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Restaurants/Hospitality

For decades, Thompson & Knight attorneys have represented such restaurant and hospitality industry clients as independent operators; franchisees; franchisors; regional, national, and international chains; industry trade organizations; operating councils; and management companies.

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Overview

For decades, Thompson & Knight attorneys have represented such restaurant and hospitality industry clients as independent operators; franchisees; franchisors; regional, national, and international chains; industry trade organizations; operating councils; and management companies. Several of our clients are nationally known companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange, or NASDAQ, and many more are privately held family businesses that have grown and prospered for generations with our guidance and help.

Our services to restaurant and hospitality clients combine comprehensive general corporate counsel with advice on concerns specific to the industry. We advise on transactional issues involving finance, acquisitions, divestitures, and taxation, including those related to the purchase, sale, and leasing of facilities and real estate. We are extremely knowledgeable on franchising and franchisor relations, disputes, and antitrust issues. Our clients are labor-intensive service operations, and we help them with all aspects of labor and employment, employee benefits, and executive compensation. We advise hospitality companies on marketing, advertising, and signage, and help them protect their trademarks, copyrights, service marks, and other intellectual property.

Our attorneys give highly skilled counsel on regulatory, public policy, and government relations issues. We also offer comprehensive litigation and other dispute resolution services (including negotiation, mediation, and arbitration) that focus on unique industry concerns of premises liability, dram shop liability, and identity theft.

Thompson & Knight has helped develop hundreds of restaurants, resorts, clubs, and mixed-use properties. Our attorneys are skilled at acquiring, developing, selling, zoning, licensing, and leasing r land and developed properties, as we work with real estate developers, landlords, tenants, and state and city governmental agencies. We handle even the most complex project finance, zoning, land use, and environmental concerns, and take care of operational details like negotiation, preparation, and review of leases, licenses, purchase and sale contracts, and sale-leaseback agreements.

Experience

  • Represented a leading European hotel operator in its sale of Red Roof Inn to a consortium for approximately $1.3 billion
  • Represented a commercial real estate investment firm in connection with a construction loan, EB-5 preferred equity investment, and contractors, architect, and development agreements for the construction of the first Virgin Hotel in Texas, located in the Dallas Design District
  • Represented the City of Austin as the developer of an 800-room convention center hotel in downtown Austin, involving multiple condominiums, residential and retail units, public financing and state bond approval, and franchise agreements
  • Handled the purchase of Pinehurst Resort and its eight golf courses in Pinehurst, North Carolina
  • Advised a hospitality company in connection with franchise tax issues, land acquisition, and mechanic’s and materialman’s lien removal regarding a hotel in Austin
  • Represented a publicly traded hotel company with acquisitions in multiple states
  • Assist an international restaurant group maintain trademark regulation of its name, floor plan, furnishings, promotional slogans, and product names in Japan, Canada, Australia, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and several U.S. states
  • Represented a publicly held nationwide owner, operator, and franchisor of barbeque restaurants in negotiating, acquiring, developing, leasing, and securing liquor licenses for two restaurants in Texas
  • Represented a publicly held nationwide owner and operator of entertainment restaurants in connection with leasing 14 locations in strip shopping centers, refurbished urban buildings, and anchor-based shopping centers throughout the State of Texas
  • Represented a publicly held nationwide owner and operator of upscale and mid-priced steak restaurants in acquiring, leasing, and securing liquor licenses for six locations on pad sites and urban office buildings throughout Texas
  • Represented a multi-unit franchise of “deli-style” restaurants in negotiating leases for multiple shopping center (strip and anchor) locations in Texas, Kansas, and Florida
  • Represented a privately held Texas-based owner and operator of multiple restaurant concepts in resolving land and property use issues before a Planning and Zoning Board in order to obtain Special Use Permits
  • Represented a restaurant in acquiring, selling, developing, and leasing (including sale-leasebacks) locations throughout the United States
  • Represented a theme restaurant in fighting a lawsuit alleging sex discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, and public-policy wrongful discharge, securing summary judgment for our client on all remaining claims after the plaintiff withdrew the wrongful discharge claim
  • Represented a restaurant client in fighting a Bexar County, Texas, lawsuit alleging sex discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, and public policy wrongful discharge, securing summary judgment for our client on all remaining claims after the plaintiff withdrew the wrongful discharge claim
  • Represented a NASDAQ-traded, Phoenix-based restaurant chain in preserving its assets when a franchisee operating 60 units in the Southwest declared bankruptcy; claim was for more than $20 million, and we settled the case by canceling subleases and taking control of all but 10 of the franchise sites; prevailed over the franchisee’s lender who, because of bad deal structure and documentation, recovered little of its $80 million unsecured claim
  • Represented a national Southwestern themed restaurant owner and operator in leasing eight locations throughout the country during the last two years
  • Represented the largest creditor and seller of the largest franchise of a branded restaurant chain in negotiating a lawsuit settlement that reduced the $10 million outstanding liability to the landlords of the franchised restaurants by approximately $7 million
  • Represented a pancake restaurant franchisee who operated 24 stores in fighting an immigration-related unfair employment practice charge, securing dismissal of the action with no penalties to our client after considerable negotiation with the Department of Justice enabled us to reduce documentation requirements and compile a new response
  • Represented the owner of 30 pizza stores when its insurer asked us to handle a large personal injury case brought by a former employee, settling an initial $7 million demand for just $12,500 after one year of litigation