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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.

Pertaining to and reviewed by the ABLE Commission:
Where can I find information about Oklahoma's Mixed Beverage county restrictions?
County restriction list (pdf)
Q. Who can be held responsible if someone drives away from a mixed beverage establishment intoxicated and causes a traffic accident?
A. All employees handling or serving the alcohol, bartenders, managers or owner/licensee. Anyone is liable and can be charged civilly.

Q. Can parents furnish alcohol to children in restaurants/banquets/private parties/weddings/ receptions or other events?
A. No. (Title 37, Oklahoma Statutes, Section 246)

Q. How old does someone have to be to set up a portable bar or banquet bar?
A. An individual must be 21 years of age to handle alcohol. You must post the designated bar sign on the bar.

Q. What is the definition of a common area of a hotel?
A. Any area that has public access.

Q. Is your property licensed or non-licensed?
A. The licensed premise should be clearly defined of all designated areas with ABLE.

Q. Who must obtain a service or bartender license? And where do I get one?
A. Anyone serving/selling/mixing/stocking strong beer, wine, or liquor. This includes all employees, bartenders, managers, and owners.  To apply for an Alcohol Beverage Employee license go online to and select the box ABLE online licensing to register then complete an application and pay the $30 license fee. You will be able to print a temporary license good for 30 days to give to your employer then login online after 14 days to print off the permanent license that is good for 2 years. Failure to provide a copy to your employer or have a copy with you could result in a fine.

Q. Can an 18 year old licensed server pour wine at the table for customers?
A. Yes, the server may carry the bottle from the designated bar pick up area to the table and pour the wine for the customers.

Q. What is the maximum penalty for falsifying an Oklahoma Drivers License?
A. The minimum fine is $1,000 up to $10,000 and 7 years imprisonment.

Q. How many drinks can a person be served before becoming intoxicated?
A. It depends on several factors including: food, water, time, gender, body size, and the amount of alcohol consumed.

Q. What are the rules for Happy Hour & other service restrictions?
A. The law does differentiate between “happy hour”, “drink specials”, and “promotions”. Happy Hours in mixed beverage establishments are illegal - no reduced drink prices; However, they are permitted to reduce the price for low point beer. Low point beer establishments have the following rules: A restaurant selling low point beer only with designated bar cannot have happy hour. (Title 37, Oklahoma Statutes, Section 220) A low-point beer bar can have happy hour. (Title 37, Oklahoma Statutes, Section 246B)

Drink specials must occur for an entire calendar week. (Example: Sunday-Saturday) Promotions are allowed if they follow the same calendar week schedule. The law does not allow a licensee to offer a food and drink combination for a special price.

Q. What are the penalties for serving or selling to a minor?
A. For Low point beer: Misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year imprisonment and/or up to a $550 fine. For all other alcoholic beverages: Felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and/or up to a $2,500 to $5,000 fine.

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
This annual Fall event is the largest trade show in the state of Oklahoma and the most important event for foodservice, hospitality, and tourism industry professionals, featuring hundreds of exhibits, an opening night party, the ever-popular ORA Culinary Cook-off, the exciting ORA Cocktail Shakedown and over 6,000 industry attendees.
The Oklahoma Restaurant Association is making preparations for two popular competitions to be held during the 2017 Oklahoma Restaurant Convention & Expo on August 30 & 31. The official applications have been made available; all we need are applicants!
We will host an informational session on the "New Alcohol Laws Coming your Way," presented by attorney Adam Marshall with Barrow & Grimm. Each 2-hour session will cover the details of the new law, which goes into effect October 1, and include plenty of time for Q&A. The session will be held in five (5) locations across the state; simply choose the date and location that works for you!
Make plans now to be in Oklahoma City on November 12 for the annual Hirst Hospitality Awards. Help us recognize and honor the hardworking employees in the foodservice industry; there's nothing like the value of a good staff!
3800 N. Portland Ave., Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112
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