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Chef Geoff's, Geoff Tracy's Local American Chain in Several Area Locations

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Tysons location is alive and well - Have not had a bad meal here; Brunch, dinner or Thanksgiving (multiple years) - service has been good, worst part is location due to traffic in the immediate area. 

Wine list is decent, and if one does not feel like cooking for Thanksgiving, they do a nice meal with many options for adults and children.  The menu is listed on their website.  They also do a brunch which has great donuts, Bloody Mary's and benedicts.  Stuff changes seasonally so best to check their website first for updated menus.  Moderately priced for the NoVa area, suggest a reservation.

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Thank you for the support on this.  There is Supreme Court precedent supporting basic first amendment rights in this case (see 44 Liquormart v Rhode Island in 1996).  But even though  Virginia has all but said they agree with me, they are trying to bury me and my attorney in paperwork.  I handed over 65,000 of absolutely useless documents to them.  It is data on sales by the hour (they wanted by the minute).  I gave them three years of information.  They wanted ten years but my point of sale doesn't keep that info beyond three.  They wanted to settle with me but it would have been an incomplete victory as laws would have still have to make it through Richmond post dropping the suit.  The best thing for Virginia to do is to concede.  The further they delay, the more money the state is wasting defending asinine regulations that serve no purpose.  The fact that it is against the law to advertise the price of a glass of pinot grigio at happy hour makes no sense.  And Virginia is making it worse by trying to defend it.

-Geoff Tracy  - Chef Geoff's

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This is genuinely appalling and I share in the disgust that my tax dollars go towards the policing and defense of this absurdity.

Thank you for taking up this charge.

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I don't see how Geoff can possibly lose this case - if what he's advertising is legal, and he isn't making any false claims, then what law does Virginia have to stand on? I'm trying to think of a parallel, and I can't.

Maybe this ties in, somehow, to Virginia prohibiting the sale of alcohol after midnight?

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To restate, I'm not a lawyer, and haven't yet played one on TV, and I hope that GT prevails.

I do have experience reading legal briefs specifically as they pertain to alcohol laws. Have followed the direct shipping cases, and had my own case 20 years ago. 

I've just read the two briefs in this case, and am left with an uneasy feeling. I thought the state's defense was better and more robust than the Pacific Legal Foundation's attack. These cases can seem straightforward if you look at them from only one perspective. Look from both and they're more complicated.

Although they are different issues, I have a feeling just from reading the briefs, that Trone at SCOTUS, is on firmer legal ground, than GT in Va. I think the GT case could go either way, I'll be surprised if Trone loses.

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On 12/4/2018 at 10:57 AM, Ericandblueboy said:

Can the prevailing party recover its attorneys fees?

Unlikely in this case, plus GT is being represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative/libertarian public interest firm who typically don't charge their clients.

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Despite my uneasiness after reading the briefs in this case, I forgot to point out that the plaintiffs in a similar case, a group of broadcasters in Missouri, were successful at district court, with an even broader claim under the 1st Amendment against restrictions on alcohol advertising. Potentially good news for GT. That case is now on appeal to the Eight Circuit.
 
From Libation Law Blog........
 
Quote

A federal district court recently agreed with the plaintiffs, after a full trial, and entered a decision finding the two alcohol advertising laws and a tied-house provision of Missouri’s liquor laws violated the First Amendment rights of the plaintiffs. In doing so, the court held that the laws failed to advance Missouri’s alleged interests in dissuading over-consumption, reducing underage drinking, and maintaining an orderly marketplace. Specifically, in ruling against Missouri, the court found that based on the evidence, advertising bans don’t reduce consumption, nor do they provide a discernable reduction in underage consumption, and that prohibiting certain advertising like price disclosures from occurring outside (or off premises) of retailers but not inside the same retailer was inconsistent.

The order overturning the regulations and the statute was so important and its ruling so transformative that the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control even issued emergency amendments to their regulations to come into compliance with the holding of the district court’s ruling.

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I have not read through the detail of any of this.  I do believe though the Virginia restriction on outside signage about happy hours is an incredibly stupid and antiquated rule.  Today, it appears that every and any bar, restaurant, hotel restaurant can and does fully advertise its happy hour specials on the web.  Its available on all menu's everywhere.  Its highly visible.   At one time there were highly visible searchable websites about happy hours and happy hour specials for any food and beverage place in Virginia. 

In fact if I search on the phrase "happy hour tysons corner" in Google (from anywhere in the US)  the top response is Chef Geoff's.   Bully for him.  Great Search Engine Work.  And by the way when I go to the Chef Geoff's menu for HH...OMG it is enormous.  Looks like a great one at the very least for variety.

If I search for the same phrase in Yelp, I get a different restaurant as first.

Now all things being equal, in most locations if I had that kind of Google visibility it would probably outweigh and drastically outweigh the value of a sign.  But Chef Geoff could probably put a sign or signs in his office development which would work for people in the immediate vicinity and those that shop in the nearby accessible stores; but if he could get a largish visible sign on the Pylon facing  Rte 7, that would be highly effective.  I think there are somewhere in the range of 80,000 cars passing that spot every weekday.  I'd like a sign about my HH wherein 80,000 cars see it every day!!!!

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Irish Liquor Lawyer takes a look at the Chef Geoff case, and good news..... is more upbeat than I was......
Makes the hearing on the 22nd (if the courts are open), potentially more interesting than I had anticipated......
 
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Can Virginia make a plausible defense for its happy hour law?

Because this is not a tied house situation, one of a state’s best defenses is not available to Virginia. So how does Virginia defend its law? 

If the state wants to restrict free speech on these grounds, (curtailing these restrictions leads to overconsumption), then it must prove its case. For example, the state will probably need to provide empirical evidence backing up its assertions. Specifically, if the state is going to usurp the 1st Amendment, it must provide a direct causation between loosening restrictions on advertising and overconsumption of liquor. Often times that evidence may not exist or is hard to prove.

Second, Virginia may need to reach into the temperance bag to prove that the advertising restrictions are necessary to promote temperance. Problematically, temperance is not a strong argument and may be dead as it applies to state laws. I have not seen a case of importance recently that affirms temperance as a plausible defense for a state law. Further, the weak temperance argument would come face to face with a 1st Amendment challenge. Without going into specifics on the Central Hudson 1st Amendment test, any law curtailing free speech requires proving a tough burden. A weak temperance justification would be nearly impossible to justify curtailing 1st Amendment rights.

Temperance is effective really at the local level, where the localities can make the argument to restrict the number and types of licenses and also who gets licensed.

Third, the state would probably need to prove that there weren’t less restrictive measures available to curb overconsumption. This argument would be very hard to prove. In fact, if the state wanted to curb overconsumption it could take measures such as limiting hours of operation or limiting the discounting of drinks. Curbing overconsumption by curbing 1st Amendment rights is a very hard argument to defend.

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Attended the court hearing yesterday. I'm more optimistic now for CGT, who turned up in his whites. (It crossed my mind that was risky because the court rightly or wrongly could consider it a lack of respect. Best not to risk alienating the judge. How long does it take to change?) 
 
Judge was more skeptical of Va ABC than CGT position. Bills are pending in Richmond that if they become law would permit the advertisement of HH pricing, and render moot part of the CGT claim.
Short session this year in Richmond ends 02/23.
Judge simply said he would render decision ASAP.

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