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Frequently Asked Questions

What is 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 Mixed Beverage county restrictions?
County restriction list (pdf)

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.

What's Happening
The dates and featured chefs for Odyssey de Culinaire 2018 have been set! The first dinner will be Thursday, July 12 at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel in OKC, and the second dinner will be Thursday, July 19 at River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa. We hope to see you at one or both of these unique dinners benefitting the Oklahoma ProStart® program!
Would you like to exhibit your product or service during the largest and most important foodservice/hospitality industry trade show in the state? Reserve your booth space online! The annual Oklahoma Restaurant Convention & Expo will be held September 26-27 at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City and you don't want to miss this opportunity to get in front of decision-makers!
The ORA Academy is back in January with our popular BOH/Culinary and FOH/Management tracks, and we're excited to bring these training classes to Tulsa - as well as OKC - in 2018! The goal of the Academy is to offer continuing education and professional development to particular demographics of ORA’s membership.
The ORA has launched its new Oklahoma Hospitality Buyers’ Guide - a valuable, easily accessible, year-round resource featuring updated and expanded supplier and product listings, in addition to other information relating to the hospitality industry. The Guide provides users with an efficient way to browse for goods and services and offers hospitality suppliers and companies exceptional visibility by showcasing their products and services to a targeted, industry-specific buyer group.
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