Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Your keys to VIP Status during the Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO

Enjoy the good things in life by taking a trip on the National Restaurant Association Political Action Committee (NRA PAC) Bus, during the Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO, August 11-13 at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.

NRA Board Member
Dickie Brennan wants your
support to PAC the Bus!
PAC the Bus, a hospitality suite with a twist, is a luxury tour vehicle to be located right on the EXPO show floor between the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s booth and the Great American Seafood Cook-Off. Complete with cuisine, courtesy of Centerplate, and libations, courtesy of Champagne Beverage, a trip on the Bus will include relaxing chair massages for those who make an NRA PAC contribution.

“We wanted to do something other than a dinner this year to meet Louisiana’s fundraising goal for the NRA PAC,” said NRA Board Member Dickie Brennan. “PAC the Bus was developed to be a benefit for those attending the EXPO who may want to support the advocacy of our industry in Washington and take a reprieve from the bustling activities of the EXPO Show Floor.”

On Saturday, 2012 NRA Chairwoman Roz Mallet will board the Bus to meet PAC donors and thank them for their contributions to support the ever growing need for political advocacy for the nation’s restaurant industry.

Want to be a VIP?

To Board the Bus—First Class, you are invited to make a $500 NRA PAC contribution. You and a guest will experience the amenities of the Bus for the entire three-day EXPO. At this level, you will be recognized as an NRA PAC the Bus Sponsor in all remaining materials. Sponsorships are non-transferrable.

Five hundred bucks a little too rich for your blood? You’re in luck. Become a Prestigious Passenger and you will enjoy the exclusivity of the NRA PAC Bus for a $150 contribution during the three-day EXPO. At this level, you will partake in the amenities of the Bus to benefit the advocacy of our industry in the U.S. Congress.

Only in town for a day? Take a Day Trip on the NRA PAC Bus! For only $75 per person, you will delight in the camaraderie, cuisine, libations and amenities. Rest in luxury and know that your time is well spent and for an excellent cause.

Your hosts for this exciting adventure are Past NRA Chairman Ralph Brennan, NRA Emertis Board Member Greg Hamer, Brennan, and NRA Board Member Tommy Cvitanovich and 2012 LRA Chairman Melvin Rodrigue.

A special thank you to the NRA PAC Sponsors (as of July 31): Tony Abadie, Rob Antoon, Bruce Attinger, Jim Besselman, Katy Casbarian, Phil Faul, Stan Harris, Octavio Mantilla, Greg Reggio, Paul Rotner and Jim Urdiales.

Payments to the NRA PAC must be in the form of a credit card or a check from individual and non-corporate business members of the National Restaurant Association or affiliated state restaurant associations. This can include, for example, businesses operating as sole proprietorships, businesses operating as partnerships, businesses operating as LLCs that are treated as partnerships under tax law.

To reserve your seat on the NRA PAC Bus, please call Wendy Waren at (504) 454-2277 or via e-mail at wendyw@lra.org. Please have your credit card ready or your check made out ready to mail!

Help us the PAC the Bus!

Monday, July 30, 2012

NRA Chairwoman to open Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO

As the first African American female to lead the NationalRestaurant Association in 2012 as chairwoman, Roz Mallet will join the Louisiana Restaurant Association for the Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO Opening Ceremony, Saturday, August 11 at 10:45 a.m., New Orleans Morial Convention Center.
Roz Mallet, 2012 National Restaurant Assoc.
chairwoman, will open the Louisiana
Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO, August 11.
For 35 years, Mallet has made her career in the restaurant industry and began that career as many have-- as a college student. Her brother encouraged her to apply for a position where he worked—at El Chico—and within a few months she was promoted to a supervisor position. Mallet continued with the company through college and moved into an assistant manager role before moving into the corporate training department. Several years later, the company’s president, Thomas Doolin, moved on to W.R. Grace & Co., and Mallet was tapped as a training supervisor at a newly acquired two-unit chain, Applebee’s.

As the company’s headquarters relocated to Kansas City from Dallas, Mallet chose to stay in Dallas and consult with Doolin’s wife. After years of consulting, she returned to Applebee’s as the Vice President of Human Resources, where she was a valuable and trusted advisor.

She’s served as the Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, the parent company of TGI Friday’s and as the COO at La Madeleine, and the director of Caribou Coffee Co. After a year, she was hired as Caribou’s President and COO and also served as the company’s interim President and CEO. 
“We are excited to have an industry professional of Roz’s caliber join us in New Orleans to kick off our 59th Annual EXPO,” said Stan Harris, LRA President and CEO. “Her determination, leadership and passion for the restaurant industry is truly remarkable and we look forward to showing her the Southern hospitality Louisiana is world-famous for during her stay.”

In recent years, Mallet has changed her career track to move to the entrepreneurial side of business as President and CEO of PhaseNext Hospitality—a franchise operating company. PNH’s mission is to deliver fresh, high quality quick casual restaurant brands that meet the public’s ever-increasing demand for higher quality food, service, hospitality and convenience to airport concessions programs and other non-traditional venues.
“She is a wonderful example of how, with motivation and determination, the opportunities in the restaurant industry are there for those who want them, and most importantly, want to work for them,” Harris added.
Not only does she put her all into her work, but she serves as a mentor to many. In 2008, she was recognized with the Women’s Foodservice Forum’s Trailblazer Award for supporting gender diversity and creating new paths for women in the industry.

She began serving on the NRA Board of Directors in 2004, and is also a member of the NRA EducationalFoundation Board of Trustees.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Family at the core of many Louisiana restaurants

The summer edition of the Louisiana Restaurant Association's quarterly magazine, A La Carte, will hit mailboxes this week. On the cover is Keith and Nealy Frentz, owners of Lola Restaurant in Covington, who will be representing Louisiana in the Great American Seafood Cookoff on Saturday, August 11 at the Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO in New Orleans at the Convention Center. Their story leads the feature article, "Couples in the Kitchen."

Many restaurants in Louisiana are owned and operated entirely or, in part by, members of a family. While these restaurants are common in our state with nearly 80 percent being family owned, it’s almost the exact opposite from the other 49 states.
“Family restaurant businesses are a significant part of the cultural and culinary fabric of Louisiana, where family recipes are passed down, younger  generations can make their mark and the legacy and history of a lineage is carried on,” said Stan Harris, President/CEO of the Louisiana Restaurant Association.

Meet Keith and Nealy Frentz
Keith and Nealy Frentz own Lola Restaurant in
Covington, La. and will represent Louisiana
in the Great American Seafood Cookoff
at the Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO
Saturday, August 11 in New Orleans.
On the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain in the downtown area of Covington, sits a historic Old Train Depot made of brick. Since 2007, Keith and Nealy Frentz have operated a quaint 32-seat restaurant named Lola in a section of the depot, where they serve, on average, 160 guests a day during lunch and will do two turns of the dining room during dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. Uniquely, the kitchen is positioned parallel to the dining room and is inside an old caboose.

The couple, both graduates of Johnson and Wales—he at the Charleston campus and she in Rhode Island—found their way to the Northshore following Hurricane Katrina where they stayed with Keith’s parents. Keith, who is from Covington, took a part-time job at Dakota Restaurant while they awaited their fate at Brennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street where both had worked for several years prior to the storm. They met on the line in that famous kitchen.

For the Frentz’s, fate would intervene as the two were destined to run Lola and start their family North of New Orleans.
“A family friend owns the building and had lost their tenant,” said Keith. “The timing was perfect and we made the leap and opened our first place.”

During lunch on weekdays, the restaurant is very casual and guests order at the counter.  The two split kitchen duty—he handles the specials and she does the baking and sandwiches. The baking recipes that Nealy uses are those of her grandmother, who she said was an excellent baker. Nealy has also assumed most of the front and back of the house administrative responsibilities.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, the restaurant takes on a fine dining persona and becomes one of Covington’s more notable establishments for cuisine that isn’t easy to come by in the area.

“We could have a much more adventurous menu if our restaurant was in New Orleans,” said Nealy. “The lunch service is quick and diners are in and out in about 45-minutes. During weekend dinner service they tend to want the same turnaround time, which isn’t as practical as the menu is more complex and time consuming.”
Of all the challenges they’ve encountered, balancing work and family presents the biggest. Their daughter was born in 2008 and as a result, the couple hired some help so that Nealy could spend more time with her. The couple is expecting their second child in early 2013.

Where do they see themselves in the next five years?
“We would like to open a second location or move into a bigger restaurant space,” said Keith.

Nealy’s responded, “I hope we are still in business. Owning a restaurant is stressful and there are a lot of unknowns. I just hope we can sustain and maybe expand the business.”

Nealy and Keith Frentz take top place in the Louisiana Seafood Cookoff
at the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience in May. They will represent
Louisiana on the national stage at the Great American Seafood Cookoff.
They are on the right track to making a lasting impression on diners on the Northshore and have garnered positive media attention in recent years. Recently, the couple competed for the second consecutive year in the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off held at the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience. In 2011, they placed third, but this year, with a Des Allemands catfish dish, they took the top spot.
As the reigning King and Queen of Louisiana Seafood, Keith and Nealy will compete for that title at the national level at the Great American Seafood Cook Off, Saturday, August 11 at the Louisiana Foodservice and Hospitality EXPO in New Orleans.

When asked why they are members of the Louisiana Restaurant Association, they paused, looked at each other and said, “the Workers’ Comp program.” He went on to add that he couldn’t understand why any restaurant owner wouldn’t take part in the association that represents their best interests and is there when you need them.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Your Path to Better Numbers

Why you should be using the NRA’s Uniform System of Accounts for Restaurants

By Jim Laube, President of RestaurantOwner.com. RestaurantOwner.com works with independent operators who want to turn their good restaurant into a great business. For more information visit www.RestaurantOwner.com.
In 1985, I opened my restaurant consulting practice. Having practiced as a CPA, I would offer to prospective clients, as one of my first services, to prepare their monthly financial statements. Within the first year I found myself involved in the ongoing accounting and financial statement preparation for 10 independent restaurants.

While many of the restaurant’s P&L (profit-and-loss statement) formats were similar, all had unique characteristics. I began noticing it was common to get telephone calls from a bookkeeper or general manager with questions like, “Our ice machine went down last week and we had to buy ice. Where do we cost code ice?” or “We had a private party and bought decorations and ornaments. Where should we charge these costs?” Particularly when I was pressed for time, my standard reply was “sounds like a Miscellaneous Expense to me.” While being a fairly expedient way of handling a phone call, I discovered that one of the biggest expense categories for some restaurants became “Miscellaneous.”
Most of these restaurants’ expense categories did not reflect the types of costs found in a foodservice environment. As a result many of their operating expenses were getting lost in “Miscellaneous.”

Obviously it’s difficult to control a specific cost if you don’t even know what it is.
The Uniform System of Accounts for Restaurants
has been the industry standard for more than 50 years.
The recent 2012 edition was edited by Jim Laube.
About that time I attended a restaurant accounting seminar and learned about the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) Uniform System of Accounts for Restaurants and immediately saw some advantages to using it.

Among the advantages:
  • It gives restaurant operators a common language based on a well-thought-out and “industry specific” means of understanding and analyzing their operating results and financial position.
  • Allows for the easy comparison of one restaurant’s operating numbers to other restaurants.
  • Provides detailed instructions for accurately classifying (cost coding) the many expenses associated with operating a restaurant and guidance in accounting for many “unique” restaurant industry transactions.
  • Allows for easy comparison with industry averages that are published annually in the NRA’s “Restaurant Industry Operations Report.”
  • When used to format your projections in business plans and financing packages, the Uniform Systems makes you and your numbers appear more credible because you’re using the industry “standard,” an accepted way to present this information.

This is very important, so I’ll emphasize this point again: When making presentations to bankers and investment professionals to raise money, “always” format your financial projections using the Uniform System. It tells bankers, lenders and investment professionals you’ve done your homework, you know what’s going on in your industry, and I’ve found it even lends more believability to the numbers.
For even more credibility, compare your projections with industry averages in the NRA’s Restaurant Industry Operations Report. I’ve found that this usually impresses bankers and investor types more than anything else in a business plan or financial package.

The Uniform System of Accounts for Restaurants has been in use for more than 50 years and has been updated and revised several times. It is the NRA’s largest-selling publication. The latest edition was published in 2012 and includes a comprehensive expense dictionary to help you in classifying the many types of expenses you run into operating a restaurant. You can order the Uniform System of Accounts for Restaurants on the NRA’s website. Louisiana Restaurant Association members can purchase the book for $79.95 and non-members for $159.95. The book is also available for purchase at restaurantowner.com.
Over the years, I have converted many restaurants from their own proprietary chart of accounts to the NRA’s Uniform System. While I must admit that it takes some time and can be a little disruptive, once the dust settled, no operator ever regretted it. The Uniform System proved to have many advantages over their previous one and, most importantly, it gives them a better understanding of what their numbers tell them and how their restaurants perform.

Jim Laube works with independent restaurant operators who want practical advice to improve their business management practices to build a more profitable restaurant and valuable business.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Natural disasters haven't dampened the spirits of Thai restaurateur

At the Louisiana Restaurant Association, we are acutely aware that it is hurricane season. Throughout the season, our communications department continues to remind members to Get A Game Plan in advance of any weather-related disruption of business. VP of Communications Wendy Waren has known Dussadee Oeawpanich for more than 10 years and felt her story would help illustrate the importance of being prepared-for your business, employees and family.

Dussadee Oeawpanich owns
Fizz Bistro n Bar in Khao Lak, Thailand.
She shares her experience with the LRA
of the possibility of evacuating for
a tsunami, as she's previously done, as
well as for Hurricane Katrina.
For five years, Dussadee Oeawpanich has operated a popular eatery in Khao Lak, located on the Andaman Coast of Thailand-nearly 10,000 miles from the Louisiana Restaurant Association headquarters. Until Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in 2005, she called New Orleans home and found comfort in the similarities between her hometown of Khao Lak and those of the Crescent City.

She returned to Khao Lak and found the local restaurant scene sparse with options and that inspired her to open her own place—Fizz Bistro n Bar. Now, she has one of the most popular eateries along the coast, serving what Oeawpanich refers to as “contemporary Thai cuisine influenced by my world travels and my time in the United States and Louisiana.”

Fizz Bistro n Bar is a small restaurant with 48 seats and just five employees. Oeawpanich serves as owner and manager and sometimes chef and bartender when duty calls. With limited staffing options, she’s found that her ability to pinch hit when the place fills isn’t as daunting as she once believed.

“I love visiting with my patrons and serving cuisine that I hold close to my heart,” said Oeawpanich. “Running a restaurant in Thailand is stressful but at the end of each night, we are just blissful having made them smiles and often reminisce about their travels, home cooked meals and desire to be adventurous in their selections.”
Fizz Bistro n Bar is located in Khao Lake
But running Fizz Bistro n Bar in its location presents a host of other challenges. For one, the most stressful is the constant reminder that she and her staff may have to close up shop at a moment’s notice and head for higher ground.

In 2004, when visiting her family in December, she was forced to evacuate when a Tsunami came ashore. Khao Lak was one the coastal areas of Thailand hit the hardest by the tsunami resulting from the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. While the final death toll was more than 4,000, local unofficial estimates are believed to be closer to 10,000.

“The area was destroyed and during the years since, the community has rebounded,” said Oeawpanich. “The experience of evacuating for the 2004 tsunami really prepared me for Hurricane Katrina’s evacuation and now, I feel I’m resilient enough to come back, rebuild and move on.”

Just like most of us in South Louisiana, she thought she’d have to leave for a few days and then be able to go back. That wasn’t the case in Khao Lak, nor was it the case following Hurricane Katrina, which resulted in her losing everything she had built during her time living in New Orleans. She remembers packing a few changes of cloths, food and water for two days and grabbing her passport.

“Unfortunately insuring my business in Khao Lak is not an option for me,” said Oeawpanich. “If you can find someone to insure you, it’s so cost prohibitive, it’s just not worth it.”

Before the tsunami of 2004 and Hurricane Katrina, she didn’t give much thought to hurricane preparedness. Now however, she realizes the extent of the damage and destruction major natural disasters can cause.

“Now, I’m highly organized and encourage my staff to have their game plans in order, a bag packed with their most cherished belongings,” she said. “I’ve lost everything and many of them have too, but as time passes, the memories of that loss fades and becomes a distant memory.

www.getagameplan.org helps Louisiana
businesses and families prepare for
weather-related emergencies with check
lists, tips and resources.
She recognizes the enormous risk she has running Fizz, but it’s one she feels prepared for and her love of her hometown and her business trumps the risk in her opinion.

Do you have an emergency plan in event of a Hurricane? Where will you go? Where will your staff go? How will stay in contact with them? What’s your plan for securing your restaurant?

Visit www.LRA.org’s Members Only Section for a sample plan and tips for getting your game plan.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

5 Food Safety Tips for Summer Grilling from the NRA

Food safety is the highest priority of restaurants in Louisiana
and should be equally a priority for home cooks.
From backyard barbeques to picnic cookouts, Americans celebrate summer by eating outdoors. As Americans turn to grilling alfresco, experts at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) offer five food safety tips to ensure safe and memorable summer grilling experiences.

"Temperatures in Louisiana continue to rise and if home cooks don't take the necessary safety precautions, their backyard festivities could turn into a nightmare," said Pam St. Pierre, LRA VP of Member Services. "Food safety is the most important aspect of running a restaurant and should be just as important when feeding family and friends in a home environment."

The Louisiana Restaurant Association provides industry professionals with the education and techniques to ensure that food is properly prepared, stored or cooked to correct temperatures through its ServSafe program. It is believed that most foodborne illnesses actually occur at home, due to improper storage, cross containination, holding practices and not cooking meats to proper temperatures.  

“In professional kitchens, trained staff and multiple safeguards ensure that food safety protocol is followed, but at home it’s easy to let food safety practices be as casual as the food you are cooking on the grill,” said Greg Beachey, senior academic relations and program manager with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. “Food safety is as important in the home as it is in restaurants to ensure safe and enjoyable meals for you and your family and friends. To underscore that importance, we collected tips from our professional food safety training experts and applied them to outdoor grilling at home or picnics.”

The food safety tips recommended by the NRA for grilling at home are:

1.       Wash your hands. Hand-washing is the first defense against cross-contamination - i.e. not spreading germs from one place to another. Wash hands before handling any food, and always after handling raw meats. To wash your hands properly, wet hands/arms with water as hot as you can comfortably stand; add soap; scrub hands/arms for 10 to 15 seconds (the time it takes to slowly recite aloud the “Pledge of Allegiance”); rinse with warm water; and dry hands with a single-use paper towel or hand-dryer, if available.

2.       Pack your cooler correctly. Always keep cold foods cold; use a thermometer to make sure you are maintaining a temperature of 41°F or lower. Pack raw food that you intend to cook (like raw hamburgers) in a separate cooler from food that is already cooked and ready to eat, including beverages and produce. If you use ice in your raw foods cooler, don’t use that ice for anything else.

3.       Prep raw and ready-to-eat foods separately. Use separate cutting boards and other prep surfaces for raw and cooked food to minimize cross-contamination risk. A good way to remember which is which is to use different colored boards, for example red for meats and green for vegetables.

4.       Use separate plates and utensils for raw and cooked foods. After putting raw burgers, chicken breasts or other meats on the grill, switch to clean spatulas, tongs and plates. Using the same utensils and surfaces for uncooked and cooked meats could lead to cross-contamination.

5.       Cook food to safe temperatures. Raw meat and poultry could contain bacteria that can lead to foodborne illness if not properly cooked. Because heat kills bacteria, be sure to cook hamburgers to an internal temperature of 155°F for at least 15 seconds. Chicken and turkey are safe at 165°F, and steaks and chops at 145°F. Always use a meat thermometer and measure the middle of the thickest part of the food.

A how-to video of Beachey, who is also a certified chef and culinary expert for the NRAEF’sProStart program, showing proper execution of these food safety tips is available on the NRA’s YouTubechannel.

Through its ServSafe Food Safety program, the NRA is the leading source of food safety training and certification for restaurant and foodservice industry professionals for nearly 40 years.

Part of the NRA’s continuing efforts to educate the industry and consumers about food safety best practices is its National Food Safety Month campaign, held each September.  This year’s theme is “Be Safe – Don’t Cross-Contaminate,” focusing on how to avoid transferring potential contaminates from one food or surface to another. National Food Safety Month 2012 is sponsored by SCA, a global hygiene company and makers of the Tork® brand of away-from-home paper products.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ambassadors of Cocktails, yes, there's such a thing

Cure and Bellocq owners Kirk Estopinal
and Neal Bodenheimer are the 2012
Ambassadors of Tales of the Cocktail,
a five-day spirits festival in New Orleans
July 25-29.
Neal Bodenheimer and Kirk Estopinal, Louisiana Restaurant Association members, have been selected as co-ambassadors for Tales of the Cocktail, which celebrates its 10th Anniversary July 25-29 in New Orleans. Bodenheimer and Estopinal own Cure and Bellocq and have developed a national reputation for creating world-class craft cocktails and are consistently mentioned as owning one of the country’s best bars.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized by Tales as a co-ambassador,” said Bodenheimer. “It’s exciting for us to be at the center of the craft cocktail revitalization as natives of New Orleans.” 
Cure was one of the first businesses to invest in the now vibrant Freret Street corridor in New Orleans, which in a few short years, has become home to numerous restaurants and businesses. The duo’s success with Cure prompted them to open their second venture, Bellocq, located in the Hotel Modern in Lee Circle.

Inspired by the photographer’s
gripping images of a pre-prohibition
sexual revolution, Bellocq
is a new cocktail lounge
 located in
The Hotel Modern New Orleans.
“The making of a perfect cocktail for us is based on fresh ingredients, quality spirits and properly measured contents,” said Estopinal. “Having trained in Chicago and Neal in New York honing our craft, we are extremely proud of our city’s cocktail past, present and future.”
The pair’s cocktail philosophy can be explained in one word—balance. Consistently, the two explore new flavor combinations and with nearly 1,000 spirits on hand, they have a massive collection in which to experiment. When Estopinal’s grandfather passed a few years ago, he inherited his spirits collection which included liquors that are no longer available, some of which line the entrance to the former fire house they converted to Cure.

“I started my hospitality career on the culinary side and an opportunity presented itself to move to cocktails,” said Estopinal. “The culinary aspect of the cocktail craft is what I most enjoy. Being behind the bar, I have face time with the clientele which is important to me. I can see right away if I’ve made the patron happy.” 
Tales of the Cocktail presents a challenge in balancing work and pleasure. They look forward to hosting their industry friends and would like to catch a seminar or tasting event, but owning two establishments that cocktail enthusiasts and industry professionals will certainly stop in at during the five days will mean very little rest for them.
Kevin Brauch was the first ambassador
of Tales of the Cocktail
“We really look forward to Tales, although it is our busiest week of the year,” said Bodenheimer. “With two locations, we are going to be busier than in previous years.”
As Tales of the Cocktail Ambassadors, they join a class of industry professionals like Kevin Brauch of the Thirsty Traveler; Robert Hess, co-founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail; Wendy Waren, VP of Communications for the LRA; and LRA Past Chair Dickie Brennan and business partner Steve Pettus of Dickie Brennan & Co.
"A favorite feature among Tales of the Cocktail attendees is the highly-regarded Thursday night Spirited Dinner series," said Tales Founder Ann Tuennerman. "Leading New Orleans chefs design creative menus inspired by leading brands and the dinners include guest historians, brand owners, developers and mixologists which brings guests a truly one-of-a-kind experience centered around cocktails, cuisine and conversation."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Restaurant job growth outpaces overall job growth rate 2 to 1

New analysis by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) shows that the restaurant industry continues to serve as a leading creator of jobs, outpacing overall U.S. employment growth.

In the 12 months ending June 2012, eating and drinking place employment jumped 2.7 percent, more than double the 1.3 percent increase in total U.S. employment during the same period. Restaurants added a net 116,000 positions in the first half of 2012.

Overall, restaurants have added more than 575,000 jobs since the employment recovery began in March 2010, with current industry staffing levels standing 193,000 jobs above the pre-recession peak. Restaurant industry job growth slowed along with the rest of the economy during the second quarter of 2012, but remains a net contributor to the economic recovery.

“While restaurant industry job growth is not immune to the ups and downs of the overall economy, our industry has continually been at the forefront of job creation for the last two years,” said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association.

Nearly 13 million people - almost 10 percent of the U.S. workforce - are employed in the nation’s restaurant industry making it the second largest private sector employer in the country. One in every 22 people in Louisiana is employed in its restaurant industry for a total of 200,000 individuals.

“In Louisiana, the restaurant industry is the largest private sector employer,” said Stan Harris, President/CEO, Louisiana Restaurant Association. “The correlation between the opportunities that exist for rewarding careers in our industry and our love of our world-renowned cuisine is evident in the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s projection that we’ll add another 17,400 positions in the next decade.”

This year, Louisiana’s annual sales are expected to top $6.5 billion, up a modest 1.5 percent from 2011’s $6.2 billion.
“Restaurant industry sales are gaining for the third consecutive year, spurring the nation’s nearly one million restaurants to staff up to meet the increasing demand for away-from-home meals. This illustrates the strength and resilience of our industry, as well as the wealth of opportunity it offers,” Sweeney added.
The NRA projects that restaurant industry sales will exceed $632 billion this year, a 3.5 percent increase over 2011 sales. This is the third consecutive year that industry sales will post real gains, driven by moderate improvements in consumer’s disposable income and gradual release of pent-up demand for restaurant visits. One out of three (33 percent) Americans say they are not dining out as often as they would like, down from two out of five (40 percent) just one year ago. As the industry grows, so does its need for labor, and the restaurant industry is one of the most labor intensive industries in the United States.
According to the NRA’s latest monthly Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey (June 2012), restaurant operators continue to plan for staffing increases in the second half of 2012. Twenty percent of restaurant operators plan to increase staffing levels in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), while only 8 percent said they expect to reduce staffing levels in six months. Seventy-two percent of operators said they expect their staffing levels to remain unchanged through the end of the year.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Water is “key” to your productivity

It is amazing how, as temperatures soar into the high 90s, the statement, “It’s hot outside,” has replaced the polite greeting of, “how are you doing today?” How much water you drink during these heat surges can significantly impact your physical and mental wellbeing. You don’t have to be exercising or even sweating to need or benefit from a healthy sized glass of H2O.

According to National Restaurant Association nutritionist Dr. Joy Dubost, the average man should consume 16 cups of fluids each day, while a woman should consume 12 cups of fluid daily. Dubost shared that water is also found in the foods we eat like fruits and vegetables.
“If you are exercising for an hour or more, drinking a sports beverage with electrolytes is recommended,” Dubost added in the video above. “If you exercise for an hour of less, water will suffice.”

In the list of basic human needs, water tops the list. A person can live for three to five days without any water, and three to four weeks without food, so that fact shows the importance of water to one’s bodily functions and, in turn, productivity.
Gathering around the water cooler has come to refer to the spread of gossip in the workplace. However, the phrase interestingly gained its meaning by the fact that companies provided coolers to assist with employee productivity.

Dehydration can cause headaches and weakness especially if undergoing physical work and even if you are working in an office environment. An average human brain is made up of 90 percent water, while the entire body can contain anywhere from 55 to 78 percent water.
In addition to staying alert, drinking water has numerous other benefits. If you are seeking to lose weight, water will help reduce your appetite, flush out toxins and assist with breaking down fat in your body.  Want to look younger? Drink more water, as the liquid increases your skins elasticity and acts as a moisturizer. Water relieves fatigue, regulates body temperature and helps ward off sickness and even cramps and sprains.

Are you not feeling productive? Drink a glass of water, several times throughout your day.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pop up Pop Shop!

In June, a pop up bar called The Pop Shop, debuted at the newly opened St. Lawrence in the French Quarter. The invitation promised homage to classic 1950s soda shops, while also exploring the current trend of carbonating cocktails.

The Pop Up restaurant trend has prompted
local bartending professionals to adapt
the concept to Pop Up cocktail bars.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by Steve Yamado, of R’evolution and one of the talents behind the Alchemy Lounge, along with his business partner Sam Kane of Victory Bar. In keeping with the soda shop theme, Yamado donned a white paper hat, black bow tie and white short sleeved oxford.
There were six bottled soda cocktails and each one was delicious in its own right. Chris Hannah of Arnaud’s French 75 made the bottled 7-UP, which was described as a truly modern mojito. Highly ironic given that Hannah hates mojitos, not for their taste, but the sound of the word mojito. Despite his dislike for the word, Hannah made a delicious and refreshing one.

"The concept for the Pop Shop was a fun and creative idea," said Ann Tuennerman, founder of Tales of the Cocktail, a five-day spirits festival which kicks off July 25 in New Orleans. "It's great to see young, talented bartending professionals making a statement in the craft cocktail community."

Another drink was the Grape Soda, which was made with bourbon, sweet vermouth, grape syrup and lime.

“The idea to do a pop up cocktail bar was in following with the pop up restaurant trend, which is becoming more popular in New Orleans,” said Kane. “We hope to get guests that may not have necessarily visited a craft cocktail bar.”
Creativity is synonomous with Tales of the Cocktail,
which celebrates its 10th Anniversary during the
kick off, July 25 in New Orleans.

Yamado and Kane’s Alchemy Lounge has been popping up in neighborhood restaurants from time to time and the word is spread through Facebook invites and from person to person in the know.
“Ultimately, I’d love to have my own bar, with my own liquor license and have the ability to order whatever liqueurs I want to serve,” said Yamado. “But for today, I’m enjoying working at R’evolution and doing the Alchemy Lounge project at private parties and special events.”

Tales of the Cocktail offers countless educational seminars aimed to inform and inspire industry professionals, bartending professionals and restaurateurs through a track of seminars including: From Cocktail Napkin to Cocktail Bar: Open your own bar; The Ups and Downs of Running Multiple Venues; Building a World Class Bar Team and many others.