What constitutes a restaurant?

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robengle
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2011/07/19 13:15:16 (permalink)

What constitutes a restaurant?

A good friend of mine is an excellent cook. She specializes in traditional mexican food. A few years ago the word got out on how great her food is and friends of friends starting offering to pay her for meals.

She has no interest in running a traditional restaurant or catering business. What she does enjoy is having a small group of people over to her lovely home and preparing exclusive meals for them. There is no menu to order from. She serves whatever she decides to make that evening. She charges a flat fee per diner and never servers more than 6 people at once (that's how many her dining room table holds). She does this once per night, a couple of times per week.

She just called me to ask if what she is doing is legal (my uncle owns a burger joint, so she figured I'd know).

Is she breaking any laws by essentially providing food service without a license? Or is this more akin to renting out your apartment when you're out of town...no license required?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.

Rob
post edited by robengle - 2011/07/19 13:17:01
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    Chicnscoop
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    Re:What constitutes a restaurant? 2011/07/19 16:10:56 (permalink)
    If they are paying her for food being cooked in a residential kitchen - yes, she is breaking the law.
    #2
    pnwchef
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    Re:What constitutes a restaurant? 2011/07/19 16:17:32 (permalink)
    YES SHE IS BREAKING THE LAW............Tell her to keep up the good work and reserve me a table for 2 next Thursday.............pnwc
    #3
    Parrot Cage
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    Re:What constitutes a restaurant? 2011/07/19 20:04:59 (permalink)
    It's called a dinner club or underground restaurant. It is becoming more and more common nowdays. Do a search and you'll find many examples and quite a bit of information.
    #4
    Foodbme
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    Re:What constitutes a restaurant? 2011/07/20 04:16:14 (permalink)
    Interesting Topic!
    See Item # 13 in this report and yes, she's breaking the law, especially if she's not reporting income and not paying both sales tax and personal income tax. By all means, don't invite an IRS Agent to dinner!!
    http://www.baumwhiteman.com/trends2009.pdf
    post edited by Foodbme - 2011/07/20 04:19:08
    #5
    The Travelin Man
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    Re:What constitutes a restaurant? 2011/07/20 09:17:54 (permalink)
    Yes, it is against the law.  She is operating a food service business without a license or health inspection.  The more popular her endeavor becomes, the less likely she will be able to stay under the radar. 
     
    I am currently writing of my experience with one of these types of places from last summer and will post when finished.
    #6
    bartl
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    Re:What constitutes a restaurant? 2011/07/20 10:56:14 (permalink)
    From the point of view of local law enforcement, I believe that it will be treated like a poker game; if it's just people she knows and their guests, there should be no problem.
     
    On the other hand, there's the liability issue; if someone gets sick with food poisoning, she can be in all kinds of trouble, EVEN IF IT ISN'T HER FOOD.
     
    Bart
    #7
    The Travelin Man
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    Re:What constitutes a restaurant? 2011/07/20 11:14:46 (permalink)
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    MellowRoast
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    Re:What constitutes a restaurant? 2011/07/20 12:58:00 (permalink)
    It probably is a health department violation, zoning violation, etc.  Many famous businesses started out much the same way, but if the authorities can shut down a lemonade stand, there's probably nothing stopping them from shutting down such activity in a private home. 
     
    http://www.npr.org/2011/07/19/138461324/americas-attack-on-lemonade-stands?ps=cprs
    post edited by MellowRoast - 2011/07/20 13:44:08
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    lornaschinske
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    Re:What constitutes a restaurant? 2011/07/20 16:53:15 (permalink)
    As long as she is paying the same fees as I am, paying i  the same sales tax as I am, following the same rules as I am... then I don't care. If she isn't Then I strongly object to what she is doing. I reported a woman selling food out of her car a couple of weeks ago. Got the tag # and make of car. Jerry (our HD guy) says he has spoken to her several times about that. He claims this time she will get a fine and go to court. I really don't care... just refund my $225 I paid for the permit last year, all the sales taxes we've paid in and I also won't bother renewing my permit.  Sounds fair to me.
    #10
    Diamond Dogs
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    Re:What constitutes a restaurant? 2011/07/22 00:39:53 (permalink)
    Land of liberty.  The most free nation on earth.
     
    Not when someone has to worry about being prosecuted for having some friends over and getting paid to cook dinner for them in her own home, plus worry about the brown shirts next door ready to turn her in.
     
     
    What she does in the privacy of her home is NONE OF OUR BUSINESS if it's not causing a traffic hazard, she's not open to the general public (putting signs on her front lawn), and there are no complaints from the guests.  PERIOD.
     
     
    post edited by Diamond Dogs - 2011/07/22 00:41:08
    #11
    Parrot Cage
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    Re:What constitutes a restaurant? 2011/07/22 11:41:17 (permalink)
    I agree with DD. If I have some friends over for dinner and they choose to reimburse me for the cost of the ingredients, what is wrong with that??
    #12
    joerogo
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    Re:What constitutes a restaurant? 2011/07/22 12:13:29 (permalink)
    All Fun and Games until Somebody Loses an Eye!  
    Do you think anybody would mind if I invited some friend over to my house a couple two tree times a week, and sold them adult beverages at my bar?  How about if I let them play my Joker Poker Machine(which pays off)?  It's a residential neighborhood, but what the hell, I'm a resident!
     
    #13
    bartl
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    Re:What constitutes a restaurant? 2011/07/22 17:33:43 (permalink)
    Once again, there is a BIG difference if she just has people she knows, and possibly immediate guests of people she knows. Once someone she serves dinner to someone she doesn't know not accompanied by someone she does, she has stepped over a line. If she allows someone who she only knows from being a previous guest to come with their own guest, she is standing on the line.
     
    If she allows people she doesn't know directly attend (with the possible exception of accompanying someone she does know directly), she is opening herself up for a world of trouble; her homeowner's insurance will not cover any lawsuit against her, no matter how frivolous.
     
    Bart
    #14
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