Friday, June 28, 2013

Come spend the weekend with the LRA August 3-5!

The LRA's 60th Annual Louisiana Foodservice and Hospitality EXPO is just 36 days away and we’ve got a room for you! The Headquarter Hotel—the Hilton New Orleans Riverside—has a block of rooms reserved just for EXPO attendees.
The Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO's
Headquarter Hotel offers attendees a special $94 room rate.

The deadline for THE place to lay your head is approaching. Make your reservation by July 10, 2013 and mention the LRA EXPO to receive your exclusive $94 per night rate, single or double. Call (504) 561-0500 or make your reservation online here.

Just steps away from the French Quarter, the Convention Center and Julia Street, you’ll be in the heart of the action during the EXPO. You can experience the EXPO and so much more during your stay in the Crescent City. 

From the Satchmo Summer Festival to the Annual White Linen Night in the Arts District to the hottest dining spots and cocktail bars, you don’t want to waste a single minute booking your room and planning your weekend. Visit the Louisiana Restaurant Association's microsite for more ways to enjoy your stay in New Orleans!

A little business and a lot of play are in store for you during the 60th Annual Louisiana Foodservice and Hospitality EXPO!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A booming business: Baby boomers can boost your bottom line

In today’s tight economy, baby boomers are providing a boost to U.S. restaurants.

America’s 76 million boomers, born 1946-64, were responsible for 23 billion restaurant visits in 2012, accounting for $172 billion in sales, according to market research company the NPD Group. By sheer number, boomers have always played an important role in the economy. But in 2012, consumers in the 48-64 age bracket also spent more per capita than their younger counterparts, according to a recent NPD study.
Predominantly empty-nesters with disposable income, baby boomers have the means and the freedom to dine out. “Yet, this is a group of people who feel neglected,” says Bonnie Riggs, the NPD industry analyst who authored the report. “Restaurant operators have not paid enough attention to their wants and needs.” Here are some ways to reach out to this large and pivotal group.
Create a comfort zone
Keep the decibels down. Help boomers enjoy their dinner conversation by turning the background music down a notch and using design elements and materials like carpeting that reduce ambient noise.
Shine some light on the situation. Use appropriate lighting so that aging boomers can easily read the menu and enjoy their meals, says Matt Thornhill, founder of the Boomer Project, a research and consulting agency based in Richmond, Va., that focuses on baby boomers. “It doesn’t need to be bright lighting; install task lighting,” says Thornhill, who co-authored Boomer Consumer: Ten New Rules for Marketing to America’s Largest, Wealthiest and Most Influential Group.
Improve menu readability. Make sure that the fonts and color combinations allow for easy reading, says Thornhill.
Pull up a comfy chair. In the NPD survey, boomers noted that they look for comfortable restaurant seating, along with better lighting and less noise.
Give service with a smile. “Boomers really want the people serving them to be polite and friendly,” says Riggs.
Make it fun. Explore ways to make dining out entertaining, whether it be an open kitchen or a chef’s table. “This generation is used to going out to dinner as entertainment,” says Thornhill. “They see themselves a hip, cool and relevant.” Riggs adds “boomers want to stay active and be forever young.”
Strive for a balance. While boomers are an important segment, don’t overlook the younger crowd. “They’ll come in later and spend more at the bar,” says Thornhill. “Don’t shoot yourself in the right foot or the left foot.”
Put options on the menu
Offer smaller portions. “As people get older, the reality is they need less food,” says Thornhill. Boomers report they’re eating more, but smaller, restaurant meals, according to NPD.
Highlight heart-healthy options. Health-conscious boomers seek low-fat, well- balanced meals, says Riggs. Highlight freshly prepared foods with healthy cooking styles, like broiling and grilling.
Provide opportunities to indulge. While boomers report that they want healthy options, many of them also use restaurant visits to indulge, says Riggs, noting that burgers and fries are among their favorites at quickservice restaurants.
Provide promotional offers Create frequent-diner programs. “Boomers want to be rewarded for their loyalty,” says Riggs. For example, Panera Bread introduced a loyalty program with a twist a couple years ago. The MyPanera program rewards members with surprises like invitations to special events, previews and tastings, and complimentary or discounted bakery-cafe menu items. 
Give them a deal. Boomers are looking for coupons and discounts, says Riggs. Daily specials and combo-meals are also attractive to this group.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Study: Restaurants don't contribute majority of calories

The majority of Americans’ caloric intake comes from food purchases made at supermarkets, grocery- and convenience stores, a new study has found.

The study, conducted by Dr. Adam Drewnowski of the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington in Seattle on behalf of the National Restaurant Association, determined that food purchased from restaurants accounts for between 17 percent and 26 percent of Americans’ total caloric intake, based on age group.

The percentages are lower than many public-health activists have cited in urging cities and states to impose new restrictions on some restaurant foods and beverages.

Between 63 percent and 70 percent of caloric intake in the U.S. diet came from purchases made at supermarkets, grocery- and c-stores. The balance comes from school foods and other sources, the research found.

The peer-reviewed study, which was published in the Nutrition Journal, looked at the purchase locations and specific food sources of 22,852 people in the United States, including children aged 6 years to adults aged 51 years or older. The study was based on five years of data from 2003 to 2008 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES.

Dr. Joy Dubost, the NRA’s director of nutrition, said the study provides the first real in-depth analysis of the caloric intake of different age groups by specific food location and food source.

“This study really is the first to look at caloric intake from purchase location and food categories by age group,” she said. “It dispels the notion that one-third of caloric intake in this country comes from restaurant food. Depending on age, the percentage of calories from either quickservice or fullservice restaurants can be much less.”

According to the study, food intake at quickservice restaurants represented between 12.5 percent and 17.5 percent of calories, while fullservice restaurants made up between 4.7 percent and 10.4 percent. School meals provided 9.8 percent of calories for children and 5.5 percent for adolescents.

The analysis further found that sugar-sweetened beverages served at quickservice restaurants made up between 1.0 and 1.4 percent of people’s caloric intake, whereas store-sourced sugary beverages made up four times that amount.

Dubost said the finding disproves the claim by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his administration that a ban on sugar-sweetened beverages in restaurants would reduce the rising obesity rate in that city.

On June 11 a state appeals court heard arguments regarding the ban and is now considering whether to reverse a judge’s ruling last March that struck down a regulation limiting the size of sugar-sweetened beverages sold at restaurants, delis, movie theaters, stadiums and arenas, to 16 ounces.

“The data show that restaurants do not largely contribute to the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages,” Dubost said. “This will help us combat some policy initiatives that are based on myth and misperceptions, not on solid science.”

She added that the data would also help restaurateurs become more aware of which restaurant foods are the biggest contributors of calories to Americans’ diets.

“The industry as a whole has a role to play in fighting the obesity epidemic,” she said. “This data will help inform us, as we continue to try to reduce calories in the American diet.”

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Farm to Table International Symposium to complement EXPO

The inaugural Farm To Table International Symposium (F2Ti) features the brightest thought leaders and leading practitioners in the burgeoning farm-to-table movement. F2Ti will explore the cultivation, distribution, and consumption of food and drink sourced locally to globally. Topics will include farming and aquaculture, fisheries, sustainability, social and digital interactive media, food security and safety, food law and policy, food science and GMO, artisanal and slow food and drink, and fair trade. 

"We are pleased to have the inaugural Farm to Table International Symposium offered in conjunction with the Louisiana Foodservice and Hospitality EXPO," said Stan Harris, LRA President/CEO. "With our strong focus in Louisiana on locally sourced produce, seafood and other products, the symposium is a great fit for the EXPO and the restaurant and hospitality industries." 

The Symposium takes place in tandem with the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s 60th Louisiana Foodservice and Hospitality EXPO, the first weekend of August.

Former Texas Agriculture Commissioner, and longtime champion of the farm to table movement, Jim Hightower will be one of several keynote speakers.

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker and author of the book, Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go with the Flow, Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought to Be—consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses and just-plain-folks.

Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of Washington and Wall Street powers at the top.

Hightower is a modern-day Johnny Appleseed, spreading the message of progressive populism all across the American grassroots. He broadcasts daily radio commentaries that are carried in more than 150 commercial and public stations, on the web and on Radio for Peace International.


Chefs, mixologists, culinary professionals, restaurateurs, researchers, academics, policymakers, legal and financial professionals, farmers and other agricultural professionals, food and drink writers, publishers and media, slow food advocates, beverage enthusiasts, brewers, distillers, vintners, distributors, farmers markets, urban farms, nutritionists and other health professionals.  

Members of the LRA receive a 20 percent discount off registration to F2Ti by using the code LRA13. Click here for registration information and pricing.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Tales of the Cocktails offers industry education AND a lot of fun

Louisiana Restaurant Association members receive special discount.

In its 11th year, Tales of the Cocktail (TOC) boast the theme, “Drink It In!” This summer, July 17-21, 2013 in New Orleans, the industry’s most influential bartenders and spirit lovers from around the globe will drink in every ounce of cocktail knowledge and culture at the world’s premier cocktail festival.

“As is the past, the industry continues to hold back their most intriguing and exciting seminar content for TOC and this year is no exception,” said Paul G. Tuennerman, Co-Founder of TOC. “Where else but TOC can you expect to have your mind blown all night long as folks pull out every stop in an effort to entertain and delight our guests.”

Philip Duff, 2012 Spirited Award
Recipient, World's Best Presenter
Are you in the mind blowing business? Are you using your bar business to maximize your profits? There’s always more to learn and TOC is the place to literally and figuratively, Drink It In!

“Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) members are fortunate to have this five day event of educational seminars, tasting rooms, competitions and more right here at home,” said Wendy Waren, LRA VP of Communications and TOC Ambassador. “This year, Tales is offering members a discount to attend.”

Of the more than 200 events and seminars, LRA members might be particularly interested in How to Run a Successful Bar Business presented by Bar Smarts.” Back by popular demand, this updated and expanded full-day seminar will be led by Philip Duff (Spirited Awards’ World’s Best Presenter 2012) and acclaimed spirits consultant Andy Seymour, with additional panelists including Cedd Moses, Sean Muldoon, Paul Tanguay and many others. Broken down into their sessions, and attendees completing all three will receive a Certificate from Bar Smarts.
Mark Ridgwell
The School of Spirits with Mark Ridgwell package, a special four-seminar crash course dives into gin, vodka, scotch and American whiskey—four behemoths of the spirits world. Every bartender knows them, but how well? In four short days, attendees will be well on their way to mastering the big four with a School of Spirits diploma to show for it.

Each School of Spirits with Mark Ridgwell includes: Gin. A product of the Marketeer or TasteMaker?; Vodka. Spirit for Fashionistas or TasteMakers?; Scotch. A Spirit Full of Baggage or Taste?; American. In Fashion Yes, but a Match for Scotch?

“Tales of the Cocktail has something for everyone, from the veterans to the newbies to the hospitality industry,” said Ann Tuennerman, Co-Founder of TOC. “For LRA members interested in attending, a special code “LRA2013” gives members a 10 percent discount. We try to keep our prices very reasonable so this is a lagniappe.”

These seminars and so much more awaits you and your professional staff July 17-21. Visit for more information.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Renewing your Louisiana Resale Certificate

The Louisiana Resale Certificate (R-1064) is automatically issued to new taxpayers who register with LDR that are engaged in the business of selling tangible personal property. The resale certificate allows businesses to purchase items for resale without paying state sales tax. A resale certificate must be obtained for each business location. The location address must be the physical location of the business and cannot be a post office box. The resale certificate will display both the business name and location address of the taxpayer.

Effective Jan. 1, 2012, taxpayers are required to complete an application to renew their Resale Certificate. Renewal requests as well as new applications must be submitted through Louisiana Department of Revenue’s Louisiana Taxpayer Access Point (LaTAP) at

It is recommended that businesses apply for renewal of their Sales Tax Resale Certificate within 60 days of its expiration date. Please do not request a renewal of a certificate unless it is within the 60 day window allowable for renewal. A request for a renewal of a certificate that expires in more than 60 days will not be processed. Those that submit the request for renewal of a resale certificate that expires in 61 days or more must resubmit the request in the allowable time period.

Question: If a resale certificate has expired, can it still be renewed online, or must the business owner re-apply for the certificate?
Answer: Yes, but the effective date will not be back dated. If the certificate I not received within 10-15 business days, please contact the Louisiana Department of Revenue.

Question: Is there a procedure for a business to request a refund of sales tax paid on purchases for resale during the period prior to obtaining their resale certificate or during the period it was lapsed?
Answer: There is no tax relief for the period that the exemption was lapsed.

Sales Tax Resale Certificate Renewal Checklist

Please have the following records and information available before you begin the application:
  • Account numbers for all locations
  • Location and mailing addresses for all business locations
  • Current Industry type and category that will be used to determine NAICS code
  • A valid e-mail address
  • Amount of purchases you made for resale or your-"Cost of Goods Sold" for the last 2 years (consolidated filers cost of goods sold should consist of the combined purchases of all members of the consolidation.)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Take a stand and be a part of the fight against cancer

MasterCard Kicks-Off the 2013 "Dig In & Do Good" Program

This summer, MasterCard is once again supporting Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) by offering the restaurant community and their patrons an opportunity to help raise money in support of cancer research through its national marketing campaign "Dig In and Do Good."

Louisiana Restaurant Association members are encouraged to Dig In & Do Good! Taking part in the program is easy and rewarding, as all of us have a story of how cancer has impacted our family, friends or co-workers.

SU2C, a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a 501(c)3 charitable organization, raises funds to accelerate cancer research that can get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives. The program celebrated its 5th anniversary and during that time has launched 40 ground breaking clinical trials.

From July 12 to September 28, 2013, when MasterCard cardholders spend $10 or more for a meal on their card, MasterCard will donate up to $4 million to Stand Up to Cancer--one precious cent at a time.

It's easy for your restaurant to participate in this program--simply promote the program and MasterCard makes the donation! Digital and social media materials are available online at no cost. In addition to this, you can use any of the print materials by downloading and printing them yourself. To get your materials, click here.

Friday, June 14, 2013

BMI: The Bridge between Music Creators and the Businesses that Use Music

Louisiana Restaurant Association members receive a 20 percent discount of music licensing fees by paying online.

There is no doubt that music is one of the quickest and easiest ways for restaurants to establish atmosphere and ambiance. But what many restaurant owners and managers have long known is now being supported by research: Music not only establishes ambiance, it also serves as a powerful tool for driving profits.

According to the Gallup Organization, one restaurant study revealed that low-tempo music can increase per dinner party bar sales 40.9 percent, and that patrons stay 24 percent longer when slow tempo music is played. Restaurant Management Magazine reported on a test titled "The Influence of Background Music on Restaurant Patrons," which revealed sales increased 11.6 percent when up-tempo music was played during lunch. Sales increased 15.7 percent when slower tempo music was played during dinner.

Music branding—the process of compiling playlists to suit an establishment’s brand and positioning--has become an increasingly popular consulting service, with a host of companies advising establishments on the right soundtrack to drive real business results, strengthen customer loyalty and enhance the dining experience.

To facilitate and simplify the process of licensing music for their members, more and more restaurant associations are partnering with Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI)—and availing members of discounts as high as 20 percent off licensing fees.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Let the LRA SIF quote your workers' comp and start saving real money!

The Louisiana Restaurant Association has offered workers’ compensation to the foodservice and hospitality industries (and suppliers to the industry) for more than 30 years, through its Self Insurer’s Fund. This is a not for profit fund, owned by the members who participate and they share in the surplus of any unused premium in the form of annual dividends.

“Workers’ compensation is not optional, it’s mandatory in Louisiana. If you are operating without it, you’re exposed,” Stan Harris, President and CEO, Louisiana Restaurant Association. “One back injury could total a quarter of million dollars easily if the individuals’ injury is severe enough and if it requires surgery, rehabilitation, pain management, indemnity, etc. Do you have that kind of cash lying around?”

LRA SIF President/CEO
Stan Harris
To date, the LRA SIF has returned nearly $100 million to its members. The LRA SIF is one of the most successful programs of its type in the state due in large part to it only taking on risk aligned with the restaurant and hospitality industries. With an in house safety and loss prevention staff, the LRA SIF manages its claims in house to maintain the most cost effective and efficient system and provide local customer service.

“Just one example of the savings? The LRA SIF recently wrote a new policy which saved the business owner nearly $3,000 in annual premium costs,” said Harris. “That’s $250 a month towards his bottom line. That could be you.”

In the last two years, we have grown our portfolio significantly. We expanded our relationships with agencies and brokers, because many of our members requested that their policies be written as part of their overall risk management plan. We also have a team of sales professionals in the field working directly with restaurants to address their workers’ compensation needs.

Beginning in 2013, the LRA SIF lowered rates in seven key class codes, as the market has moved to significantly raise rates. If you call us today, you could be saving money on your premium in a matter of days. To get a quote, call the LRA SIF at (504) 454-2277.  


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Top 8 Reasons to Attend the EXPO

Because 8 is enough

For the 60th year, the Louisiana Restaurant Association is proud to bring you the largest, most comprehensive foodservice tradeshow in the Gulf South: the Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO. Why go? Keep reading…

8. GASCO. Some events reach the status where acronyms are enough. Celebrating its 10th year, surely the Great American Seafood Cook-Off has earned its due. Watch chefs from across the country try to beat the King or Queen of Louisiana Seafood, Cody Carroll of Hot Tails Restaurant, Saturday, August 3 in Hall J.

7. Make it a vacation. Too often we forget that we live in a state where millions of people travel to each year to experience a culture unlike any other. New Orleans is the undisputed grande dame of tourism, with more than 9 million visitors in 2012. Be in that number this year. While you aren’t on the show floor, experience the city’s finest attractions and of course, her many restaurants.

6. It’s a milestone. This year, the EXPO turns 60, and like the old wine adage goes, age only makes us better. We have some exciting and celebratory plans in store for our big birthday. Be sure to attend the Opening Ceremony on Saturday, August 3, 10:45 a.m. in the lobby of Hall I for the surprise.

5. Shuttle Service. This one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s August. It’s Louisiana. It’s hot. It will probably rain at some point, leaving the concrete in front of the New Orleans Morial Convention Center a steam bath to rival your favorite health club’s. Let us bring you back and forth to your hotel. You’re welcome.

4. New products. Every year the EXPO Department reaches out to the hottest new foodservice companies. They travel to similar tradeshows across the country, bringing back products for you. This year, the EXPO will feature 30+ new companies, ready to impress.

3. Learning opportunities. This won’t be boring, we promise. For the second consecutive year, we are hosting the IDEA ZONE, with express presentations on topics that matter to you, right now. Some are fun—wine pairings with different beef cuts. Some are more fun—sparkling wine pairings. But many are informative and crucial to doing business in today’s time—the Affordable Care Act is coming, y’all.

2. Action in the aisles. Time and time again, we hear from EXPO attendees that one of the best things about the show is catching up with old friends and business associates. The restaurant business is a social one and we give you that opportunity to not only get things done, but also swap news with your peers.

1. One-Stop Shopping. Think of the biggest mall, selling only things useful to your business. Does it hurt that there will also be lots of food to try and lots of alcoholic beverages that need quality control volunteers? It’s a rough job, but someone has to do it. Might as well be you, right?
So, what are you waiting for? Register now!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

13 pennies and 101 days

By Bill de Turk
Published in the Louisiana Restaurant Association's A La Carte magazine, Spring 2013 edition

There are far fewer distilleries here in Louisiana than a rum fan might hope for in a state that produces about 20% of America’s sugar harvest.  However, that situation is changing on an almost monthly basis these days.  Our rum Grandaddy, Celebration Distillation, has been producing Old New Orleans Rum since 1996.  And, in the last year or so, Atelier Vie and d-p distillers introduced their first spirits.  The opening of other distilleries is brewing on the horizon.

As the long, warm Louisiana weather season was just getting its start this year, and a not quite so young man’s heart started thinking about fresh, local cocktails.  So it was that I had the opportunity to chat with the lovely Beth Dantin Donner, one of the principles of d-p distillers.

The Baton Rouge native and MBA graduate had been exercising her skills in the often under-appreciated role of being a mom and running the house when, during a vacation a few years back with friends Henry and Jennifer Peltier, her husband Tom brought up the idea of running a distillery.  After brief consideration, Beth said, “We all love our spirits and we are great friends.”  After some research and considering that they all lived in Thibodaux, in the middle of vast sugar cane fields, they decided to make rum.

While not well versed in the spirit world at the time, the couples invested a great deal of time and energy to learn about the art of distillation.  As both Tom and Henry are in the medical profession, neither are strangers to detailed research.

Tom is a neurosurgeon and realizes the importance of keeping his head in the game; d-p distillers does as well, with great plenteousness in the process.  Initially getting started producing rums, of which they concoct an over-proof white as well as an aged variety, they also produce a vodka from Louisiana oryza rice which is distilled 17 times(!) and several other spirits.  The rums bear the Rougaroux name – as in the tales of the French Louisiana werewolf (also loup garou or rougarou).  Coming a few years down the line will be a reserve rum.  It needs some age on it after all. 

By the time you read this, their praline rum, 13 Pennies, should be available.  The story of lupine lunacy continues with this product’s name because the rougaroux cannot count past 12, so placing 13 objects in front of him can prevent his coming to eat you.  Also, coming soon is a gin using Louisiana satsuma peels as a unique botanical, an absinthe, and a LA 1 whiskey that is currently being aged.  The grain bill of the whiskey consists of corn, rye, rice and other ingredients to make a product unlike anything else on the market.

The over-proof Rougaroux Sunshine rum is 101 proof to match the tale that the werewolf’s curse lasts 101 days.  The Full Moon Dark is aged and bottled at the traditional 80 proof.  I think we all know about the full moon thing.

Beth stressed the importance of keeping the products as high quality and Louisiana-centric as possible, “We have such a unique culture here, it just makes sense to use the rice from Louisiana, to use the sugar cane from all around us, to use the local cane syrup that we get from right down the street.”

While chatting with Beth, I learned about her triathlon training and athletic side and inquired if that is why she was a straight vodka dinking girl.  While acknowledging that was a plus, she confirmed, “That’s one of the reasons… and because it tastes really good.”

Beth sums up the d-p distilling philosophy nicely, “We are proud to make it and we are proud it is from Louisiana.”  So check out the health benefits and good taste, of d-p distillers’ expanding line of made-in-Louisiana spirits; but, beware of the Rougaroux!

Monday, June 10, 2013

LRA hosts the 411 on Health Care Reform Series across Louisiana

Health care and the Affordable Care Act are the most important challenges facing the restaurant and hospitality industries right now. Louisiana Restaurant Association members are searching for answers and information as the requirements of the Affordable Care Act are still being determined.

Some changes are already underway, including a mandate due to take effect in early fall requiring employers to give employees notice about new government "Health Insurance Marketplaces," that are supposed to begin signing people up for 2014 health coverage starting this October.

The LRA will be heading to five Chapter areas with a panel of experts to share insight and information necessary in helping members understand what these changes will mean for their restaurant and business operations. The Presenting Sponsor of the sessions is BancorpSouth Insurance Services/Percy & Wright Insurance. UnitedHealthcare is also a sponsor of the sessions.

Monroe & NE Region
Monday, June 17, 9.-10:30 a.m.
Monroe Civic Center, Bayou Room
Co-hosted by: Monroe-West Monroe-CVB, Monroe Chamber of Commerce and Ruston Lincoln CVB.

Shreveport & Bossier City
Monday, June 17, 3-4:30 p.m.
Eldorado Casino Resort, Ballroom
Co-hosted by: Shreveport Bossier Tourist Commission, Bossier Chamber of Commerce and Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce.

Lafayette & Lake Charles area
Tuesday, June 18, 9-10:30 a.m.
City Club at River Ranch, Ballroom
Co-hosted by: Lake Charles-SW La CVB, Lafayette CVB and Jeff Davis Tourist Commission.

Baton Rouge
Tues., June 18, 2-3:30 p.m.
Hilton Capitol Center, Riverview B
Co-hosted by: Visit Baton Rouge

New Orleans, Northshore & Bayou
Wed., June 19, 10-11:30 a.m.
Crowne Plaza, Kenner, Salons 4-6
Co-hosted by: New Orleans CVB, Jefferson CVB and Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association.

Randy Spicer
VP of Health & Insurance
Services, NRA
The panelists for the sessions are: National Restaurant Association VP of Health and Insurance Services Randy Spicer, UnitedHealthcare's Senior Director of Strategic Growth Initiatives Kimberlee Vandervoorn and BancorpSouth Insurances Services/Percy & Wright Insurance VP Scott McKnight.

Kimberlee Vandervoorn
Sr. Dir. of Strategic Growth
Initiatives, UHC
Spicer is an insurance veteran and he brings an extensive background in health care and financial management, product development, underwriting and service integrations strategies within the insurance, Medicare and health care industries. He'll lead the sessions informing attendees about what the Affordable Care Act means, what it does, what you need to do and when you need to do it.

Scott McKnight, VP,
BancorpSouth Insurance
Services/Percy & Wright.
Vandervoorn leads UHC's partnership with the National Restaurant Association and the LRA and multiple other state restaurant and lodging associations. She works with the LRA to make health and wellness more affordable to Louisiana's hospitality industry and craft solutions to help business owners comply with the Affordable Care Act.

Finally, McKnight will provide answers to specific questions from attendees and be on hand following the session to speak directly with attendees on their needs regarding health coverage.

To RSVP, please contact Denise Schmidt at (504) 454-2277 or email

Friday, June 7, 2013

"Dad's favorite" leads restaurant choices on Father's Day

Father’s Day is the third most popular holiday on which to dine out (after Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day), and the National Restaurant Association projects that more than 50 million Americans will dine at a restaurant on June 16.
NRA research shows that dinner will be the most popular meal time on Father’s Day, with 67 percent of celebrants choosing to dine out for an evening meal;  24 percent go out for lunch, 10 percent for brunch, and 11 percent for breakfast. In addition, 10 percent of Father’s Day diners go out for more than one restaurant meal.

In addition, consumers say the most important factor for choosing a restaurant for their special Father’s Day meal is dad’s favorite restaurant, regardless of specials (60 percent). Only 6 percent of Father’s Day diners say they choose a restaurant with specific Father’s Day food and drink specials, and 15 percent choose a restaurant that is kid-friendly; 13 percent choose a restaurant that dad hasn’t been to before.

The National Restaurant Association surveyed 1,000 adults about Father’s Day dining in 2011. The estimate of more than 50 million adults dining out this Father’s Day is based on economic analysis and projections, as well as research conducted over the last two decades.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

EXPO 2013 is 57 days away! Are you registered to attend?

It’s the most exciting time of year for the Louisiana Restaurant Association! In New Orleans, August 3-5, thousands of restaurant owners, general managers, hoteliers and foodservice operators will convene at the Convention Center to see the latest, greatest innovations in cuisine, products and services designed to make you a more profitable operator. 

The 60th Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO theme is "A Toast to Talent" and honors all the creative individuals that contribute to the stature and positive image of Louisiana’s culinary industry. Join the LRA for the Opening Ceremony, Saturday, August 3 at 10:30 a.m. in Hall I and meet the LRA’s Restaurateur of the Year and share in a champagne toast as we kickoff the EXPO.

Chef Cody Carroll of Hot Tails
Restaurant in New Roads represents
Louisiana in the Great American
Seafood Cookoff August 3 at
the Louisiana Foodservice
& Hospitality EXPO.

Following the kick off, you can parade through the show behind a marching band over to the Great American Seafood Cookoff, where chefs from more than a dozen states will compete for the title of King or Queen of American Seafood.  This year, Louisiana’s chef is Cody Carroll from Hot Tails Restaurant in New Roads.

Don’t lose yourself in the excitement on day one and be sure to pace yourself, as there’s so much to see an do. The Idea Zone is back and in its second year, will feature an exciting line up of express presentations.

“The foodservice business is ever-changing and we want to help you stay current with up-to-date information on emerging trends, best business practices and professional development,” said Stan Harris, President/CEO, LRA.

From the Affordable Care Act and what it means to you to perfect pairings of beef and wine, how to build guest loyalty and getting the best from your staff to what you need to know about gluten-free menus, the IDEA Zone is where you’ll exchange experiences and make meaningful connections with your peers.

“The EXPO is focused on the culinary professionals, people working in restaurants looking for efficiency,” added Harris. “If you are an owner looking for new ideas on ways to market or manage their business and improve their profitability, the EXPO is the place to be.”

Register today!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

LRA Chair David Hearn on Advocacy Basics

Advocacy is the most important aspect of your Louisiana Restaurant Association membership and is often taken for granted by many of us. The arenas of LRA advocacy range from federal, state and local lawmakers to regulators and agencies that impact our industry in some way. The LRA weighs in on issues of education, food safety and sanitation, alcohol issues and training, workforce development, workers’ compensation, healthcare, taxes, tourism and seafood, and many others.

David Hearn is the owner of Catfish
Cabin in Monroe and the 2013
LRA Chair.
Becoming the best advocate for ourselves and our industry is the key to maximizing our relationships in an effort to minimize further burdens to our businesses. Here are 10 points to consider when you are advocating on any issue, with any group, personal or professional.  
1.       Research the issue.
2.       Understand both sides of the issue.
3.       Get your story straight. Organize your thoughts.
4.       Brevity is always better.
5.       Be Polite.
6.       Say thank you.
7.       Never, ever make up an answer. “I don’t know” is acceptable. Let me find out and get back to you is better!
8.       Trust your champion.
9.       Patience. It should be hard to make a law.
10.   Understand that everyone wants what they want.

The LRA is able to maintain its various advocacy activities year around, primarily due to our members’ contributions to the Hospitality Political Action Committee (Hospitality PAC). These funds are used to support candidates and seated legislators that are pro-business and sensitive to the needs, issues and concerns of Louisiana’s restaurant industry.

Monday, June 3, 2013

LRA named 2013 Innovator of the Year for PAC the Bus event

In 2012, the Restaurant PAC had a big year—raising more than $670,000. During the NRA Public Affairs Conference, PAC Vice Chair Carl Sobocinski remarked that the Restaurant PAC’s success in 2012 was due in large part by the aggressive and creative fundraising efforts of the people working at the ground level.

“Every year the NRA looks to highlight and thank those states that went above and beyond to raise funds for the Restaurant PAC,” said Caitlin Donahue, NRA Director of Political Development. “This year, we recognized the Louisiana Restaurant Association for their fun and innovative approach to fundraising at their show. They invited members to 'PAC the Bus' and enjoy a brief respite from the show floor with massages and specialty cocktails. It’s this type of creativity that will bring the Restaurant PAC to the next level.”
LRA At Large Director Katy Casbarian accepted the award on behalf of the members of the LRA.