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Earlier this month, Stephen Barth and Hospitalitylawyer.com hosted the most recent installment of their successful hospitality law conference held each February in Houston.  This year’s conference saw attendance return to pre-recession levels with representation from many of the in-house legal departments of the largest national and international hotel operators.  The conference dedicated the first day to three all-day pre-conference boot camps on real estate, privacy / PCI compliance and the unique issues faced by the restaurant and lodging in-house lawyer.  I sat through the real estate presentations, which although a little slow at times (you can only define REVPAR so many times), did a reasonable job of summarizing the variety of issues associated with the development, purchase, sale and management of hospitality properties in one coherent presentation.  Ruth sat through the privacy / PCI discussion and found it very informative.  The second day was filled with a wide variety of topics – from alcohol compliance, to sweepstakes, to franchise negotiations, to receiverships to tips – in one of four breakouts dedicated to food & beverage, lodging, human resources and loss prevention.  The highlight of the third and final day was the annual hospitality case update.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board has issued a Notice of Rule Making for a proposed amendment to the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) prohibiting the manufacture, importing and sale of “alcohol energy drinks.” The Board defines alcohol energy drinks as any beverages containing beer, strong beer or malt liquor and “caffeine, guarana, taurine, or other similar substances.” The public may comment on the proposed rule until February 23, 2011.

This new rule is virtually identical to the emergency rule adopted by the Board on November 10, 2010, which is currently in effect and will continue until March of this year. Unlike the emergency measure, the proposed rule contains language making clear that the prohibition is not intended to extend to substances in which coffee and chocolate are added to alcohol. Irish coffees and liquored chocolates are still safe!

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Greg Duff
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Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.

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