Each year, millions of music fans, boating enthusiasts and foodies gather at pristine venues across Florida. Whether they sip Chardonnay at the SOBE Wine & Food Fest in South Beach or drink a beer at the Super Bowl in Jacksonville, what they don’t see is that one Greenspoon Marder attorney and his partners are playing an integral role behind the scenes to provide a total compliance solution for alcoholic beverage and food sales at many of these events.
Louis “Lou” Terminello has centered his 40+ year career in the alcohol beverage industry as a regulator, industry attorney and industry member. Throughout the 1980s, Terminello was a Senior State Law Enforcement Investigator with the State of Florida’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco.
In this role, he became acutely aware of the laws around licensing and enforcement regulations which prompted his interest in becoming an attorney, eventually leading him to his current position at Greenspoon Marder. “Becoming an attorney practicing in the alcohol beverage industry was a natural evolution for me,” said Terminello. “I had a deep understanding of the nuances of alcohol law, and I had developed strong relationships with both industry operators and regulators. I knew I could serve the industry well with a law degree, and I also knew I wanted to be part of it in a lasting and meaningful way.”
In 1990, Terminello graduated from the University of Miami School of Law, took early retirement as an alcohol regulator and entered into the nightlife and hospitality industry full force. Since then, he has owned numerous restaurants, nightclubs and bars across Florida, helped to create Florida Beverage Services (FBS) and joined Greenspoon Marder as a partner and chair of the Hospitality, Alcohol and Leisure Industry Group. The group serves resort investors, lenders, developers, owners and operators across the broad range of industries within the hospitality and leisure sectors, and it provides comprehensive legal representation and regulatory guidance relating to the manufacture, import, distribution, marketing and retail sale of alcohol beverage and tobacco products.
Terminello has become even more immersed in the alcohol beverage industry since creating FBS with his partners, Barry Kates, a well-known and respected event coordinator, and Joe Delaney, who has owned and operated nightlife ventures in South Florida for 25 years. FBS is a compliance solution company offering a legal and DABT/DBPR approved method for providing alcoholic beverage service (spirits, beer and wine) plus catering services to special events anywhere in Florida. The company’s client list includes some of the state’s most popular entertainers and shows such as Pitbull, Ultra Music Festival, Riptide, EDC, and Bob Marley Festival, to name a few. The machinations are endless and each deal is different, but what does not change is that Terminello and FBS are in the middle of virtually every major event held in Florida each year, in some capacity.
“My business endeavors in the alcoholic beverage industry are perfect complements to my hospitality practice at the firm,” Terminello said. “I have a firsthand understanding of how alcohol regulatory and compliance matters impact a business, together with almost 30 years of legal experience in providing solutions to the industry. Combine that with the relationships I’ve developed with event organizers, venue operators and all tiers of the alcohol industry, and I’m afforded a seat at the table in some regard when it involves legally and professionally serving alcoholic beverages at a major event in Florida.”
Terminello is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of Miami School of Law teaching Alcohol Beverage Law, and from 2006 to 2013 he was an Adjunct Professor at Florida International University’s Chaplain School of Hospitality and Tourism Management teaching Beverage Law Management/Alcoholic Beverage Law. He has lectured on several occasions at Florida Bar CLE events, and he has authored a number of publications related to various topics in alcoholic beverage law. Additionally, he has been appointed Special Counsel to U.S. Bankruptcy Court trustees for alcoholic beverage issues in the United States Bankruptcy Court on numerous occasions.
A high profile career in the alcohol beverage industry has provided Terminello with volumes of stories about nightlife in the Sunshine State, but aside from his cases that become public in the news, he’s not dishing. “It’s all part of the job,” he grins, “and at the end of day I’m humbled and proud to be part of the show.”