practice areas, including business law, intellectual property (IP), commercial litigation, and employment law. With a focus on entity formation, governance and management, franchise law, and labor and employment matters, we are committed to supporting and protecting your restaurant or hospitality business.

Business Formation, Governance, and Management:

Starting a restaurant or hospitality business requires careful consideration of the appropriate legal structure. Our attorneys provide expert guidance in entity formation, assisting you in selecting the most suitable structure, such as a limited liability company (LLC), corporation, or partnership. We evaluate various factors, such as liability protection, tax implications, ownership structure, and management flexibility, to determine the best entity type for your restaurant.

  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Corporation
  • Partnership
  • Sole Proprietorship

Franchise Law:

At Sul Lee Law Firm, PLLC, we specialize in providing comprehensive legal services to clients in the restaurant and hospitality industry who are interested in franchise opportunities. 

Our experienced team of attorneys is well-versed in franchise law and understands the intricacies of establishing and operating successful franchise businesses. We focus on various aspects of franchise law, including franchise agreements, setting up franchises, and assisting Asia-based or international businesses in branching out their franchises to the United States.

  • Restaurant Franchise Agreement Drafting and Review: Franchise agreements serve as the cornerstone of any successful franchise relationship. Our attorneys have extensive experience in drafting and reviewing franchise agreements tailored to the restaurant and hospitality industry. We ensure that the agreement covers essential provisions, including franchise fees, royalty payments, territory rights, intellectual property licensing, operational guidelines, training and support, advertising requirements, and dispute resolution mechanisms. Our goal is to protect your interests while fostering a mutually beneficial relationship between franchisors and franchisees.
  • Tailoring Your Franchise Concept to the U.S. Market: We understand that many Asia-based or international businesses are seeking to expand their franchise operations to the United States. Our attorneys have extensive experience in assisting such businesses, including those in the Korean market, with their U.S. franchise endeavors. We provide guidance on adapting business models to the U.S. market, complying with U.S. franchise laws, structuring franchise agreements to meet local requirements, and navigating cultural nuances. Our goal is to help you successfully establish and grow your franchise presence in the United States.

Labor, Employment, and Non-Subscription Law

Managing labor and employment issues in the restaurant and hospitality industry can be challenging. Our attorneys assist in matters related to labor and employment law, including wage and hour compliance, non-subscription claims, tip pooling claims, and overtime wage issues. We provide guidance on employee classification, develop comprehensive employment policies and handbooks, and help resolve employment disputes to protect your business’s reputation and ensure compliance with applicable laws.

Common Challenges in the Restaurant and Hospitality Industry:

  • Tipped Employees and Tip Pooling Claims

Properly implementing and managing tip pooling practices is essential. We conduct a thorough analysis of the facts, relevant laws, and any contractual agreements to develop effective legal strategies. If litigation becomes necessary, we are prepared to advocate for your rights in court. Our attorneys have in-depth knowledge of the specific laws governing tip pooling, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Texas state labor laws.

  • Overtime/Wage Issue Claims 

The restaurant and hospitality industry often utilize a tip credit system, allowing employers to pay tipped employees a lower minimum wage. However, compliance with tip credit requirements and ensuring employees’ wages meet the minimum wage threshold can be complex and require careful calculation and documentation. Failure to maintain proper records of hours worked, wages paid, and tip allocations can make it challenging to defend against wage claims.

  • Misclassification of Employees

Accurately classifying employees as either exempt or non-exempt from overtime pay is crucial. Misclassifying employees as exempt, such as categorizing them as managers or supervisors, when they do not meet the legal criteria, can lead to wage and hour claims.

Partnership Agreements and Partnership Dispute Resolution:

Partnership disputes can arise in any business, including the restaurant and hospitality industry. We work diligently to protect your interests and find practical solutions that preserve the relationships necessary for your business’s success.

  • Partnership Agreements: A well-drafted partnership agreement is crucial for setting clear expectations and avoiding future disputes. Our attorneys work closely with you to create partnership agreements that address key aspects of your restaurant business, including roles and responsibilities, decision-making authority, profit sharing, capital contributions, and dispute resolution mechanisms. By establishing a solid foundation through a comprehensive partnership agreement, you can minimize the risk of misunderstandings and disagreements.
  • Clearly Define Roles and Responsibilities: Clearly defining each partner’s roles and responsibilities within the restaurant business is essential. Our attorneys help you outline the specific duties and obligations of each partner, ensuring there is no ambiguity about who is responsible for various aspects of the business. This clarity reduces the likelihood of overlapping responsibilities or misunderstandings that could lead to conflicts.
  • Mediation and Alternative Partnership Dispute Resolution: In the event that conflicts do arise, it’s important to have mechanisms in place to resolve disputes amicably. Our attorneys can include mediation and alternative dispute resolution provisions in your partnership agreement, providing a framework for resolving conflicts without resorting to litigation. 

IP Registration

Protecting your restaurant or hospitality business’s intellectual property is essential for maintaining a competitive edge. Sul Lee PLLC attorneys assist in IP registration, including trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. We ensure that your unique brand elements, recipes, menus, and other creative works are properly protected, providing you with exclusive rights and the ability to enforce those rights against infringers.

Trademark Registration

We assist in conducting comprehensive trademark searches to ensure your chosen marks are available for registration. We handle the entire trademark application process, preparing and filing applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and providing ongoing support throughout the registration process.

Copyright Registration

We guide you through the copyright registration process, ensuring your creative works are properly protected. We prepare and file copyright applications with the U.S. Copyright Office, assisting with the documentation and submission of the required materials.

Trade Secret Protection

We help you establish protocols and confidentiality agreements to protect trade secrets within your business. Our attorneys provide guidance on best practices for safeguarding trade secrets, ensuring employees and contractors understand their responsibilities regarding confidential information.

Patent Evaluation and Protection

For innovative inventions or technologies, our attorneys can evaluate patentability and guide you through the patent application process. We work closely with patent agents or patent attorneys to prepare and file patent applications, maximizing the chances of obtaining robust patent protection.

Common IP Claims in the Restaurant and Hospitality Industry:

Trademark Infringement

Restaurant businesses often rely on distinctive names, logos, and slogans to build brand recognition. Failure to register trademarks can leave your business vulnerable to infringement claims, as competitors may use similar marks that cause consumer confusion.

Copyright Infringement

Original creative works, such as menu designs, promotional materials, and website content, are subject to copyright protection. Unregistered copyrights make it challenging to enforce your rights and may lead to disputes over unauthorized use of your creative materials.

Trade Secret Misappropriation

Recipes, formulas, and proprietary processes are valuable trade secrets in the restaurant industry. Failure to protect trade secrets through proper confidentiality agreements and security measures can result in misappropriation claims, jeopardizing your competitive edge.

Patent Infringement

Innovative inventions or technologies, such as unique cooking methods or kitchen equipment, may be eligible for patent protection. Without proper patent registration, competitors could potentially copy your inventions, leading to disputes over infringement.

Real Estate Transactions for the Restaurant and Hospitality Industry

At Sul Lee Law Firm, PLLC, we understand the critical role that real estate plays in the success of your restaurant or hospitality business. Our experienced attorneys specialize in real estate transactions within the industry and offer comprehensive legal services tailored to meet your specific needs. Whether you require lease review, assistance with landlord-tenant issues, or guidance on lease termination, we are here to provide expert legal guidance every step of the way.

  • Lease Review and Negotiation:

Reviewing and negotiating lease agreements is a crucial aspect of securing the right space for your restaurant or hospitality business. Our attorneys have extensive experience in lease review, ensuring that your interests are protected and that the terms and conditions align with your business goals. We carefully analyze lease provisions, including rent structure, maintenance responsibilities, renewal options, and any unique requirements specific to the industry.

Resolving landlord-tenant issues is essential for maintaining a positive and mutually beneficial relationship. Our attorneys have a deep understanding of the complexities involved in these matters and provide skilled representation for both landlords and tenants. We assist in addressing disputes related to lease violations, property maintenance, lease renewals, and other issues that may arise during the course of your tenancy.

  • Lease Termination:

Should the need arise to terminate a lease agreement, our attorneys provide guidance and representation throughout the process. We assist in evaluating termination options, negotiating exit terms, and ensuring compliance with legal requirements. Our goal is to protect your rights and interests while minimizing any potential legal or financial implications.

Your Trusted Legal Partner in Restaurant and Hospitality Matters

At Sul Lee Law Firm, PLLC, we understand the intricate legal landscape of the restaurant and hospitality industry. Our attorneys have a deep understanding of the unique challenges you face and are dedicated to providing tailored legal solutions that align with your business goals. With our expertise in entity formation, franchise law, labor and employment matters, partnership disputes, and IP registration, we are well-equipped to support and protect your restaurant or hospitality business.

Talk to Dallas Restaurant and Hospitality Lawyer!

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discover how our restaurant and hospitality attorneys can provide the comprehensive legal support you need. We are committed to helping you navigate legal complexities, mitigate risks, and achieve long-term success in the dynamic and competitive restaurant and hospitality industry.