Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Credit card rule changes: More to surcharging than meets the eye

Visa and MasterCard are sounding the alarm that America’s businesses are going to start tacking on millions of dollars in surcharges in coming months for guests who pay by credit card.

But the National Restaurant Association thinks that’s a tactic to draw attention away from the real issue: The fact that card companies have a stranglehold on merchant swipe fees and don’t want American consumers to know that they’re already paying billions of dollars in hidden swipe fees. These are fees that America’s small businesses can’t control or negotiate, and that keep climbing year after year.

In a narrow-margin business like restaurants, every penny counts. America’s nearly 1 million operators do their best every day to keep prices low and value high for their guests.

Few restaurant guests know that card fees are one of the five fastest-growing expenses for restaurants, even as technology brings down the costs of processing. These costs get passed along to everyone who dines at a restaurant.

The NRA hasn't seen signs that many restaurants are looking at surcharges in the wake of recent rule changes from Visa and MasterCard allowing such charges. (But if you’re a restaurateur thinking about surcharges, here’s a caution: The card companies’ new rules that took effect Jan. 27 are complicated.
Know the fine print before you move forward.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

LRA Education Foundation Announces 2013 Leadership

Board of Directors to guide Foundation’s mission in the new year

The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) is pleased to announce its 2013 Board of Directors, which will oversee the goals and mission of the LRAEF.

The LRAEF, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, is the philanthropic arm of the Louisiana Restaurant Association and exists to enhance our community through expanded educational and career opportunities, the formation of strategic partnerships and the elevation of the restaurant industry’s professional standards and practices.

The Board of Directors is also responsible for distributing the LRAEF’s scholarship funds that it gifts annually to students pursuing a culinary education. Since 2011, the LRAEF Scholarship Fund has awarded $80,000.

The new members 2013 LRAEF Board of Directors are:

  • Dwight Barnes is the Director of Public Relations at Crescent Crown Distributing in New Orleans. The company has been a member of the LRA more than 10 years and Barnes is a very active member of the Greater New Orleans Chapter.
  • Lucien Gunter is CEO of Acme Oyster House, with locations in Louisiana and Florida. The restaurant has been a member since 1987 and its employees, including Gunter, have volunteered countless hours to many LRA chapters, while serving in leadership roles.
  • Octavio Mantilla is a co-owner of the establishments within the Besh Restaurant Group, based in New Orleans, the oldest being Restaurant August, which has been an LRA member since it opened in 2001. Mantilla is also a GNO Board member and the chapter’s 2nd Vice President.
  • Peter Sclafani is Chef and owner of Ruffino’s Italian Restaurant in Baton Rouge. His restaurant has been an LRA member for three years and in that time, he has been a tireless mentor to ProStart® students in the Baton Rouge area. Sclafani is also a Greater Baton Rouge Chapter Board member and is currently serving as its Vice President.
They are joining current members:

  • Fabian Castillo, Chair- La Casa del Sol, Houma
  • Helen LeBourgeois, Vice Chair- TLC Linen Services, New Orleans
  • Lenny Raymond, Secretary/Treasurer- Reinhart Foodservice, Harahan
  • John Eastman, Past Chair- Auto-Chlor Services, Jefferson
  • David Hearn, LRA Chair- Catfish Cabin, Monroe
  • Donna Stephenson- ATMOS Energy, Monroe
  • Dr. Yvette Green, University of New Orleans (Industry Representative)
“The LRAEF is excited to begin another great year with our dedicated board members,” said LRAEF Executive Director Alice Glenn. “Our directors volunteer countless hours throughout their tenure to the advancement of the Foundation and we are so very grateful.”

The Louisiana ProStart program is grateful to its partners: Diamond- Auto-Chlor Services and the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation; Platinum- Performance Foodservice Caro; and Gold- Louisiana Culinary Institute, Ocean Conservancy and Atmos Energy.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Putting our best foot forward for Super Bowl in New Orleans

By Wendy Waren, VP of Communications, Louisiana Restaurant Association

We are just a few weeks out from hosting our 10th NFL Super Bowl in New Orleans in between two weeks of Mardi Gras—the largest free show in the world! The best that New Orleans has to offer—cuisine, music, food and fun—will be on the world stage, which is priceless exposure for our industry. 

The economic impact of 2013 Mardi Gras and Super Bowl XLVII is projected to near $1 billion. In short order, the City of New Orleans will host more than 1 million visitors giving us the opportunity to overwhelm them with the southern hospitality we are known for the world over.

Another benefit to hosting the Super Bowl is the $1 billion in capital improvements that have been made which include necessary repairs to streets, sidewalks and lighting, among others. The Disney Institute will hold Customer Service Training Sessions for front line staff and managers and supervisors on Jan. 22 and 23 in preparation of the onslaught of Super Bowl visitors.

There are more credentialed media coming to New Orleans for the Super Bowl than any other in history—nearly 6,000. The media will be dining in our restaurants, exploring our famous streets and attractions while here to cover the big game, but also looking for those stories that make New Orleans unique and authentic.
Coverage is already kicking up that some restaurants have signs posted in their windows with a photo of the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell with the text, Do Not Serve This Man. The Commissioner is extremely influential in the selection of future host cities for the Super Bowl. Regardless of how you feel, the city’s reputation is so much more important. If you have one of these signs in the window, please consider removing it. There’s always next season to settle our differences and we’ll do it on the field.

This morning I was interviewed by WWL Radio's Tommy Tucker about the negativity surrounding the Saints' assessed penalties by the NFL and Commissioner Goodell's role in them and the possibility of the Atlanta Falcons playing in the big game.

We need to be the people we were when the Saints won the Super Bowl, when Drew Brees held his son in the air as the confetti fell and many of us cried tears of joy. It's important to show our pride, our resilency and our joie de vive for the whole world to see.
This is an opportunity of a lifetime for our industry to throw the biggest party paired with the one of the largest sporting events in the world! It’s important to our growth, future and our bottom lines that we put our best foot forward.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Customers still seek value when dining out

When dining out, budget-conscious consumers continue to expect the best value for their money, the National Restaurant Association's 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast has found.

Among operators polled, nine out of 10 said their customers were more value-conscious today than they were two years ago.

Hudson Riehle, Sr. VP
of the NRA's Research
& Knowledge Center
Furthermore, 79 percent of consumers questioned for the report's 2012 National Household Survey said they would consider dining out more often if menu prices were lower during off-peak times. In addition, a slightly higher proportion of frequent quick-service users and takeout dinner customers also said they might go out more often if prices were lower during off-peak periods.

"Offering reduced prices during off-peak meal times is potentially a good way to offer additional value to existing and new customers," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA's Research & Knowledge Center. "The ability for restaurant operators to shift some current as well as new customers to slower times of the day and week is a well-established practice in other consumer driven industries. In the years ahead, and aided by new technologies, more restaurateurs will consider and offer enhanced value propositions at nontraditional times."

Still, the operators surveyed had mixed opinions regarding whether off-peak dining at lower prices would become a trend. Approximately 60 percent of full-service operators said they thought it would, while just 39 percent of fast-casual and 33 percent of quick-service operators thought the trend would gain in popularity.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

LRA announces its 2013 Chapter Leaders

The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) is proud to announce the presidents that will lead its membership in 2013. The LRA is comprised of nine chapters across the state, each representing a Major Metropolitan Area (MMA). Every year, the chapters’ board of directors elects a restaurant owner in its ranks to serve as president. This year’s leaders, who volunteer their time and efforts at the highest level, are charged with localizing the overall LRA member experience and cultivating opportunities for growth within the association.

Each chapter is responsible for at least one major fundraiser to contribute to two of the LRA’s most important initiatives: HospitalityPAC, the association’s political action committee that supports those Louisiana-elected officials who understand the importance of the restaurant industry and the LRA Education Foundation, the philanthropic arm that exists to enhance the community through expanded educational and career opportunities.

The 2013 LRA Chapter Presidents are:

Acadiana Chapter (MMA-Lafayette): Gerard Baudoin of Mr. Keet’s in Maurice. Baudoin has been an LRA member since 2003; an Acadiana Chapter board member since 2008. This is his second consecutive term as chapter president. Major fundraiser: 52 Weeks of Dining

Bayou Chapter (MMA-Houma/Thibodaux): Randy Barrios of Flanagan’s Creative Food & Drink in Thibodaux. Barrios has been an LRA member since 1993. Major fundraiser: Dine Around Raffle

Cenla Chapter (MMA-Alexandria): Johnny Scalisi of Texas Roadhouse in Alexandria. Scalisi has been an LRA member since 2009, and joined the Cenla board that same year. This is his second consecutive term as chapter president. Major fundraiser: Taste of Mardi Gras
Greater Baton Rouge Chapter: Ryan Nizzo of Last In Concepts/Walk-On’s Bistreaux in Baton Rouge. Nizzo has been an LRA member since 2008 and a Greater Baton Rouge board member since 2009. This is his second consecutive term as chapter president. Major fundraisers: Annual Silent Auction and Capitol City Classic Golf Tournament
Greater New Orleans Chapter: Paul Rotner of Acme Oyster House in Metairie. Rotner has been a LRA member for eight years. He previously served on the Greater New Orleans board in the 1990s and began his second stint in 2008. In 2011, Rotner was elected to the LRA State Board of Directors. Major fundraiser: GNO Chapter Golf Tournament
Northeast Chapter (MMA-Monroe): Robert Wilson of Tummy Yummy Creations in West Monroe. Wilson has been an LRA member since 2005 and a Northeast board member since 2009. This is his second consecutive term as chapter president. Major fundraiser: Culinary Tour of Northeast Louisiana Coupon Booklets
Northshore Chapter (MMA-Mandeville/Covington): Jake Palmer of Acme Oyster House in Covington. He has been an LRA member for five years and has served on the Northshore board since 2009. Palmer previously served as chapter president in 2011. Major fundraiser: Ultimate Dining Experience
Northwest Chapter (MMA-Shreveport): Emily Murrell Gates of Monjunis in Shreveport. Gates has been an LRA member since 1998 and has served on the Northwest board since 2010. Major fundraisers: Northwest Chapter Golf Tournament and Annual Clay Shoot
Southwest Chapter (MMA-Lake Charles): Dave Evans of Luna Bar and Grill in Lake Charles. He has been an LRA member since 2006 and has served on the chapter’s board since 2010. Major fundraiser: Southwest Chapter Golf Tournament

“The LRA is only as strong as its volunteer leaders,” said LRA President & CEO Stan Harris. “This group of restaurateurs will do a great job representing their regions and the restaurant industry in the coming year.”

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Do you have a mentor? Are you a mentor?

By Wendy Waren, VP of Communications, Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA)

Wouldn’t it be an absolute dream if every LRA member had a mentor and was a mentor? Think of what we would learn about others, ourselves and our business. Consider how your outlook on your career, relationships and the world around might improve and evolve.

We have so much to learn from each other and so much wisdom to impart on someone else—no matter our experience.

I was raised by my grandparents. My grandfather owned a small business and my grandmother did his books. He was always working, even on the weekends. He was compassionate and always helped others. That work ethic and tireless commitment to being the best person he could be really set a strong example which has shaped my entire life. He was my first mentor.

Michael Gulotta is chef de cuisine at August Restaurant.
This morning, I read an interview on Swallowfood.com with New Orleans Michael Gulotta, chef de cuisine at August Restaurant. Gulotta shared how working for celebrity chef John Besh has really shaped his career and outlook on the culinary profession. The following statement really stood out to me:

“The difference between a kitchen manager and a true Chef mentor is that the latter challenges his employees to be better people, to read voraciously, to take the menu home and look up everything they don’t know, to exercise and stay healthy, to treat their teammates with respect and act with professionalism at every moment of the day, even when they are not on the clock.”

Holly Goetting is Executive
Chef at Charley G's in Lafayette.
The LRA has been telling the story of individual transformation through mentorship for a couple of years now. The cover of the Spring 2012 A La Carte magazine featured Holly Goetting who attributes her success to the power of mentorship. Many of our members like Nina Camacho with Jazzmen Rice and Tom Pyburn with Emeril’s Home Base mentor students in the LRA Education Foundation administered ProStart Program.

As we roll into 2013, surely the majority of us have let those resolutions fall away for the most part. But every day is an opportunity for us to be better than we were yesterday. Are you surrounding yourself with positive and supportive individuals? Do you foster those individuals? Do you share what you’ve learned with others who may benefit from your experiences?

Got an hour a month? Mentor a ProStart class in your area. Need a mentor? Check out a LRA Chapter meeting.

Monday, January 7, 2013

LRA Cenla Chapter presents "Taste of Mardi Gras"

Tickets on sale beginning tomorrow, January 8, 2013

The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) Cenla Chapter’s annual Carnival party, “Taste of Mardi Gras,” will be held Friday, February 8, 2013 at the Alexandria Riverfront Center, 7-9 p.m. (Special VIP seating, with reserved tables of eight available, is at 6 p.m.)

A party not to be missed, it will feature “tastes” of the best restaurants in central Louisiana, a silent auction of more than 20 packages and entertainment by the band, “Stormy,” which will perform 9-11 p.m. A cash bar will be available all evening.

“Taste of Mardi Gras has become one of Alexandria’s most anticipated events,” said LRA Cenla Chapter President Johnny Scalisi, managing partner of Texas Roadhouse in Alexandria. “It is a wonderful party the whole family can enjoy, with fantastic food and entertainment, all for great causes.”

Last year’s event boasted 40 restaurants and vendors and more than 2,000 revelers in attendance. This year, enjoy tasty creations from Texas Roadhouse, Mi Tierra, Outlaw’s and 35 other restaurants.

A portion of the proceeds from “Taste of Mardi Gras” go toward the LRA Cenla Chapter’s annual LRA Education Foundation (LRAEF) goal. The LRAEF, in turn, will use monies raised to further promote the restaurant industry as a career choice through its ProStart® program and enhance the restaurant community through expanded educational and career opportunities. The Children’s Miracle Network will also receive a portion of the proceeds.

The LRA Cenla Chapter would like to thank its generous sponsors for this year’s event: Southwest Beverage Company, Progressive Waste and GAEDA.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow, January 8, 2013, and can be purchased in advance at $20 for adults and $10 for children 10 years and younger. They can be purchased at the following locations in Alexandria:

·         Alexandria/Pineville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, 707 Second Street
·         Atwood’s Bakery, 1125 MacArthur Drive
·         Critic’s Choice, 415 Murray Street and 5208 Rue Verdun
·         Greg Baker State Farm, 3203 Masonic Drive
·         Texas Roadhouse, 1464 MacArthur Drive
At the door the night of the event, tickets increase to $25 for adults and $15 for children.

Reserved VIP Tables are also available in advance for $400, which includes reserved seating for eight, a complimentary bottle of champagne and early admittance at 6 p.m. and can be purchased at the Alexandria/Pineville Area CVB. Call (318) 442-9546 or e-mail inquire@apacvb.org. For forms to reserve your table(s), be a sponsor and/or be a vendor, visit www.LRA.org, or contact LRA Member Services Coordinator Patsy Rials at patsyr@lra.org or (318) 355-5301.

For other Alexandria Mardi Gras events, visit www.alexmardigras.com.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Fiscal deal offers some benefits to restaurateurs, NRA says

Congress's passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act has not only averted the so-called "fiscal cliff," but also tax increases for many individuals and small business owners, like restaurateurs, the National Restaurant Association said.

The fiscal bill, which President Obama signed into law Jan. 2, included a one-year extension of the 15-year tax depreciation schedule for restaurant buildings, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and the enhanced deduction for charitable food donation. The three provisions were renewed retroactive to Jan. 1, 2012, through 2013. The law also authorizes another year of the 50-percent bonus depreciation for certain equipment.

The NRA successfully led a coalition of retail and other interests pushing for inclusion of the 15- rather than 39-year depreciation schedule for restaurant improvements and new construction. The WOTC provides businesses with a credit of up to $2,400 per year for employees hired from certain hard-to-employ groups. The charitable-deduction provision ensures that smaller companies qualify for the same tax deduction as larger companies when they donate food.

"Renewing these through 2013 will, for the short term, ensure some certainty for restaurateurs," said Liz Garner, the NRA's director of commerce and entrepreneurship. "It also will give Congress time to focus on more comprehensive tax reform in 2013."

She added that "failure to renew the extenders would have meant less operating capital for restaurateurs to reinvest back into their businesses." Garner further noted that the deal would "keep many, but unfortunately not all, restaurateurs from facing higher tax burdens in a recovering economy."

In addition to renewing the business extenders, the new legislation also permanently maintains reduced 2001 and 2003 tax rates for individuals earning up to $400,000 and couples earning $450,000 annually. Income above those figures will be taxed at rates rising up to 39.6 percent.
Other provisions in the legislation include:

Estate and gift tax rules will remain close to the levels that existed during the past year with minor modifications, and will be permanent going forward. Instead of reverting to a 55-percent rate for estates of more than $1 million, as it was before 2001, the estate tax would rise to 40 percent from its 2012 level of 35 percent. The first $5 million in in individuals' assets, and $10 million per couple, will continue to be exempted.

• The tax on capital gains and dividends will be permanently set at 20 percent for those with income above the $400,000/$450,000 threshold. It will remain at 15 percent for everyone else.

• The alternative minimum tax, or AMT, would be "patched" permanently as part of the deal. Because it was not originally indexed for inflation, the AMT had to be "patched" annually to prevent an increasingly large number of middle-class taxpayers from getting caught in the AMT tax system. This deal indexes AMT levels permanently.

• Some tax breaks will expire and not be renewed. In particular, the 2-percent payroll tax "holiday" for individuals, enacted as part of the several stimulus steps to help battle the recession, is not being renewed or extended. Social Security payroll tax rates will revert to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent on the first $113,700 in earnings.

• The farm bill was extended for a year, through Sept. 30, 2013, giving Congress nine months to forge a compromise on new commodity programs. The extension averts a steep increase in milk prices that would have occurred if the current law had not been extended or reformed, a result of underlying 1949 dairy price support policies.

• Certain lower-income and family tax credits will be extended for five years. They include the Earned Income Tax Credit, a tax break for workers with low to moderate wages. Unemployment insurance for long-term unemployed also is extended for one year.

• The health care law's new 3.8 percent tax on investment income for those who earn more than $250,000 a year will, for now, still go into effect in 2013. However, a significant number of Democratic senators say they agree with most Republicans that the tax increase should be eliminated.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Restaurateurs, sommeliers invited to Castilla-La Mancha wine event

Join the Louisiana Restaurant Association and Tales of the Cocktail, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., at the New Orleans Board of Trade, 316 Board of Trade Place for the Castilla-La Mancha U.S. Tour. Featuring delicious Spanish tapas, live music, complimentary valet parking and a guided seminar, this event is free to members of the restaurant, spirit and hospitality trades. Register here for your complimentary admission.

Attendees will have the opportunity to experience the wines from Don Quixote’s Spain. In the interior of Spain and surrounded by Castille and Leon, Madrid and Valencia sits Castilla-La Mancha. Made up of five provinces, Castilla-La Mancha is home to a little more than 2 million people and in recent years, an equal number of tourists journeyed to the region. Although Castilla-La Mancha is the largest swath of Spain, it only represents 4.42 percent of the country’s total population.

But who is Don Quixote? He’s the subject of The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, a novel written by Miguel de Cervantes in 1605 and is considered the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon. It regularly appears high on the list of the greatest works of fiction ever published and in a 2002 list, Don Quixote was cited as the “best literary work ever written.”

The main character, Alonso Quijano, is a Spanish nobleman, or hidalgo, who reads so many chivalric novels full of medieval romance stories, knights, castles and jousts, that they take over his reality and he begins to dress as a knight. Seeking to set out on an adventure to restore all things chivalrous, he enlists a simple farmer (his squire) and sets out to fight perceived foes, both real and imagined in the name of his ladylove who stands for purity and perfection.

Wine produced in Castilla-La Mancha now print the bust of Don Quixote with the words, “Vinos de la Espana de Don Quixote” on the bottles. Nearly two thirds of Spain’s vineyards (600) are located in the 30,000 square miles of the hot, dry area of open plains of Castilla-La Mancha and these wines are growing in popularity and are being exported around the world.

If the wines of Castilla-La Mancha are as rich as Don Quixote’s imagination, no doubt we’re in for a delicious treat.


Making sense out of music licensing

There’s not a week that goes by at the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) that we don’t get a few calls from members asking about music licensing. The most common questions are if they have to pay to “license” the music they play. They ask, “Do I really have to pay license fees on the music I am playing in my establishment?” Typically, the answer is “yes.” The following will help put the issue into perspective.

Q. Why should I pay for playing music to the public? Legally, a piece of music belongs to the composer who created it and to the music publisher who markets it. When you use other people’s property, you have to ask their permission to do so.

Q. What is a “public performance” of music and what is the “performing right?” A “public performance” is a performance that occurs in a public place or in any other place where people gather (other than a small circle of a family or acquaintances). A public performance is also one that is transmitted to the public; for example, radio or television broadcasts, music-on-hold, cable television or by the internet. Generally, those who publicly perform music must obtain permission to do so from either the owner of the music or his or her representative.

Q. If musicians are playing live music, aren’t they responsible for paying the public performance fees? People mistakenly assume that musicians and entertainers must obtain licenses to perform copyrighted music or that the business where the music is performed can shift that responsibility to the performers. The law says that all of those who participate in, or are responsible for, the performance are legally responsible. Since it is the business owner who obtains ultimate benefit from a performance, it is the business owner who must obtain the license.  Music license fees are just one of the many costs of doing business.

Q. I’m interested in having music played in my restaurant. Do I need permission if I am only using CDs, records, tapes, radio or TV? Yes, you need permission to play CDs, records, or tapes in your establishment. Permission for radio or television transmissions in your business is not needed if the performance is by means of public presentation of TV or radio transmissions. Eating, drinking, retail and certain other establishments of a certain size may play public radio and TV signals over a limited number of speakers or TVs if the reception is not further transmitted (from one room to another, for example) from the place in which it is received. No admission fee can be charged.

Q. My establishment is very small. Do I still need to pay for music licensing? You are required to get a music license if:

·         You play video games with music tracks (such as Guitar Hero)
·         Your establishment is 3,750 square feet or larger (foodservice or drinking     
            establishment), plays the radio or TV, and (has at least one of the following):
o   Has more than four TVs total, or more than four TVs in any one room
o   Has any TV with a diagonal screen size greater than 55 inches
o   Any of the audio portions of the audiovisual performance is communicated by means of more than six loudspeakers or there are four loudspeakers in any one room or adjoining outdoor space
o   There is a cover charge
o   You allow live music or open-mic performances
o   You provide a deejay to play music
o   You allow customers to play their own music devices (such as iPods) through your sound system
Q. I have one license. Doesn’t that cover all the music I play? You can—theoretically—license with just one of the three major companies (BMI, ASCAP and SESAC). But, doing so limits you to using only those titles to which that one company hold the copyrights. While each company has a repertoire of over a million pieces of music, it would be very difficult to play only the music controlled by any one of the music licensing companies. How would you even begin to keep track?

Q. Aren’t TV, cable and radio stations already licensed with BMI? The agreements for broadcasts apply to private use rather than public use. When you broadcast the radio or television in your establishment, it constitutes a “public broadcast” –a public use.
As a member of the LRA, you are eligible for a 20 percent discount on licensing services through BMI.
LRA members get:
·     10 percent discount for being a member of the LRA.
·     An additionally 10 percent discount if you pay for your music licensing through BMI’s website.
In addition to discounts on licensing by BMI, the LRA has other member value programs to help you save:
·         ServSafe food safety and sanitation courses
·         Alcohol server training (bar cards) through Louisiana’s BEST
·         Free admission to the Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO for restaurants.
·         Credit card processing through Heartland Payment Systems
For more information on the various member value programs, call the LRA at (504) 454-2277.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year

From LRA President/CEO Stan Harris

Today marks the beginning of my third year as the President/CEO of the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA). It’s remarkable how quickly the time goes and how much is and needs to be accomplished each and every day on behalf of our economically important industry. We’ve made some necessary steps to streamline the operations of both the LRA and the Self Insurer’s Fund for Workers’ Compensation (LRA SIF) in an effort to remain competitive and a viable resource for the restaurant industry.
Let the LRA SIF quote your workers' comp
coverage today! With competitive rates, free safety services
and local claims handling, give us the
chance to earn your business.

As 2013 progresses, restaurant owners are no doubt sighing in relief that the fiscal cliff has, thankfully, been avoided. When I was running restaurants, this time of year was spent making sure I had my insurance coverage in order given many policies renew at the first of the year. For the LRA SIF, this is the busiest time of the year given the number of annual policies that renew Jan. 1. If you are in need of a quote for your workers’ comp coverage, please give us a call today.

Visit the National Restaurant Association's Healthcare
Knowledge Center at healthcare.restaurant.org for what you
need to know as an operator.
There are so many things on the horizon for the restaurant industry this year. Advocacy on your behalf at the federal and state level is more important than ever with the myriad of issues still needing resolution or negotiation. Businesses will be forced to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which still leaves many questions unanswered. The LRA is already working on issues that will impact our industry as the Louisiana Legislative Fiscal Session (April 8-June 6) will almost exclusively focus on attempting to solve the state’s financial deficit. Restoring tourism funding will again be a major issue for our industry.
The LRA represents Louisiana's restaurant industry on the
Super Bowl XLVII Hospitality Subcommittee!

But on the bright side, the Louisiana restaurant industry is projected to reach $6.8 billion in annual sales this year, up slightly from 2012. With Super Bowl XLVII and its accompanying hoopla estimated to deliver a $431 million economic impact, sandwiched in between two weeks of Mardi Gras, that will be a nice boost for the Greater New Orleans hospitality industry. These events will place New Orleans on the international stage and further our efforts to attract more visitors to Louisiana.

Here’s to a prosperous, healthy and balanced year to all of us!