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What's the ORA all about?
Founded in 1933, the Oklahoma Restaurant Association is recognized as one of the largest and most effective organizations in Oklahoma. The ORA exists for the purpose of helping its 4,500 (and growing!) members through constant monitoring of regulatory and legislative issues, member services including valuable training and money saving products and services, educational and networking events, and the state's largest trade show. As we grow to meet the needs of our members in this changing industry, the ORA will continue to fulfill and maintain the visions of the original founders. We will be the representative voice and protect the interests of Oklahoma restaurateurs.

How do I join the ORA?
ORA membership is open to Restaurant Operators, Service Providers, Non-Commercial entities, Bed and Breakfasts, and Students. Check out all the benefits you'll get, and join our association today! If you need support, simply give us a call at (405) 942-8181 or (800) 375-8181 and we’ll be happy to help.

How are policy decisions made at the ORA?
The ORA takes its role as an industry advocate very seriously. Our Government Affairs and Public Policy team tracks thousands of state bills and local efforts each year to stop harmful legislation and promote laws that will have positive implications for the industry. Before taking action, the ORA talks to members about the issues facing them and ways potential laws could affect operations. The ORA's Board of Directors meets four times a year and sets most of the policy priorities for the organization.

I'd like to open a restaurant. Where do I start?
List of resources for getting started (pdf)

Where can I find a list of Oklahoma's Health Departments?
List of Health Departments (pdf)

What employer workplace posters are mandatory, and where can I find them?
We know that there are several out-of-state companies that approach restaurants about purchasing the state-required Department of Labor posters, often for hundreds of dollars. Don't fall victim to this type of solicitation: the posters are offered for FREE through the ORA (based on availability) and through the Oklahoma Department of Labor's website. There are currently nine updated and required posters that employers must display in their workplace, and they don't cost you a dime! If you need any or all of the posters, please contact the ORA at (405) 942-8181 or (800) 375-8181.

Where can I find information about Oklahoma's restaurant industry?
Oklahoma's restaurant industry page

Where can I find a list of Governmental Agencies?
Oklahoma Governmental Agencies

If an employee collects less than required on a check, may the shortage be taken out of his/her pay?
Yes, as long as the deduction does not bring his/her rate of pay for that pay period below minimum wage, which is currently $7.25/hour.

Am I required under Oklahoma law to purchase workers' compensation insurance coverage?
Yes, with very few exceptions. A person may employ five immediate family members without purchasing coverage. After employment of the sixth person, whether he/she is a family member or not, workers' compensation coverage must be purchased. But here's where it becomes complicated: once workers' compensation coverage is obtained, everyone - including family members who do not own at least 10% of company stock - must be included in the payroll amount used to calculate what premium will be charged.

What is a workers' compensation modifier?
The National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc. is the entity responsible for assigning a modifier to your business each year. It is a reflection of workers' compensation claims activity for three years. Some restaurateurs may notice that their modifier remains stable at 1.0. This is the case for all businesses with a payroll that results in a premium of $5,000 or less. A modifier should be viewed as either a reward or a penalty for claims experienced as compared to business owners operating the same sort of business in your area.

Under federal law, the minimum age for employment is 14, unless you are working for your parents or in an enterprise in which your parents own an equity interest. What does that mean?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, it means that if the parent(s) own at least 20% of the business, the child may work at the business without any age limitations as long as they are employed in occupations other than manufacturing or mining, or occupations declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.

If a recently terminated employee does not return their uniform, what can you do?
If you have a written document stating the value of the uniform and the fact that action will be taken if the uniform is not returned upon termination of their employment, you may deduct its value from their last paycheck. Even then, if the document is not signed and dated by both the restaurant operator and the employee, it is not a valid deduction.

Do employees have to be paid for breaks and mealtimes?
Although the FLSA does not require employers to give employees a rest break or meal period, some employers do so nonetheless. If these rest breaks are brief (a coffee break or similar under 20 minutes long) the time must be counted as hours worked. But if it's a bonafide meal period (30 minutes or more) during the scheduled workday, it's not considered work time under the FLSA and the employer need not pay employees for such breaks. Remember, though, that employees aged 14 to 15 years old must be permitted a half-hour rest period every five hours.

What about pets on patios?
Oklahoma law states the following regarding pets on patios: 

310:257-11-54. Prohibiting animals 
(d) Dogs and cats may be allowed in outdoor dining areas, provided the dog or cat is controlled by the owner or handler of the animal and the following conditions are met:
  1. A separate entrance/exit is present where pets do not enter through the food establishment to reach the outdoors;
  2. No food preparation shall be allowed in the outdoor dining area, including the mixing of drinks and ice;
  3. Customer multi-use or reusable utensils such as plates, silverware, glasses, and bowls shall not be stored, displayed, or pre-set at the outdoor dining area;
  4. Food and water, either served or provided to the animal by the food establishment, shall only be distributed in single-use, disposable containers;
  5. Employees shall be prohibited from having direct contact with the animals;
  6. The outdoor dining area shall be cleanable, durable and constructed of impervious materials;
  7. The outdoor dining areas shall be maintained to remove and eliminate any animal excrement;
  8. In cases where animal excrement or other animal fluids (urine, saliva, vomit) are deposited, an employee shall immediately clean and sanitize the affected areas; and
  9. The outdoor dining area shall not be fully enclosed. Any fully enclosed dining area shall be considered a part of the interior of the facility.
For more guidelines regarding pets, click here.

Pertaining to and reviewed by the ABLE Commission:
Oklahoma Alcohol Laws – Effective October 1, 2018

Q: Is it still lawful to purchase/sell 3.2% ABW beer in Oklahoma after September 30th?

A: SQ792 did not abolish low-point beer, it simply repealed the constitutional provision that distinguished low-point beer from beer that contains more than 3.2% ABW. Effective October 1, 2018, all beer will fall under the jurisdiction of the ABLE Commission. Okla. Const. Art. 28A, §1, 37A O.S. §1-102(B), 37A O.S. §1-103(5).

Q: Beginning October 1, 2018, are on-premises licensees required to collect the 13.5% gross receipts tax on all beer, even if it that beer does not exceed 3.2% ABW?
A: Effective October 1, 2018, all beer is considered taxable as a mixed beverage regardless of its ABW. Unless the Oklahoma Tax Commission determines otherwise, all beer sold after September 30th are considered mixed beverages for purposes of gross receipts tax collection. 37A O.S. §5-105(B)(1).

Q: What are the hours of sale for on-premises consumption?
A: On-premises licensees may sell alcoholic beverages from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., Monday through Saturday. Counties still determine whether on-premises licensees may sell alcoholic beverages on Sunday and what hours those sales may occur. Okla. Const. Art. 28A, §3(C) and §6, 37A O.S. §3-124, 37A O.S. §3-125(B)(1).

Q: What are the hours of sale for (Breweries), (Liquor Stores), (Grocery/Convenience Stores)?
A: Small brewers may sell beer and wine from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., Monday through Saturday, Package stores may sell beer, wine, and spirits, from 8 a.m. to Midnight, Monday through Saturday, and Grocery and Convenience Stores may sell beer and wine from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday through Saturday. Small brewers and Package stores may sell on Sunday if approved by the county in which the licensed premises are located. 37A O.S. §2-102(D), 37A O.S. §3-113(C), 37A O.S. §6-103(A)(3).

Q: Do all counties in Oklahoma allow for Sunday sales of alcoholic beverages?
A: On-premises Sunday sales may still be prohibited or restricted by voters on a county-by-county basis. Based on ABLE Commission data, 13 counties have restricted on-premises Sunday sales (Adair, Canadian, Carter, Custer, Grady, Mayes, Muskogee, Noble, Nowata, Ottawa, Stephens, Washington, Woods), while five counties prohibit on-premises Sunday sales altogether (Atoka, Haskell, Kingfisher, Seminole, Washita). Okla. Const. Art. 28A, §6, 37A O.S. §3-124, 37A O.S. §3-125(B)(1).

Q: Are movie theaters allowed to sell alcoholic beverages?
A: Yes, movie theaters are permitted to obtain a mixed beverage license, provided that if persons under 21 are permitted to enter the same movie theater, then those patrons wishing to consume alcoholic beverages must have their hand stamped or wear a special bracelet identifying them as persons 21 or over. 37A O.S. §2-110(2).

Q: How old does someone need to be before applying for a liquor server license?
A: The legal age to obtain an ABLE Employee license remains 18 years of age. However, you must still be 21 or older to pour alcoholic beverages in a Type II Establishment, work in a Type I Establishment, or a Package Store. ABLE classifies those Mixed Beverage licensees whose primary purpose is the sale of alcoholic beverages to be a Type I Establishment, whereas all other Mixed Beverage licensees (those whose primary purpose is something other than the sale of alcoholic beverages) are considered by ABLE as Type II Establishments. 37A O.S. §2-121.

Q: What is the percentage of alcohol sales before being classified as a bar (21 to enter)?
A: A mixed beverage licensee must have a full kitchen on its premises, sell food items from full menu, and maintain gross sales on food of at least 35% per month in order to be designated as a Type-II establishment. 37A O.S. §6-114.

Q: Can I apply for a liquor license if I have been convicted of a felony?
A: If otherwise qualified, a convicted felon may obtain an ABLE Employee license as long as the conviction occurred over five years ago and was not violent or ABLE-related offense. A violent crime includes (but is not limited to) murder, rape, assault, battery, robbery, burglary, pointing a firearm, arson, inciting a riot, possessing child pornography, lewd or indecent proposal of a child, extortion, or terrorism or terrorism hoax. 37A O.S. §2-148(D)(2), 57 O.S. §571(2).

Q: If my establishment was licensed as a "Low-point Beer Bar" what are my options now that 3.2 beer goes away and it is only strong beer?
A: Low-point beer bars will not exist effective October 1, 2018. These low-point beer bars may apply for an ABLE mixed beverage license or an on-premises beer and wine license. If the sale of alcoholic beverages is the applicant’s main purpose, then persons under 21 will not be permitted to enter the license premises. If the low-point beer bar is located within 300 feet of a church or school, then it may apply for a mixed beverage license under a “grandfather provision” adopted by the Legislature in 2018, provided the licensed establishment does not cease operation or change ownership. 37A O.S. §2-110, 37A O.S. §2-128, 37A O.S. §2-139(C)(2), 37A O.S. 

Q: Can I advertise "Happy Hour" on mixed beverages, beer, and wine?
A: On-premises licensees may offer happy hour specials, using all lawful means of advertising, on alcoholic beverages on certain hours and/or days of the week, provided those happy hour prices must remain at least six percent (6%) above the licensee’s cost for that drink. 37A O.S. §6-102(4)(b).

Q: Who has to have an ABLE Employee license?
A: Any person who participates in the service, mixing, or sale of alcoholic beverages must obtain an ABLE Employee license. A manager of an on-premises licensee must also obtain an ABLE Employee license, whether or not the manager participates in the serving, mixing or sale of an alcoholic beverage. 37A O.S. §2-121.

Q: How old do I have to be to get an ABLE Employee license?
A: A person must be at least 18 years of age to obtain an ABLE Employee license, but ABLE Employee licensees are prohibited from selling or serving alcoholic beverages in package stores, Type I mixed beverage establishments, or designated bar areas of Type II mixed beverage establishments until they are at least 21 years of age. 37A O.S. §2-121, 37A O.S. §6-102(2)(a).

Q: Do I have to have any training to be eligible for an ABLE Employee license?
A: All applicants for an ABLE Employee license obtained after September 30, 2018, must complete server training within 14 days after receiving an ABLE Employee license. 37A O.S. §2-121.

Q: The new law requires mandatory server/seller training prior to an initial license from ABLE.  I already have my license.  Will I have to take the training when I renew my license?
A: Based on the ABLE Commission’s current interpretation, mandatory server training only applies to new ABLE Employee licensees, not current ABLE Employee licensees or those renewing their licenses. If an ABLE Employee license expires, however, that person would be required to complete mandatory server training. 37A O.S. §2-121.

Q: Can I infuse alcohol at my bar/restaurant?
A: On-premises licensees may infuse alcoholic beverages provided the infused beverage is not aged more than 14 days, not sold more than 21 days after the aging process is complete, and not stored in a container larger than 5 gallons. The on-premises licensee must mix and store the infused beverage on the licensed premise, affix a label to the container setting forth the production date, destruction date, and base product used, and maintain for ABLE inspection reports on when the containers were cleaned. 37A O.S. §5-133(B).

Q: Now that 3.2 beer is going away and it's just "strong beer" being sold, what new rules will ABLE enforce for the outdoor festivals I conduct or participate in? 
A: The sale, service, and consumption of all alcoholic beverages will fall under ABLE and local enforcement jurisdiction beginning October 1,2018. A person or entity wishing to sell or serve alcoholic beverages at a festival must obtain the appropriate license(s) and permit(s) from ABLE and local government, such as a public event license, or contract with a caterer or caterer-mixed beverage licensee to sell or serve those alcoholic beverages. 37A O.S. §2-114.

What's Happening
Join us for the 20th Anniversary of Odyssey de Culinaire! Celebrate 20 years of supporting Oklahoma's ProStart program and bolsterting Oklahoma's hospitality workforce! The first dinner will be Tuesday, July 11 at The River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, and the second dinner will be Thursday, July 20 at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel in Oklahoma City. We hope to see you at one or both of these unique dinners benefitting the Oklahoma ProStart® program!
The ORA has partnered with Adesso Capital to help our members and non-members file for their ERC funds. To date, Adesso has helped Oklahoma restaurants claim $4.6 Million dollars and counting! Adesso will even pay your initial ORA membership dues if you are not a member, and your next renewal dues if you are already a member. The Adesso team has helped hundreds of restaurants across the U.S. and is prepared to help you. Click this story to get connected with an Adesso team member today!
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