Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Online alcohol server training now approved in Louisiana!

Servers of alcohol in Louisiana can now
obtain their Responsible Vendor Permit
(bar card) online at
The Louisiana Restaurant Association is pleased to announce ServSafe Alcohol Online. For the first time in Louisiana, individuals can now obtain their Responsible Vendor Permit, or bar card, by completing the two-hour course online 24-7—it’s fast, convenient and state approved.

ServSafe Alcohol is a vital, practical and current responsible alcohol service training program that includes Louisiana alcohol regulations. The ServSafe Alcohol for Louisiana Online Program is approved by the Louisiana Office Alcohol & Tobacco Control and the Responsible Vendor Board. By providing practical knowledge and best-in-class resources, ServSafe Alcohol helps servers put knowledge into action when it matters most. That makes ServSafe Alcohol the smart training solution for every server and every operation.

Online Learning Benefits

Convenience. Traditional training relies on instructors presenting materials at a specific time and location. Online training enables workers to learn in the office or at home, and allows the flexibility of scheduling the training when it is most convenient.

Pace of Learning. One fundamental advantage of online training over synchronous (real time) training is that a student can learn at his own pace. Comprehension quizzes at the end of each training module test knowledge before moving on to the next module and allow students to review portions of training materials before moving on to new chapters.

Presentation. Online training courses can be supplemented by on-screen graphics, short videos, which may accelerate learning for some participants.

Consistency. One of the advantages of online training is consistency of the message. In-person training is different as trainers may deliver their material differently or adjust the course content from one session to another as they see fit. Thus, no two students are guaranteed that they will receive the exact same training.
Visit today to take your alcohol server course.

The National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe Alcohol Online Course is a convenient and easy training solution that prepares bartenders, servers, hosts, bussers, valets, bouncers and all front of the house staff to effectively and safely handle difficult situations in the operation. Knowledgeable, responsible alcohol service is a priority for every operation. That’s why ServSafe creators teamed up with experts in the beverage, foodservice, medical, insurance, legal, academic and regulatory industries to develop our comprehensive program. The online program is built by the same creators as the highly-regarded ServSafe food safety program, protecting you for nearly 40 years.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Prepare for ACA employee notification requirement with new NRA tool

Millions of American businesses and employees remain confused about the extraordinary changes that begin to unfold in the nation’s health insurance system this fall. The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) is working closely with the National Restaurant Association (NRA) to advocate for changes in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), help our members understand it, and create services and products to ease implementation challenges. The NRA’s new Health Care Reform Headquarters offers a one-stop shop for our members, including:

Knowledge Center—Get checklists, FAQs, deadlines and other details about how the health care law affects your restaurant company. Find out what you can do to get Congress to make changes to the law too.

Online Notification Tool—Use our new and free restaurant member-exclusive tool to comply with the ACA’s employee-notification requirement before the October 1 deadline.  Easily track employee notifications in your restaurant company.

Marketplace (coming soon!)The NRA Marketplace will help restaurant employers shop for ACA-compliant health insurance more cost-effectively and efficiently.

The transition relief and voluntary compliance until 2015 for employer penalties and some large-employer reporting requirements bought employers a little extra time to try to understand the law and figure out how to implement it in their operations. But the law’s challenges remain. Important responsibilities for both employers and individuals take effect—soon.

“Every employer and every individual has a responsibility under ACA,” said Wendy Waren, LRA VP of Communications. “Whether or not you meet the large employer threshold, you have a responsibility to notify your employees of the Louisiana state exchange, also known as the Health Insurance Marketplace.”

The NRA Online Notification Tool is free to restaurant members and can serve as your documentation in the event that an employee declined your coverage or didn’t obtain coverage on the exchange, and now has medical bills. If the employee can’t pay the medical bills, and during the process reveals that he wasn’t notified of the requirement for him to obtain coverage on the exchange, they could very well try to collect from you.

The LRA recently partnered with UnitedHealthcare to deliver cost-effective solutions that meet the unique needs of restaurant owners and their valued employees. Read more here. 

If you have any questions, please contact Wendy or Erica at the LRA at (504) 454-2277.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

National Food Safety Month (September) focus on Allergen Training

This year’s annual National Food Safety Month (NFSM) spotlights the increasing importance of food allergen awareness throughout the month of September. This year’s theme is “Taking Action to Avoid a Reaction,” focuses on providing consumers and restaurant personnel with the evidence-based education, training and resources needed to make restaurant dining safer for the 15 million Americans coping with food allergens.

To enhance their safety whenever they dine out, the National Restaurant Association has partnered with Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) to create greater public awareness as well as an entirely new training program for all foodservice workers—ServSafe Allergens Online Course.

“As restaurants encounter more and more individuals with specific food allergies and sensitivities, ServSafe Allergens could not have come at a better time,” said Wendy Waren, VP of Communications, Louisiana Restaurant Association. “With three co-workers that have food allergies, I’ve seen firsthand the need for restaurant staff—front and back of the house—to be trained to properly handle patrons with allergens.”

Weekly training activity areas communicate concepts clearly and quickly to employees, and can be completed in less than 10 minutes. Week 1 covers the Big 8 and Cross Contact; Week 2—Reading Labels; Week 3—Cross-Contact: Front of the House; Week 4—Purchasing and Transportation; and Week 5—Separation in Equipment and Storage.

SCA, makers of the Tork brand of away-from-home paper products, are sponsoring this year’s NFSM and will be giving away 500 certificates for individuals to receive complimentary access to the ServSafe Allergens course—100 will be awarded each week throughout September. Visit each week for details on how you can win a free course.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Third Annual We Live to Eat Restaurant Week coming in September

The Louisiana Restaurant Association’s (LRA) Greater New Orleans Chapter is excited to announce that its We Live to Eat Restaurant Week will be held September 9-15, 2013.

During this weeklong celebration of New Orleans cuisine, participating restaurants in the New Orleans metro area will offer special prix fixe menus, created especially for Restaurant Week. Restaurants will offer a two-course lunch for under $20 and a three-course dinner for under $35.

Participating restaurants range from fine-dining establishments to neighborhood favorites. Discover new places and enjoy old favorites! To check out the restaurant list and menus, visit Make your reservations early, seats fill fast.

A special thanks to 2013 We Live to Eat Restaurant Week sponsors:

Silver Spoon Sponsors: Dr. Pepper, LA Craft Beer, Rewards Network, OpenTable, WWL-TV, Offbeat Magazine, Entercom and Gambit.

Friend of We Live to Eat Sponsors: Cathead Vodka, Zatarain’s, Evamor Water, TLC Linen Services, Crystal Clear Imaging and Nola Live Magazine.
Visit for menus.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

LRA Education Foundation & Chef John Folse Culinary Institute sign articulation agreement

The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) and the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute (CJFCI) at Nicholls State University are pleased to announce they have signed an articulation agreement.

Under this agreement, Louisiana high school graduates who have successfully completed two years of a ProStart program and earned their ServSafe sanitation certificate will receive four hours of college credit toward their associate or bachelor’s degree of culinary arts at CJFCI.

ProStart is a nationwide, two-year program for high school students that develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow's industry leaders. From culinary techniques to management skills, ProStart's industry-driven curriculum provides real-world educational opportunities and builds practical skills and a foundation that will last a lifetime.

“This agreement is a win-win for the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute and the LRAEF,” said Chef Randy Cheramie, executive director of CJFCI. “Rather than sitting through our first two introductory lecture classes, students with ProStart certifications will start immediately into our skills labs, giving them a semester lead.”

The LRAEF has similar articulation agreements with other post-secondary institutions nationally/internationally and in Louisiana. It continues to seek out mutually beneficial partnerships with other post-secondary institutions in the state.

The LRAEF strives to provide opportunities for its ProStart graduates wishing to pursue culinary arts and management degrees after graduating from high school. Its Scholarship Fund, which has awarded more than $140,000 since its inception in 2009, furthers this goal by ensuring financial support is available for the state’s promising and ambitious students.

“This agreement will allow more Louisiana culinary students the opportunity to transfer easily into Nicholls and continue their education,” said LRAEF ProStart Coordinator Devienne Theriot.

The LRAEF would like to thank its Partners, whose financial assistance makes programs like ProStart a reality: 5 Diamond: Auto-Chlor Services, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Acme Oyster House and Louisiana Seafood; 4 Diamond: Performance Foodservice-Caro; 3 Diamond: Louisiana Culinary Institute, Atmos Energy, New Orleans Wine & Food Experience and Drago’s Seafood Restaurant; 1 Diamond: Entergy.  Also, the LRAEF extends special recognition to all LRA chapters that support ProStart and the LRAEF through its various philanthropic activities throughout the year.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sharing a sustainable Gulf focus of emerging coalition

Gulf residents haven’t forgotten when many of their favorite fish were in short supply and even unavailable during parts of the year. Today red snapper, a wide variety of groupers and other “reef fish” are more readily available, caught by a well-managed and increasingly sustainable commercial fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. The consumers who want to enjoy these indigenous fish species are served by the commercial fishing community.

These same fish are shared with recreational fishermen and charter fishing boats. In the Gulf of Mexico the red snapper allocation between commercial and recreational fishing is just about even (51% commercial and 49% recreational). The recreational interests have sought as the total catch increases to allocate more of it for recreational fishing. The Louisiana Restaurant Association supports today’s allocation percentages whether based on the current allowable catch or any future allocation increase.

At the Gulf Fishery Management Council meeting in June in Pensacola Chefs Haley Bittermann and Brian Landry received applause from the gathered commercial fisherman following their testimony. They both spoke in support of maintaining the equitable allocation of red snapper as it currently exists. The Council also was considering additional quota to this year’s red snapper allocation.

Gulf Fisheries Management Council member Harlon Pearce
with Chef Haley Bittermann at the June 20 Red Snapper
emergency hearing in Pensacola, FL.
“The fish in the Gulf of Mexico belongs to all of us, every person in the United States,” said Bittermann, executive chef of Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group. “Reasonable people should be able to have an engaged dialogue that can satisfactorily address the ideas of the restaurant and hospitality industries, the recreational and charter fishing industries and the commercial fishing industry.”

Bittermann believes, as does the LRA, that Gulf seafood is integral to Louisiana’s heritage and culture, and that the accessibility of these indigenous fish species provides the state’s restaurants with the opportunity to differentiate its cuisine and menu items. 
Chef Brian Landry fishes with his son, the same way he did
with is father as a child. Landry believes equitability 
between the commercial and recreational interests is of
the utmost importance to his restaurant Borgne, named
for the Louisiana lake he grew up fishing in.
“At Borgne Restaurant, we get our vegetables from Covey Rise Farms, rabbits from Arkansas and Mississippi and our fish from the Gulf of Mexico,” Landry said. “As certain fish have become less available or not available at all, like speckled trout and red fish, and if fish like snapper and grouper go, we just become any town USA. We’ll be blackening tilapia and serving fish that has nothing to do with our heritage and culture and why many people come to Louisiana.”

In July, Chefs Frank Brigtsen, Bradley McGhee, Tenney Flynn and Greg Sonnier testified in the second emergency meeting of the Council regarding red snapper allocations held in New Orleans. LRA President/CEO Stan Harris also spoke on behalf of the industry at both meetings and has been an advocate for the commercial fishing and the hospitality industry’s alliances as the needs of the consumer are met through commercial harvest.

Share the Gulf Coalition has grown from the effort of the restaurant industry to support the commercial fishing industry which supplies establishments with consumer-demanded fish species. The LRA believes by sharing this resource responsibly, the desires of all the interested parties can be met.

Currently there are some interests working to tilt the allocation of the red snapper fishery more to the recreational fishermen. As an industry, we cannot support this modification. These changes if approved would hurt these family-owned small commercial fishing businesses across the Gulf who rely on access to the fishery to earn their living. In turn the impact of any allocation restructuring would be felt on the tables of our restaurants resulting in some items disappearing from menus and dinner tables across the country.

It’s happened before as Landry mentioned. In the 1980s commercial fishermen were cut out of the Gulf red drum and speckled trout fisheries. The issue surrounding who can catch how much snapper is fundamentally one of fairness. The Gulf’s recreational fishermen catch eighty percent of the most popular fish in the Gulf, including overwhelming majorities of amberjack, red drum, speckled trout, king mackerel and triggerfish.

What can you do? The Share the Gulf Coalition includes chefs, restaurateurs, restaurant associations, seafood businesses, supermarkets, fishermen and local food advocates engaged in a public campaign to draw attention to the movement to reserve Gulf of Mexico red snapper and other reef fish for recreational anglers at the expense of American seafood businesses and consumers.

“Members of Congress, our Gulf state governors, the Gulf Council and the federal and state fishery agencies must hear from the chefs and restaurateurs about the need for fair allocations on behalf of the American consumer and the businesses our industry partners with for supply.” said Harris. “The coalition will press decision-makers to keep sustainably caught Gulf seafood on the table for the millions of Americans who don’t fish or own their own boat. "

Join the coalition here.

Friday, August 16, 2013

NRA's Manage My Restaurant tool to assist operators

Did you know? If you are a Louisiana Restaurant Association restaurant member, you are also a member of the National Restaurant Association!

The National Restaurant Association launched the online resource—Manage My Restaurant—to help you make your business better. Whether you are trying to drive traffic, learn about the latest culinary trends, recruit qualified employees or renegotiate your lease, the Manage My Restaurant tool has you covered.

The resource is divided into four categories: Marketing & Sales, Workforce Engagement, Food & Nutrition and Operations. Recent articles include: Marketing to families: Promotions, pricing, presentation; tips for competitive recruiting, 5 ways to ease payroll complexities and smaller portions, big benefits.
For more information from everything from advocacy to industry research, health care to healthy meals, visit

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Health Care law begins to kick into high gear

Louisiana Restaurant Association members are urged to prepare now.

The biggest changes to the U.S. health insurance system in decades continue to unfold this fall, with government-run exchanges set to begin selling health plans for 2014 to millions of individuals and small businesses Oct. 1.

The Obama Administration’s July decision to make 2014 a transition year for the law’s employer mandate and some employer reporting requirements buys larger employers some extra time to try to understand the law, refine their options, put systems into place, and get ready to comply with the employer mandate in 2015.

But the rest of the law is moving forward as scheduled. And even with some employer requirements pushed to 2015, businesses of all sizes still face immediate pressures to prepare. Here’s a look at some upcoming deadlines.

Oct. 1, 2013: Exchanges open. Government-run health insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges, must be up and running by Oct. 1 in all states to let individuals and small employers enroll in private health care plans for 2014. Seventeen states and Washington, D.C., will operate their own exchange or partner with the federal government on an exchange. Thirty-three states, including Louisiana, have chosen to let the federal government run the exchanges in their states for 2014. Among other responsibilities, exchanges will play a central role in determining which individuals qualify for federal tax subsidies to help buy coverage through an exchange.

Oct. 1, 2013: Employee-notification rules. All employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act are required to provide written notice to employees about health care coverage options through the new health insurance marketplaces/exchanges. According to temporary guidance issued by the Dept. of Labor this spring, employers must provide notices to existing employees by Oct. 1, 2013; at the time of hire for employees hired between Oct. 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2013; and within 14 days of the employee’s start date beginning in 2014. The National Restaurant Association’s Health Care Law Primer offers more details.

NRA Notification Tool available! The NRA has developed a Notification Tool that makes it simple for you to comply with the new health care law and offer additional benefits to your employees. The Notification Tool is free to Louisiana Restaurant Association members! Learn more here
 Jan. 1, 2014: Individual mandate: With limited exceptions, all Americans are required to obtain “minimum essential coverage” –through their employers, exchanges, Medicaid/Medicare or elsewhere—for themselves and their dependents or face potential tax penalties. In 2014, individuals will face a penalty of $95 per adult and $47.50 per child with a maximum of $285 or a family, or 1 percent of family income, whichever is greater. Individuals will be required to state on their federal tax returns that they have health care coverage and identify the source. It’s likely that many employees will look to their employers for information about the mandate; see the NRA’s Health Care Law Primer for answers to some common employee questions.
The NRA is also urging Congress to change parts of the law, including changing the definition of full time to 40 hours a week from 30, simplifying the calculation to determine who’s a large employer, and eliminating the automatic-enrollment requirement that would force employers with more than 200 full-time employees to automatically enroll full-time employees in company health plans if employees fail to opt out by a certain date. Visit to learn what you can do to get Congress to make these changes.
 The LRA has partnered with UnitedHealthcare to deliver cost-effective solutions that meet the unique needs of restaurant owners and their valued employees. Read more here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Drive traffic to your restaurant this December!

Louisiana Restaurant Association members invited to participate in the annual Christmas, New Orleans Style campaign

The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp. (NOTMC) and French Quarter Festivals, Inc. (FQFI) are busily planning the annual December celebration, Christmas, New Orleans Style and they are seeking restaurants to participate in the Reveillon program.
What is Reveillon? Derived from the French word for 'awakening,' reveillon originally was a meal served after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Early New Orleans was almost entirely Catholic, and virtually the entire community would participate in these ceremonies. Families would return from the late-night service famished and set upon a feast prepared in advance and laid out on the table or sideboard.
A typical early reveillon menu looked very much like breakfast, with egg dishes, breads and puddings, but could also include turtle soup, oysters and grillades of veal. Naturally, the Creoles accompanied these rich repasts with wines, cordials and other fortified drinks. The dinners could last for many hours, and by some accounts even until dawn.
In the 1990s, however, the reveillon tradition was 'reawakened' and transformed. The organization French Quarter Festivals Inc., interested in attracting travelers to New Orleans during the perennial holiday season lull in convention bookings, approached local restaurants with an idea to offer and promote special holiday menus. Restaurants eagerly embraced the idea and soon so did their local regulars and out of town visitors.
Reveillon has grown considerably during the past several years, with nearly 50 restaurants participating, and Reveillon menus have become one of the most popular attributes of the holiday season in New Orleans. It’s easy and fun to participate and by doing so, restaurants will get the benefit of additional marketing exposure for their restaurant during the campaign promotion period of October through December.
Here’s how the NOTMC and the FQFI promote Reveillon and Christmas, New Orleans Style, and where your restaurant will be listed if you participate:
  • Listings on multiple websites (including and which receive more than 650,000 visits per month.
  • Monthly e-mail newsletters and updates sent by the NOTMC to more than 350,000 subscribers nationwide
  • Nationally distributed printed brochure, plus television and online marketing to support the overall campaign
  • Nationally distributed 2013 calendar shared with tourist centers, media and travel trade, and guests who are in town during the month of December
To learn more or to sign up now, simply go to: and select the Reveillon Listing Form link. Participation guidelines are directly available on the site.

The application deadline is Tuesday, August 20, 2013. Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their applications with Reveillon menu on or before August 20 to be reviewed by the Reveillon Committee Board. Submissions received after August 20, may cause a restaurant to lose their listing within the brochures. There is a fee to participate.
If you have any questions about the Christmas, New Orleans Style Reveillon program, please contact Georgia Rhody at or call (50) 227-3127.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

LRA Northwest Chapter to Host Clay Shoot

The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) Northwest Chapter will host its annual clay shoot Saturday, August 24, 2013 at Los Paloma Sporting Range in Benton, La. Competition begins at 9 a.m.

Participants can choose from two different shooter packages: the .12 Gauge includes a five-man team, lunch and t-shirts and is $500; the .20 Gauge includes a single-shooter entry, lunch and t-shirt and is $125. Prizes will be awarded to the top team and raffle tickets, mulligans and a wobble station shoot will be available for purchase. 
Ammunition is limited to field loads only (3 ¼ drams powder max and shot size no larger than 7 ½) and no gun larger than a 12-gauge. Participants must bring their own ammo. None will be available at the event.

This annual fundraiser will support the LRA Education Foundation (LRAEF) and the LRA’s political advocacy efforts. The LRAEF is governed by a board of directors made up of restaurants, industry experts and educators in the hospitality industry. As the philanthropic foundation of the LRA, the LRAEF exists to enhance our community through expanded educational and career opportunities, the formation of strategic partnerships and the elevation of our professional standards and practices. 
The LRA Northwest Chapter would like to thank the clay shoot’s sponsors: Gibsland Bank & Trust, Reinhart Food Service, Landers Dodge Chrysler Jeep RAM, Eagle Distributing Shreveport, Z107.5, Republic National Distributing Company, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo Foodservice. 
For more information, please contact Julie Salisbury at, call (225) 802-3002, or visit

Monday, August 12, 2013

LRA Bayou Chapter to Host Culinary Showcase

The Louisiana Restaurant Association Bayou Chapter will host its inaugural Culinary Showcase Thursday, August 15 at The Cypress Columns in Gray, La., 6-9 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door and are $25 with a cash bar. The Culinary Showcase is open to the public.

The event will feature cooking demonstrations from the following top Houma/Thibodaux area chefs: Chef Roy Guilbeaux of La Casa del Sol; Chef Derrick Smith of Grady V's American Bistro; Chef Minh Lee of Spahr's Seafood; and Chef Kevin Templet of Flanagan's Creative Food and Drink/Fremin's.

Come hungry! Cuisine and beverages will be provided by the following: Community Coffee, Spahr's Seafood, Flanagan's Creative Food and Drink, Nicholas Catering, Spuddy's, Oak Alley Plantation, Half Shell Seafood, Grady V's American Bistro, Dave's Cajun Kitchen, Cashio's Catering, Cristiano Italian, Dick and Jenny's, Wing Stop, Motivatit Seafood, Griffin's Poboy and Grille, Off the Hook, Twin Peaks, Cypress Columns, The Foundry, Big Al's and Rouses.

The fundraiser will support the LRA Education Foundation (LRAEF) and the LRA's political advocacy efforts. The LRAEF is governed by a board of directors made up of restaurateurs, industry experts and educators in the hospitality industry. As the philanthropic foundation of the LRA, the LRAEF exists to enhance our community through expanded educational and career opportunities, the formation of strategic partnerships and the elevation of our professional standards and practices.

The LRA Bayou Chapter would like to thank the Culinary Showcase's tables sponsors: Nicholas Catering, Bilello's Café, Doerle Food Service, The Ground Pat'i, PFG Caro, Mestizo Restaurant, La Casa del Sol, Reinhart Foodservice, Delta Coin Machines, B&G Foods, Holiday Inn, Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, Thibodaux Racing, Sysco, LRA Self Insurer's Fund, Crescent Crown Distributing, Spahr's Seafood and New Horizons Realty.

For more information, please contact Courtney Waguespack at, call (225) 328-2163 or visit