As the New Year gets underway, we have much to be grateful for in Louisiana. Our industry employs nearly 200,000 people and that number is projected to grow by nearly 25,000 by 2022. With the increase of visitors to our state and the support of our residents, the Louisiana restaurant industry is projected to achieve 2014 sales in excess of $7 billion for the first time. This is astonishing given that in 2004, our industry’s annual economic impact was just $4.2 billion. That’s a 40 percent increase in just nine years.
The National Restaurant Association recently released its 2014 What’s Hot Culinary Forecast with locally sourced meats and seafood topping the list. The Louisiana Restaurant Association's work with fisheries issues and the Share the Gulf Coalition align closely with these initiatives. Other trends include locally grown produce, environmental sustainability, healthful kids’ meals and gluten-free cuisine.
To assist you in these areas, the NRA has three programs that you might consider—ServSafe Allergens, Kids LiveWell and Conserve. ServSafe Allergens is a 90-minute online training course to provide your management or chefs in how to serve the 15 million guests with food allergies safely. Kids LiveWell is a program focused on offering healthy options for kids when dining in your restaurant. It meets specific caloric, portion and fat contents. If you agree to participate in Kids LiveWell, your restaurant can be listed on the Kids LiveWell website that provides a resource to consumers seeking healthier options. Conserve is a free online resource to initiate and inspire actions that improve a company’s bottom line, but also are good for people and the planet. Be sure to visit the NRA’s Manage My Restaurant portal for more insightful tips to effective and efficient restaurant operations.
In addition, the LRA offers ServSafe Manager (the DHH mandated eight-hour training course in food safety and sanitation) and ServSafe Alcohol Online (the ATC mandatory two hour training course is available online for the first time in Louisiana). Visit the LRA website here to learn more about ServSafe.
The LRA Self Insurer’s Fund for Workers’ Compensation is pleased to return more than $2 million in surplus dividends in April 2014. They will be distributed to eligible members during the April LRA Chapter events. If you aren’t participating in the LRA SIF for your workers’ compensation needs, please allow us to quote your business. We can quote your workers’ comp directly through one of our LRA regional sales representatives or through your agent.
Finally, we know that as you operate your restaurant that employee issues create unique challenges. The LRA retains the firm of Fisher & Phillips to provide guidance and assist with any questions, concerns or problems you may be facing. Please call the LRA office and we will connect you with an attorney who can guide you through any employee questions. Utilizing this resource in advance usually produces good dividends in the form of a happy, engaged workforce.
We are here to help you become more successful and profitable in 2014 and beyond.
Happy New Year,