Thursday, September 27, 2012

New NRA program EmployeeEdge designed for your restaurant staff

Restaurant and foodservice employees, like most people, juggle the demands of work, family, friends and all that goes with it. And it’s not easy. EmployeeEdge is the National Restaurant Association’s exclusive rewards and benefits program—an industry first—created with the foodservice professional in mind.

EmployeeEdge provides an opportunity to help your employees optimize their health, wealth and happiness, which can also benefit your operation by providing affordable employee benefits and reducing payroll costs and logistics by providing a new direct deposit option.  The EmployeeEdge prepaid Discover card provides your employees with a low-cost way to manage their money. It also helps you manager yours. Employees can have their pay directly deposited to the card, providing you with a no-cost alternative to payroll cards and paper checks.

Better than a bank account, the EmployeeEdge prepaid Discover card requires no minimum balance or overdraft fees. And there’s no need for employees to pick up their paycheck. The prepaid card also includes Cash Rewards at several major retailers like AMC, CVS and Lowe’s and keeps cardholders up to date on recent transactions via text message and online.

Healthcare Discount Cards from United Healthcare is an option through the EmployeeEdge program. Employees can receive up to 50 percent off healthcare costs at the point of service and access to professionally-staffed hotlines for wellness advice.  

Also with Edge, your employees can take advantage of membership perks and discounts that make their hard-earned cash go even further. In addition, there are tools for employees to manage their money, be healthy and grow their careers in the industry.

Employee Edge is a membership card and costs $25 per year; however, the EmployeeEdge membership is waived if you have an active EmployeeEdge Prepaid Card or an EmployeeEdge Healthcare Discount Card.

When you enroll, you’ll be eligible to receive Instant Rewards and access to the Rewards Mall. By upgrading to the EmployeeEdge Prepaid Discover card to receive more benefits and rewards—including cash back.

EmployeeEdge membership is the smart, easy way to save cash and enjoy great discounts. Members will enjoy cash rewards from major merchants such as CVS, Lowe’s and Cabela’s, special travel discounts exclusive to EmployeeEdge members, and discounts from hundreds of retailers in the Rewards Mall, such as the Gap, Fashion Bug, Eddie Bauer, Payless Shoes, Dick’s Sporting Goods and The Sports Authority, Pearl Vision, Ace Hardware, Meineke and many others.

To learn more about enrollment discounts when you purchase or subsidize EmployeeEdge membership for employees, contact (855) 672-3343 or

Food Safety Month concludes, but is a year round practice for restaurateurs

This week is the final one for the annual September is National Food Safety Month awareness campaign. Although we focus on food safety during September, it is a daily practice for every restaurant. Preventing foodborne illnesses is of the utmost importance for the Louisiana Restaurant Association and for restaurants, as only one outbreak can be dire for the future of an establishment.

Week 5 of National Food Safety Month focuses on
cross-contact of food allergens to prevent illness.

We’ve explored the theme, “Be Safe, Don’t Cross Contaminate,” each week this month beginning with personal hygiene practices that prevent cross contamination. The second week’s topic was focused on proper hand washing, followed by week three with cleaning and sanitizing practices to prevent cross contamination. During week four, we discussed preventing cross contamination during storage, preparation and cooking.

During the final week of NFSM, we’ll explore a topic that is increasingly a challenge for many Americans—food allergens. A food allergen is a protein in a food or ingredient that some people are sensitive to and occur naturally. When enough of an allergen is eaten, an allergic reaction can occur. You must make sure that allergens are not transferred from food containing an allergen to the food that is to be eaten. This is called cross-contact.

Here’s how cross-contact can occur:
  • Cooking different types of food in the same fryer oil
  • Putting food on surfaces that have touched allergens
  • Not washing, rinsing and sanitizing utensils
Steps to avoid cross-contact include:
  • Wash, rinse and sanitize cookware, utensils and equipment after handling a food allergen
  • Washing your hands and change gloves before prepping food
  • Use separate fryers and cooking oils when frying food for customers with food allergies
  • Prep food for customers with food allergies in a separate area from other food
  • Label food packaged on site for retail sale. Name all major allergens on the label and follow any additional labeling requirements
Be aware of common allergy symptoms and common food allergens. The symptoms include: nausea, wheezing or shortness of breath, hives or itchy rashes, swelling of various parts of the body like the face, eyes, hands or feet, vomiting and/or diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Common food allergies include: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts such as almonds, walnuts and pecans.

Through ServSafe, a nationally-approved and recognized, good standard curriculum for food safety and sanitation, the LRA has trained thousands of restaurant and foodservice employees.

To register for a ServSafe course, click here. Classes are offered across Louisiana.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Oct. 9 deadline to register to vote in Presidential Election

By Stan Harris, LRA President and CEO
Stan Harris is the LRA President
& CEO and a former restaurateur.
On November 6, 2012, we will have the opportunity to elect our next president and the entire 435 members of Congress. In addition, 33 seats in the U.S. Senate are in play.

The right to vote is one of the freedoms that we enjoy in our nation. In order to participate, first you must be registered to vote. In Louisiana, if you haven't registered by October 9, you will miss the opportunity to have your vote count.

We have numerous challenges facing our country. We have a spending problem that has been growing our deficit faster than ever before. We have some within our government who believe the government should be more intrusive in our lives and activities. When we choose this route, the cost to provide these programs rise and they can only be funded through increased spending. Unfortunately, we don't collect enough tax revenue to cover the amount of spending commitments, so we operate with a deficit. I believe our deficit and the countries that hold U.S. debt are the biggest threat to our national security and stability.

As a nation we have fought and funded two long wars that have had dubious outcomes. Regardless of whether you believe we should have been in Iraq or Afghanistan, our Congress approved it and we've been funding these activities for more than a decade. There are costs to be borne in the human sense as well as financial ones. I remain in awe every day of the brave men and women in our armed services and the sacrifices they make to protect our freedom. Each and every one of them is an American hero!

I don't want to engage in a long political debate about which party or candidates better align with your views. Those are personal decisions. I would ask you for a bit of introspection about where you think our nation is today versus where we were four years ago. This should be one of the guiding thoughts in your candidate evaluation. We have difficult and complex issues facing our country. We have to get our spending more in line with projected revenue and further balance the expectations of what the government should and should not be paying for. All but one of the states requires a balanced budget each year. While this may be a stretch in the short run for the federal government, isn't it time we take a hard look at spending priorities? If you ran your business like the federal government does, I doubt you could sustain it for very long.

We need reasonable people to have an objective debate on how we can address so many of the revenue and tax options available to consider. The need for diplomacy in our nation’s Capitol is critical. Partisan wrangling has only brought us to positions more locked into being intransigent. It is time for leadership to design a new course for the future.

I am reminded of a speech I heard a few years ago by former British Prime Minister Lady Margaret Thatcher. When asked why bodies like the United Nations or even the U.S. Congress don't work effectively, she stated that each of these bodies seek consensus. And in her view, "Consensus is the negation on leadership." It is time for us to choose our next group of leaders. One can only hope that we choose wisely.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

LRA Baton Rouge Chapter 10th Annual Silent Auction Oct. 10

Celebrating its 10th year, the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) Greater Baton Rouge Chapter will host its annual Silent Auction, October 10, at Juban’s Restaurant. The event supports the Greater Baton Rouge Chapter’s annual fundraising goal for the LRA Education Foundation, which administers ProStart®, a two-year culinary arts and restaurant management course in 47 high schools across Louisiana. ProStart is offered in nine Baton Rouge-area high schools and is designed to attract young people to rewarding careers in the restaurant and hospitality industries.

WAFB's New This Morning
Anchor Lauren Westbrook
is a celebrity server at the
LRA Baton Rouge Chapter's
10th Annual Silent Auction.
“We look forward to this event every year,” said Jeanette Eisworth, event coordinator and LRA director. “It’s a great time and benefits ProStart, a cause that is near and dear to me. These students represent our industry’s future.”

A new twist on this year’s event is the addition of celebrity servers: Matt Saurage, Chairman of the Board of Community Coffee, Brandon Landry and Jack Warner, Co-Founders of Walk On’s Bistreaux and Bar and Lauren Westbrook, Anchor of WAFB’s News This Morning, including others.

The Silent Auction items for bid are generously donated by local restaurants, spas, hotels and businesses, and include: LSU football tickets, fishing trips, gift certificates, wine baskets and much more.

The addition of a Live Auction is new this year in honor of the 10th Anniversary. Attendees can bid on a progressive wine dinner and “restaurant hop” to multiple Baton Rouge fine dining restaurants in one night for an incredible dining experience. Another exciting Live Auction item is a Mexican themed party at your home with food and margaritas by Mestizo and Serrano’s Restaurants.

Admission is $40 per person and includes dinner, registration for the Silent Auction and a complimentary glass of bubbly upon your arrival. Sponsorships are available for $600 and includes a reserved table for your group through the duration of the event, with tickets and a complimentary bottle of champagne for your enjoyment.

Sound like a fun-filled evening? Interested in attending? Call Courtney Waguespack today to get your ticket(s) at (225) 328-2163 or email

Monday, September 24, 2012

Food Safety Month, Wk.4: Preventing Cross-Contamination during Storage, Prep & Cooking

We’re now in week four of the National Food Safety Month awareness campaign, started in 1994 by the National Restaurant Association, to raise awareness of the importance of food safety. In partnership with the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA), we’ve been sharing the various ways to prevent foodborne illnesses through cross contamination each week in September. This year’s theme is, “Be Safe, Don’t Cross Contaminate.”

This week will explore how to prevent cross-contamination during storage, preparation and cooking.
Pathogens can move around easily in your home kitchen or a restaurant’s kitchen. Cross contamination can happen at almost any point in the flow of food. Knowing how and where it can happen is the key to prevention. The most basic way to prevent cross contamination is to keep raw and ready-to-eat food away each other. Here are some guidelines:
Keep all storage areas clean and dry. Food must be stored in ways that prevent cross contamination.
  • Store all items in designated storage areas
  • Store items away from walls and at least six inches off the floor
  • Store single-use items (e.g. a sleeve of single-use cups) in original packaging
  • Store food in containers intended for food that have been cleaned and sanitized
  • Use containers that are durable, leak proof, and able to be sealed or covered
  • Never use empty food containers to store chemicals, and never put food in empty chemical containers
  • Store dirty linens away from food
  • Clean dollies, carts, transporters and trays often
  • Wrap or cover food. Store raw meat, poultry and seafood separately from ready-to-eat food. Make sure packaging does not leak.
If raw and ready-to-eat food cannot be stored separately, it advisable to store ready-to-eat food above raw meat, poultry or seafood. This will prevent juices from raw food from dripping onto ready-to-eat food. Store raw meat, poultry and seafood in coolers in the following top-to-bottom order: seafood, whole cuts of beef and pork, ground meat and ground fish, who and ground poultry.

Preparation and Cooking
Use separate equipment when handling different types of food. Colored cutting boards and utensil handles are good ways to help keep equipment separate.  The color tells the food handler which equipment to use with each food time. An example is using red for raw meat and green for vegetables.
  • Prep food at different times when using the same prep table. For example, by prepping ready-to-eat food before raw food, you can minimize the chance of cross contamination.
  • Clean and sanitize work surfaces and utensils after each task. This includes thermometers.
  • Buy food that doesn’t require much prepping or handling. For example, buying chopped lettuce instead of chopping it yourself reduces the risk of cross-contamination.
This lesson is part four of a five part series. Week One's lesson was Personal Hygiene, Week Two's lesson was How to Prevent Cross-Contamination through Hand washing, and Week Three's lesson was Cleaning and Sanitizing to Prevent Cross-Contamination.
Through ServSafe, a nationally-approved and recognized, good standard curriculum for food safety and sanitation, the LRA has trained thousands of restaurant and foodservice employees.
To register for a ServSafe course, click here. Classes are offered across Louisiana.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

LRA Hosts Drive for Braithwaite Families

The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) invites members of the community to donate toiletries, cleaning supplies and paper products to the Braithwaite, La. families impacted by flooding from Hurricane Isaac. The following items are high in demand: diapers, baby wipes, toiletry items and cleaning supplies and can be delivered to the LRA office at 2700 N. Arnoult Rd. in Metairie from 5-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 27.

“When you lose everything, you don’t realize you need something until you go to use it. As soon as we get in cleaning supplies they are gone in minutes,” said Suzanne Shaffer of Team Braithwaite Foundation. “It’s a relief for the people to be able to get some items they desperately need.”

Shaffer’s husband, Jesse Sr., and son, Jesse Jr., along with other community members, led the rescue of 120 people from Isaac’s flooding in Plaquemines Parish when a levee known as “the wall” was overtopped during the storm. Jesse Jr. used technology to identify those who needed to be rescued. At one point, he had 80 texts with addresses and locations of more individuals who needed to be rescued.  

Last weekend, Lynn Oaks School, where volunteers had organized donations collected by the Team Braithwaite Foundation to be distributed, was burglarized of nearly $15,000 in items like diapers, food and cleaning supplies.

“We hope to replace the $15,000 worth of supplies stolen that was meant for the families as they recovered from Isaac,” said Wendy Waren, LRA VP of Communications. “By organizing this drive, we hope to remind people, that outside the city, there’s still a lot of people struggling and we want to do our part to help those families recover.”

This effort was inspired by LRA member Greg Reggio of the Taste Buds, which operates Zea Rotisserie & Grill and Semolina Restaurants, in advance of the “Taste Buds for Braithwaite” event, September 30. Reggio has organized similar relief events for families impacted by the 2011 tornadoes in Joplin, Mo. and Tuscaloosa, Ala. for which he was named LRA Restaurateur of the Year in 2011 and received the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Restaurant Neighbor Award earlier this year.

NRA President/CEO Dawn Sweeney remarked of the Taste Buds, “We are committed to positively enhancing the quality of life for all we serve, and philanthropic activities are an important part of this mission. The Taste Buds have provided much needed relief to communities impacted by devastating disasters last year, underscoring that restaurants are often on the front lines in emergency response.”

Following Hurricane Ike in 2008, the LRA’s Greater New Orleans Chapter members fed more than 1,200 residents of the flood-ravaged Lafitte at its Town Hall. In 2010, the LRA organized more than 20 New Orleans restaurants who fed the Grand Isle community of 300 residents following the BP Oil Spill.

LRA staff and students from Archbishop Rummel High School will be on hand next Thursday to take donations and pack them into boxes generously donated by Whole Foods Market.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cleaning & Sanitizing Practices to prevent cross-contamination, NFSM Wk. 3

Add caption
September is National Food Safety Month and the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) is covering an aspect each week of this year’s theme, “Be Safe, Don’t Cross-Contaminate.” Week three’s topic is cleaning and sanitizing practices that will prevent cross-contamination.

“No matter how carefully food is cooked, without a clean and sanitized environment, pathogens can be quickly transferred to both cooked and uncooked food,” said Pam St. Pierre, LRA VP of Member Services.
To prevent cross-contamination from surfaces, the correct cleaning and sanitized procedures must be followed. Here’s the 411 on what you need to know to prevent cross-contamination from surface areas:
September is National Food Safety Month. Whether at home
or in a restaurant kitchen, these practices can reduce
food borne illnesses.
Food-contact surfaces must be both cleaned and sanitized correctly. Cleaning means removing food and other direct from a surface, and sanitation reduces pathogens on a surface to safe levels.
  • Scrape or remove food bits from surface
  • Wash the surface
  • Rinse the surface
  • Sanitize the surface
  • Allow the surface to air-dry
All food-contact surfaces must be cleaned and sanitized after they are used; before food handlers start working with a different type of food; any time food handlers are interrupted during a task and the items being used may have been contaminated; and after four hours if items are in constant use.

During the first week of National Food Safety Month, the focus was on personal hygiene. The second week’s focus was on preventing cross-contamination through hand washing.
The National Restaurant Association and the LRA partner throughout the year to raise awareness of the importance of food safety to the restaurant industry and our diners. Through ServSafe, a nationally-approved and recognized, good standard curriculum for food safety and sanitation, the LRA has trained thousands of restaurant and foodservice employees.

To register for a ServSafe course, click here. Classes are offered across Louisiana.

Louisiana Seafood for Life Contest is Live

It’s delicious and nutritious! Louisiana seafood can be low in calories and fat, given its preparation. That’s why the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) is partnering with the Louisiana Seafood for Life campaign to encourage restaurants and chefs statewide to submit their healthy seafood recipe.  And the payoff for you can be significant.

“We take for granted the healthy benefits of Louisiana seafood,” said Ewell Smith, Executive Director of the LouisianaSeafood Promotion and Marketing Board. “Our seafood is an outstanding source of lean protein and omega—3’s.” 
Mestizo Restaurant's "Mexican Stir Fry"
is a competitor in the Louisiana Seafood
for Life contest which runs through
Nov. 31, 2012.
The Louisiana Seafood for Life contest is already live with just a dozen restaurants participating, but it’s certainly not too late for you to submit your healthy seafood option. Chefs are invited to create a healthy menu item using Louisiana seafood as the primary source of protein, then enter their recipe and information into the form here. Recipes must be under 600 calories and less than 20 grams of fat per serving.

With the bounty of Louisiana seafood – finfish, shrimp, crabs, alligator, oysters and crawfish—the opportunity for you to showcase these ingredients in a creative and good for you way can pay off big time.

By submitting your healthy Louisiana seafood menu item, you are entered in the contest. The winner is determined by the recipe with the most “likes” on Facebook, now through November 31, 2012. You can drive traffic to your recipe through your social media channels and engage your followers to support your submission.

“The recipe with the most ‘likes’ at the close of the contest will win a $10,000 to launch your own advertising campaign for your restaurant,” said Smith.

Ralph Brennan, of Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, has embraced the contest with each of his restaurants and taken health and wellness to another level. He challenged his staff to trim down at his four New Orleans area restaurants in a 90-day competition, with his personal goal set at losing 20 pounds.

Restaurateur Jim Urdiales of Mestizo Restaurant in Baton Rouge is excited to participate in the contest and generate some exposure for his six healthy menu items, which he’s been serving for two years.

“When people think of eating better, Mexican food is usually one of the first things on the list to go,” said Urdiales. “Two years ago, we developed the Mexican Stir Fry for a customer who wanted to eat better, with less butter, fried ingredients and starches. It’s been really popular.”

When he looked around at the Mexican concept landscape, none of them seemed to be capitalizing on the health menu option trend, one that made the top 20 by the National Restaurant Association since 2009. He also created a skinny margarita recipe and offers baked or wheat chips for those looking to join the fun, but watch the waist line.  

Urdiales is also an active user of social media to promote his restaurant and engage with his customers about new items, specials and events.

“This contest gives me something positive to talk to my social media followers about. I get to encourage them to vote for their favorite recipe and also share the benefits of eating Louisiana seafood that’s prepared in a healthier way,” he said.

Chef, do you have a recipe you want to submit? Here’s how.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Hospitality suite fundraiser for NRA PAC successful

A new venture to raise funds for the National Restaurant Association Political Action Committee (NRA PAC) in 2012 proved to be a good idea. Former dinners and brunches to raise funds for political advocacy at the federal level had been done several years in a row. This year, several key members of the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) leadership decided it was time for a change. Thus, PAC the Bus was born.

“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 wanted to support the advocacy of our industry in Washington and take a reprieve from the bustling activities of the EXPO Show Floor.”

PAC the Bus, a fundraiser for the NRA PAC, generated 103 percent of the LRA’s fundraising goal for 2012. During the three days of the Louisiana Foodservice and Hospitality EXPO, members were invited to enjoy, in exchange for their contribution, a hospitality suite with a twist—on a luxury Prevost tour bus, parked right on the show floor. Located between the LRA booth and the Great American Seafood Cook-Off, contributors enjoyed libations, cuisine courtesy of Centerplate and chair massages.

“The PAC the Bus idea was so fun and innovative,” said Caitlin Donahue, Director of the NRA PAC. “I attend fundraisers all over the country and this was one of the best I’ve seen. I really liked the fact that it was right there on the show floor so everyone potentially had the chance to participate.”

A special thank you goes to those Host Committee members who made PAC the Bus a success: Past NRA Chairman Ralph Brennan, NRA Emertis Board Member Greg Hamer, Brennan, and NRA Board Member Tommy Cvitanovich and 2012 LRA Chairman Melvin Rodrigue.

Sponsors of PAC the Bus included: Tony Abadie, Rob Antoon, Bruce Attinger, Jim Besselman, Katy Casbarian, Phil Faul, Stan Harris, Octavio Mantilla, Greg Reggio, Paul Rotner, Rob King, Randy Stein, Tina and Ernest Palmisano and Jim Urdiales.
The NRA PAC is a voluntary, non-partisan political action committee formed in 1977 to support and elect pro-industry and pro-business congressional candidates for federal office.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

LRA shares industry trends at America's Small Business Development Conference

Steve Pettus,
Managing Partner of
Dickie Brennan & Co.
will discuss trends
in the restaurant
industry affecting his
three French Quarter
This week, more than 1,000 consultants from America's Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) are convening in New Orleans to learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing business. As a partner with the Louisiana SBDC, the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) regularly relies on the knowledge base of these state-funded offices to provide further support to its members. 

The Gotta Come Back Restaurant Experience: Trends and Tools Used by Successful Restaurateurs panel, led by LSBDC Restaurant Specialist Dianne Sclafani, will also feature speakers such as Wendy Waren, LRA VP of Communications, Steve Pettus, Managing Partner for Dickie Brennan and Co. and Jay Nix, owner of Parkway Tavern and Bakery in New Orleans. 
“It was extremely important to me that the restaurant industry be part of the conference program,” said Sclafani. “I’ve been working with restaurants for years on developing business plans, identifying funding sources for opening or expansion and assisting them in addressing trends in the industry head on to help them become more profitable.”  
Wendy Waren, LRA VP of
Communications will
discuss three trends and
the impact on restaurants.
The discussion will focus on trends that are challenging restaurants including meeting the customer expectations, expansion into multiple products and services, and how technology will continue to shape the way restaurants operate both internally and externally. To meet these new demands, restaurateurs will need to change some of their operational activities in the areas of marketing, operations, finance and human resources. 

“Meeting these demands takes time, which is limited for the restaurateur,” said Waren. “Often times, it may result in the need to hire an interactive service business, but in independent restaurateurs may mean using family and existing staff to meet this demands or having the owner maintain these aspects in addition to other tasks.”

Waren said that the three biggest trends impacting the restaurant industry today and in the future are rising food costs, attracting millennial diners and the increase in the use of technology by consumers.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Prevent Cross-Contamination through Handwashing

September is National Food Safety Month and this year’s theme is one that we can all benefit from, whether you work in a restaurant or prepare meals at home for your family and friends. “Be Safe, Don’t Cross-Contaminate,” focuses on best practices to avoid the spread of pathogens from one food or surface to another.

“Every day our hands touch surfaces covered with pathogens that we cannot see,” said Pam St. Pierre, Louisiana Restaurant Association VP of Member Services. “Even healthy people can spread pathogens and for this reason, handwashing is the most important part of personal hygiene.”

Hands should be washed in a sink designated for handwashing, not in sinks for food prep, dishwashing or utility sinks. The proper steps to wash hands should take about 20 seconds. Here are the five steps to correctly washing your hands.

1.      Wet hands and arms. Use running water as hot as you can comfortably stand. It should be at least 100° F.

2.      Apply soap. Apply enough to build up a good lather.

3.      Scrub hands and arms vigorously. Scrub them for 10 to 15 seconds. Clean under fingernails and between fingers.

4.      Rinse hands and arms thoroughly. Use running warm water.

5.      Dry hands and arms. Use a single-use paper towel or a hand dryer. Consider using a paper towel to turn off the faucet and to open the door when exiting the room.

“While it may seem basic, food handlers must wash their hands correctly and as often as needed to prevent hands from becoming a vehicle for cross-contamination,” added St. Pierre.

Knowing when to wash your hands is also key to reducing cross-contamination. Food handlers must wash their hands before starting work and also after the following activities:
  • Using the restroom
  • Handling raw meat, poultry and seafood (before and after)
  • Touching the hair, face or body
  • Sneezing, coughing or using a tissue
  • Eating, drinking, smoking or chewing gum or tobacco
  • Handling chemicals that might affect food safety
  • Taking out garbage
  • Clearing tables or busing dirty dishes
  • Touching clothing or aprons
  • Handling money
  • Leaving and returning to the kitchen/prep area
  • Handling service animals

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the LRA partner year around to raise awareness of the importance of food safety to the restaurant industry and our diners. Through ServSafe, a nationally-approved and recognition, gold standard curriculum for food safety and sanitation, the LRA has trained thousands of restaurant and foodservice employees.

Registration for ServSafe, a food safety and sanitation course, can be done online here. Classes are offered across Louisiana.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Isaac has come and gone. Now what?

Hurricane Isaac has passed and in its wake left massive power outages and flooding to areas in Southeast Louisiana. What it meant for restaurants with no power for many days was lost profits and products. In the worst cases, flooding and wind damage, compounded with lost profits and products.

If you have yet to re-open, here are a few suggestions to get you started.
  • Write down what you need to do and secure to get your restaurant back open, even if for limited hours.
  • Determine the total amount of lost business income.
  • Identify all of your financial obligations, including suppliers, loans and pay
  • If available, gather your past year business records, sales and projected profits to build your case for what you’ve lost due to interruption.
  • Document your facility damage and your lost inventory. 
The Louisiana Restaurant Association is here to help and assist you in whatever why you need during this time of recovery. We have resources and consultants available to provide guidance as you work to regain a sense of normalcy for your business.

If you are in need of assistance to advice the local media of your status, we are able to assist in this capacity as well.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Louisiana Seafood title sponsor of second We Live to Eat Restuarant Week

The second annual We Live to Eat: Louisiana Seafood Restaurant Week features specialty cuisine from nearly 50 area eateries—from local favorites and world-renowned establishments offering both casual and fine dining fare. September 10-16, diners will have 14 chances to take advantages of the two-course lunch specials for $20 and three-course dinner offerings for $35.

During the kick off press conference Friday, Sept. 7, Louisiana Restaurant Association President/CEO Stan Harris made a special presentation to an individual who, for 40 years, has advocated for Louisiana’s seafood industry--Harlon Pearce. As the chair of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board (LSPMB) for the last 13 years and given Louisiana Seafood’s title sponsorship, there was no better time to recognize him before restaurateurs, chefs and members of the media.

“Harlon has been an integral part of the Louisiana seafood industry for more than 40 years and has been the public face of the industry during Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, Rita and Isaac and during the BP Oil Spill,” said Harris. “He has been incredibly supportive of the LRA and is a consistent and entertaining presence at the Louisiana Foodservice and Hospitality EXPO every year.”
In recognition for his 40  years of service to Louisiana's
seafood industry, LRA President/CEO Stan Harris
recognizes Harlon Pearce at the We Live to Eat:
Louisiana Seafood Restaurant Week press conference.
Establishments participating in Restaurant Week were asked to use Louisiana seafood as a main component in the appetizer or entrĂ©e portion of the specialty menus.  From Gulf shrimp, fish, oysters, crawfish, crab and even alligator, all six of the Louisiana seafood species can be found peppered throughout the decadent menus in traditional and innovative preparations.

“One restaurant is serving an Alligator Bolognese, which is not something you see every day,” said Harris. “Crab cakes, seafood gumbos, grilled fresh Gulf fish and oysters on the half shell are just some of the standouts from our great chefs.”

We Live to Eat: Louisiana Seafood Restaurant Week is recurring for the second year and is brought to the dining public by the LRA Greater New Orleans Chapter. Designed to deliver diners to restaurants during a slow period given the heat, this year’s Restaurant Week will also be a much needed reprieve for those area residents who went days without power and sadly, many of which experienced flooding in their homes due to Isaac’s storm surge.

Losing power is one thing, but having hurricane-related home damage like flooding is something beyond inconvenient,” added Harris. “We hope that those families impacted by Isaac will find themselves at a participating restaurant next week and feel a sense of normalcy and hope during the recovery period.”  

The availability of Louisiana Seafood is extremely important to New Orleans restaurants. The LRA would be remiss not to mention the fishers that were impacted by Hurricane Isaac. Given their location, some fishers were negatively impacted, while others are able to continue to bring in fresh catch for restaurants. The LSPMB is assessing the damage to the fishing industry and will keep the LRA and public informed through its website

Regardless of your reasons for dining out during Restaurant Week, our establishments look forward to hosting you, your family and friends Sept. 10-16.

Bon Appetit!

Business Recovery Centers opening for Isaac victims

The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) has many members that were impacted by Hurricane Isaac’s vicious flooding and massive power outages. We are pleased to share that the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the La. Dept. of Economic Development (LED) and the La. Small Business Development Centers (LSBDCs) are opening three centers to assist with storm related impacts to business owners. Additional centers will come on line in the next few days.

Centers are opening beginning Sept. 7
to assist businesses impact by
Hurricane Isaac.
“Some of our member restaurants were located in the areas most impacted by Hurricane Isaac,” said Stan Harris, LRA President/CEO. “These centers will provide much needed resources for the restaurant owners in areas like Manchac, Madisonville, Mandeville, LaPlace, Slidell and in Plaquemines Parish who sustained significant damage from the storm as they work to recover losses and rebuild their businesses.”  

Centers are located in Plaquemines, Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard, St. John and St. Tammany Parishes. Specialists from the SBA and LSBDCs will be available to meet individually with each business owners. SBA customer service representatives will be available to meet individually with each business owner to explain how an SBA disaster loan can help finance their recovery.

Dual Membership has many benefits!

Louisiana Restaurant Association members
are also a member of the National
Restaurant Association. Double the benefits!
As a restaurant member of the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA), you are also a member of the National Restaurant Association (NRA)—which increases your knowledge base through additional resources, tools and solutions. The NRA’s website offers an array of industry related articles, tips, facts—particularly about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will impact restaurants of all sizes.

Bread & Butter, a free, twice monthly e-newsletter is designed to increase your knowledge and provide tools to help restaurant owners succeed and prosper. Sign up today here. In the Sept. 6 issue of Bread & Butter, articles included, Why one operator shares his P&L with his employees; Use the right people and tools for prep work; Food, nonalcoholic beverage cost ratio dips in latest NRA survey; and how to stop card processing “cost creep” in its tracks.
Working in tandem, the NRA and LRA combined benefits
provide a full spectrum of tools, solutions and services
designed to help restaurants maximize their profitability.
Other available resources can be found at include NRA News, a blog containing industry specific, relevant and timely information on everything from regulatory, legislative, food safety, national trends through research and insights, sustainability and much more.  Member-only webinars on a variety of topics can be viewed in real time as they occur or even months later, as recordings and presentations are housed here.

On the LRA side, our website contains current state specific news on its home page under Association Happenings, which contains important information regarding resources available for those impacted by Hurricane Isaac. The number one reason people visit is to register for ServSafe food safety and sanitation courses and BEST Alcohol Server Training, of which the LRA is the largest training provider in the state.

Members and prospective members can find out about the LRA Self Insurer’s Fund for Workers’ Compensation, which is celebrating 30 successful years in 2012. Exclusive to restaurants, foodservice operators, bakers, florists, distributors, etc. you really should take a look at the LRA SIF for your workers’ comp policy. Offering competitive rates with up to a 15% premium discount for restaurants, free loss prevention and safety services at your site, local claims handling and now, the ability to offer coverage through your preferred insurance agent, or write your policy direct with the LRA, let us quote your coverage today.

Daily, the LRA Communications team pens original content about what’s happening in Louisiana’s restaurants, tips for success, resources available, individual success stories, food safety, and the drought’s impact on food costs and more. In addition to the website and blog, the LRA maintains an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Pinterest. This provides members and the public with up to the minute industry related information they can use.

Are you taking advantage of all your dual membership has to offer? Not a member? Call us today, (504) 454-2277, to find out more!