Restaurant and Hospitality

Our Restaurant and Hospitality Group is comprised of lawyers who are experienced in representation of restaurants, caterers, hotel owners and operators, timeshare operators and others in the food services, accommodation and related industries. We advise on a full range of legal issues, including business transactions of every description, disputes ranging from slip-and-fall cases to complex business controversies, and regulatory matters involving local, state and federal agencies.

We are a full service firm, experienced in providing legal counsel on the wide range of legal issues that arise in our clients' daily operations, including with:

  • Franchising, for both franchisors and franchisees 
  • Labor and employment, including wage payment and employee entitlement
  • Real estate, including leasing, land use, zoning and environmental

In addition, we have the bench strength to advise clients when confronted with some of the most significant challenges they will ever face, such as:

  • Major mergers and acquisitions
  • Union organizing activity
  • Product liability claims
  • Class actions 

The many additional matters on which we routinely advise Restaurant and Hospitality clients include: 

  • Representation of individual hospitality operators in general corporate and litigation matters
  • Representing clients who are franchising their businesses and clients who are purchasing franchised businesses
  • Representation of one of the world's largest timeshare companies in a complex and successful bankruptcy reorganization
  • Long-term representation of a national association that includes dinner cruise operators
  • Real estate lease negotiations and workouts for restaurant operators
  • Liquor license acquisitions and transfers
  • Trademark selection and protection for several restaurant chains, including impingement actions
  • Representing real estate owners in the development, purchase and sale of hotel properties
  • Successful defenses of restaurants and hotels in employment, assault and negligence cases
  • Active involvement in the convention and visitors' association of Baltimore

As a firm, we are active in both the Restaurant Association of Maryland and the International Franchise Association.

We look forward to answering any questions you may have.  For further information, please contact Co-Chairs David Cahn and Steve Bers.

David L. Cahn
As an advocate, negotiator and counselor, Mr. Cahn has represented franchisors and franchisees since 1997.  Prior to joining Whiteford Taylor & Preston in 2011, he founded and ran Franchise & Business Law Group as an independent Baltimore law firm from 2004 through 2010.  His professional activities include Board Membership on the Maryland State Bar Association's Business Law Section, and he is the former Chair of the Association's Franchise Law Committee. He has written numerous articles for area papers and has given seminars for attorneys and entrepreneurs, including, “Understanding and Negotiating A Franchise Agreement,” which he has co-taught for the Maryland, District of Columbia and Virginia bar associations.

Steve E. Bers
Mr. Bers is counsel to "Visit Baltimore" (Baltimore's Convention, Hotel and Visitor Association), and General Counsel to the National Passenger Vessel Association, representing the dinner, overnight and excursion industry. He has extensive background in representing clients in the hospitality industry on issues of employee compensation, occupancy taxes, union-free strategies and ADA accommodation, among many others. As chair of the Firm's employment practice, Mr. Bers has significant experience in labor and employment matters prevalent in the hospitality industry.

New Federal Law Requires Nutrition Disclosure by Restaurants

The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Act"), signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, includes a provision that creates a single national nutrition disclosure standard for certain restaurants. The nutrition disclosure provision, which is found in Section 4205 of the Act, amends the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by requiring chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and vending machines owned by companies that operate 20 or more machines to provide specific nutrition labeling information.