Q: After listening to Chris LeDoux sing "Cadillac Ranch," some of us were wondering if this would be an easy way to pay for college by doing the same thing that he sings about.
A: For those of you who are country musically challenged, the song "Cadillac Ranch" tells the tale of a family about to lose the farm due to a bank foreclosure. But the family members join forces and save the day by quitting farming, the boys form a band, dad buys a case of booze, and the "old bean patch" is used as the parking lot for the entertainment complex – the old barn.
Those of us who grew up in Northern Colorado fondly remember the recurring commercial barn dances in actual barns and machine sheds where the music ranged from rock, polka-dutch hop, to acid rock, but only occasionally country/western. And I must admit that when I lived in Hawaii, there was a regular rent party open to all for a fee.
But that was then and this is now. I am afraid all of you might face a major disappointment.
There would be three major hurdles to overcome. First, zoning would be a problem. The barn that you intend to use sits on agriculturally zoned property. It would be necessary to change to commercial zoning or somehow receive a variance (assuming that a variance was even available). Needless to say, months of work, expenses, and public hearings lay ahead where concerns such as "noise," traffic, public safety, etc. would be discussed and decided.
Next, the building must meet code and fire requirements. Remember the barn is an old agricultural structure. The list of mandatory work would probably sink the embryonic project pronto.
Finally, the Health Department would certainly be interested in a plethora of issues ranging from the approved kitchen (if you sell liquor you must supply food) to the septic system (for obvious reasons).
Besides these concerns, you would also have to deal with a long laundry list of individual permits and licenses that would be required. Additionally, there would be the accounting and legal issues such as how to conduct business, employee forms and paperwork, tax and withholding issues, security, insurance…(You get the picture). And of course ASCAP (royalty payments on the music you play) would also be very interested.
So enjoy the song but you might want to try gold prospecting instead (Yes, I am serious. People have paid for college this way).
Q: I realize that this is not really a legal question but as a waitress I am convinced that there is a huge segment of the dining public who is unaware that servers live and die on TIPS. We are not salaried and we do not receive the normal minimum wage.
A: I would be happy to print your concern. I believe that your "minimum guarantee" is as low as $2.15 an hour. But for tax purposes, you must report ten percent of your gross sales, whether you receive that much in gratuities or not. Then you have all of your deductions and withholdings taken out and in many places TIP sharing with the busers and bartenders further reduces your "walk away" money. And even though there are good money producing restaurants and certain good nights elsewhere, after listening to those in the industry, going home with less than minimum wage seems to happen too often in Fort Collins.
But remember from the diners' perspective, unless a mandatory tip is added to the check, the system is designed to be voluntary.