Monday, June 30, 2014

LRA announces 2014 award recipients, Restaurateurs of the Year

The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) is pleased to announce this year’s Restaurateurs of the Year, Hall of Fame Inductees, Associate Member and Advocate of the Year. The honorees will be recognized at the Five Star Futures Gala, Saturday, August 2, 2014, 6:30 p.m. in the Napoleon Ballroom, Hilton New Orleans Riverside, an event benefiting the LRA Education Foundation (LRAEF).

The 2014 Restaurateurs of the Year are Peter Sclafani and Ruffin Rodrigue of Ruffino’s Restaurants in Baton Rouge and Lafayette. Ruffino’s is a collaborative effort between Rodrigue, a former LSU lineman, and Sclafani, a New Orleans-native third generation chef. Ruffino’s has extended their brand with Ruffino’s on the River in Lafayette and recently added an expanded focus on group business by opening Ruffino’s at De La Ronde Hall in downtown Baton Rouge. Sclafani serves on the LRA Education Foundation Board, LRA Board, is Baton Rouge Chapter president and is an advocate for the LRAEF ProStart Program. Sclafani and Rodrigue are great philanthropists in the Baton Rouge community supporting numerous fundraising activities for civic and non-profit endeavors.

The 2014 Hall of Fame Inductees are the Marino Family of Gino’s Restaurant in Baton Rouge. Each year, the LRA recognizes a member who has given faithful, dedicated and outstanding service to the association by inducting him or her into the LRA Hall of Fame. This year, the Marino Family will be inducted. Gino’s Restaurant has been a staple of the Baton Rouge restaurant community for nearly 50 years, established in 1966 by Vincent, Grace aka “Mama,” Gino, Laurence and Frances. The Marino family originated in Agrigento, Sicily and immigrated to the United States in 1951. With the exception of patriarch Vincent, who passed in 1970, Gino’s remains 100 percent family owned and operated. From its first day in operation, the kitchen has been supervised by “Mama,” now in her 90s and Gino likes to say “she comes with the furniture.” Mama was honored as a 2014 inductee into the Baton Rouge Business Report Hall of Fame.

The 2014 Associate Member of the Year is Mickey Freiberg, Sales Manager of Capitol City Produce. The Associate Member of the Year award recognizes restaurant industry suppliers who display exceptional dedication to and support of the LRA. Freiberg is a member of the LRA Board of Directors and also serves on the LRA Baton Rouge Chapter Board of Directors. Through Freiberg’s LRA involvement, Capitol City Produce has exhibited in the LRA’s Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO for more than 24 years, supported the LRAEF’s ProStart Program and numerous LRA Chapter fundraising activities and events.  

The 2014 Advocate of Year is Representative Erich Ponti, District 69, and chair of the Louisiana House Commerce Committee. The Advocate of the Year is presented to recognize an individual who has supported the advocacy efforts of the LRA and its partner industries. Representative Ponti is a contractor and has worked closely with the LRA Advocacy team to promote good public policy that benefits our industry.

The Five Star Futures Gala will also recognize 30 culinary and hospitality recipients who will be presented with $61,000 from the LRAEF Scholarship Fund. The fund was established in 2009 to assist individuals in pursuit of their culinary arts and restaurant management college level education. To date, the LRAEF Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $200,000 in scholarships to nearly 80 students.

The 2014 LRA Education Foundation Board of Directors would like to thank the Gala Sponsors—Ben E. Keith Co., Crescent Crown Distributing, Hilton New Orleans Riverside, MMI/Mr. Mudbug Catering, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, Reinhart Food Service, Sysco Food Services New Orleans and TLC Linen Services. Special thanks to LRAEF Annual Partners—Five Diamond: Acme Oyster House, Auto-Chlor Services, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Louisiana Restaurant Association and Louisiana Seafood. Four Diamond: Performance Foodservice-Caro. Three Diamond: ATMOS Energy, Camellia Brand, Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, Louisiana Culinary Institute, New Orleans Wine and Food Experience and Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers. Two Diamond—Louisiana Gas Association, Chef Paul Prudhomme’s “Sea of Hope,” and Whole Foods Market. One Diamond—Entergy.

Sponsorships and tickets for the Five Star Futures Gala are available at or by calling Alice Glenn at (504) 454-2277. 

As food costs are rising, small measures can help ease pressure

The National Restaurant Association’ s Manage My Restaurant has articles in categories such as Marketing and Sales, Workforce Engagement, Food and Nutrition and Operations. Visit Manage My Restaurant here for this and other helpful tips.

About one-third of sales in a typical restaurant goes to food and beverage purchases, making cost management in the kitchen critically important to maintaining profitability.

After jumping more than 8 percent in 2011 – the strongest annual increase in more than three decades – wholesale food price growth has slowed, but prices remain elevated. And overall, average wholesale food prices have jumped nearly 30 percent in the past six years.

Meanwhile, menu prices have not risen at nearly the same pace, putting additional pressure on restaurants’ bottom lines. In fact, food costs are cited as the top challenge by more than one-quarter of restaurant operators this year.

In the What’s Hot in 2013 survey, the NRA asked professional chefs how to best handle the pressure of elevated food costs. ”About one-third said that changing menus would help do so, while one-quarter said that adjusting plate composition could help ease the pressure. Another quarter said that they explore new sourcing options and suppliers to offset elevated food prices. Only 4 percent said that raising menu prices is the way to go.

While restaurateurs can’t control the commodity market, they can control which ingredients to use and how to use them in their own kitchens. Some ways to alleviate food cost pressure are:
  • Closely monitor what food is left on consumers’ plates. If your guests are consistently leaving the same items – like salad garnish, french fries or salsa – you can serve less of it or eliminate it altogether. Not only will this save on costs, but it also helps the environment by cutting back on waste.
  • If you don’t want to change a core menu item completely, consider adjusting parts of it. For example, if one type of lettuce is becoming more expensive, substitute a different type. Or, if the price of milled rice is spiking, use other grains.
  • Serve free items only upon request rather than having them on counters or automatically served by staff – for example, condiments, bread, crackers, chips and salsa.
  • Wholesale beef prices increased at double-digit rates between 2009 and 2012, and are still rising. When planning new menu items, explore underused cuts like shoulder, cheeks and skirt steak, as these are often more inexpensive, but yet full of flavor.
  • Use fresh produce that is in season, as supplies are more plentiful and prices typically lower. Consumers are also attracted to freshness of ingredients, so this can be a marketing opportunity as well.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Louisiana ProStart alum takes top honors at Bull Burger Battle

By Wendy Waren, LRA VP of Communications

Grace King High School ProStart® Program alumnus Owen Hohl is making quite a name for himself, most recently with his now award-winning Cajun Burger. Hohl, who is the executive sous chef at Hot Tails Restaurant in New Roads, Louisiana, beat out 15 competitors June 14 at the Bull Outdoor Product’s Bull Burger Challenge in Baton Rouge; some of them much more experienced chefs than he.

Louisiana ProStart alum Owen Hohl wins Bull Outdoor Product's Bull
Burger Challenge in Baton Rouge, June 14 and heads to Las Vegas
in November to compete for the World Burger title. 
The nation’s best burger cooks and chefs squared off in the Bull Burger Battle, a series of five live burger cook-offs events in New York, Baton Rouge, Chicago, San Diego and Indianapolis.

Hohl competed in the 2013 battle and admittedly over thought his burger recipe.

“I baked my own bun, made my own Boursin cheese, grinded my own meat,” Hohl said. “I did everything from scratch.”

With all his efforts though, the judges felt his methods were overly complicated and his bite was too large. This year, he decided to simplify his processes, although his recipe was still multi-faceted. 

“I love making burgers and using ingredients you may not normally associate with a traditional burger, like grilled peaches with Swiss cheese to get that savory and sweet taste on the palate,” said Hohl.

With all the ideas of what burger he’d present to the judges on June 14, he decided to stick with the flavors indicative of his Cajun roots. The winning burger was made with balsamic caramelized onions in Andouille fat, homemade pickled peppers, smoked Gouda and his secret recipe for remoulade sauce. He took in to account his feedback from the previous year and made his patty smaller in size at 5 ounces.

“We had two hours and luckily I made an extra burger for myself, which with 10 minutes left before time was called, I was able to taste,” added Hohl. “I had some extra onions and Andouille left and decided to add more to the burgers for the judges and it paid off.”

Hohl’s score of 87 points placed him well ahead of the other competitors, with the second place coming in five points behind him. Fifty percent of the score was based on taste, 35 was based on execution and 15 for presentation.

As the Baton Rouge Challenge winner, Hohl will compete alongside the winners of the four other battles November 12-18 in the World Burger Championship as part of Team Bull at the World Food Championships in downtown Las Vegas. The wheels in his mind are already turning as the competitors do not have to compete with their original battle burger recipes.

“I may do a seafood burger with a crawfish topping or use pancetta,” said Hohl. “My decision will probably come down to the days right before I leave for Vegas.”

His cooking competition experience dates to 2006, when he was a junior at Grace King High School and first competed in the Louisiana ProStart Student Invitational Culinary Competition, where teams of four Prostart students prepare a four-course, gourmet meal in just one hour. During his senior year, he and his teammates competed in the ProStart Competition and won state and went on to represent Louisiana at the National ProStart Invitational in Charlotte, NC.

“Competing in the ProStart Culinary Competitions really taught me how to manage my time, the process, seasonings and ultimately, present cuisine that I’m proud of and that impress the judges,” he added. “Those ProStart lessons served me well two years ago when I competed in Fete Rouge and I won first place in the seafood category.”

His winning Fete Rouge dish was a white étouffée, made with Louisiana seafood and coconut milk, served over purple Louisiana rice with a side of fried plantains.

When asked what advice he’d give ProStart students and other chefs who want to give it a go in the competition arena, he said, “Stay calm, stick with your plan and don’t second guess yourself.”

Between now and November, Hohl will test countless burger recipes before deciding what he will present to the judges in Las Vegas.

“I’m really excited to have the chance to compete at this level and regardless of whether I win, I’m just looking forward to the experience,” he said. 

Red snapper reallocation suspended in favor of recreational management solutions

Amendment 28 deferred by Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council

Citing the need for management changes in the recreational fishery and overwhelming opposition to the reallocation by Gulf residents, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted Thursday to defer action on Amendment 28, a proposal that would take a portion of the red snapper fishery from Gulf seafood providers for the exclusive use of recreational fishing.

The Council’s vote means it with defer any further action on Amendment 28 until it has completed work on another proposal, “Amendment 40.” This proposal lays the groundwork for new management options for both private anglers and federally permitted recreational charter operators who provide access to recreational anglers through chartered offshore trips.

“We are glad to see the Gulf Council focusing on ideas that could help the recreational fishery,” said John Schmidt, a commercial fisherman from Madeira Beach, Florida and Share the Gulf co-chair. “Share the Gulf was built on the idea that if we manage the entire fishery well, we can share it fairly and sustainably.”

Amendment 28 I its current form (Alternative 5) would take nearly half a million pounds of red snapper out of the commercial seafood market next year alone and shift the majority of future increases to the recreational sector. This is in exchange for adding maybe one day to a nine-day recreational fishing season. Red snapper is a shared fishery and the total allowable catch is already split almost evenly between the commercial and recreational fishermen. Unfortunately, despite that even split, anglers are stuck in a failed management system that leads to shorter and shorter seasons every year, frustrating everyone.

“Reallocation is a false promise to recreational fishermen,” said Capt. Shane Cantrell, a recreational charter captain from Galveston, Texas and Share the Gulf member. “The recreational fishery needs a new management plan and the Council’s action Thursday takes this divisive issue off the table so we can focus on real solutions to the problems recreational fishermen are facing.”

The Gulf Council has received thousands of comments over the last three months in opposition to Amendment 28. A recent review of those comments by Share the Gulf showed that Gulf residents opposed reallocation by a nearly 3-1 margin.

While Amendment 28 has been deferred for now, Share the Gulf and its members will continue to educate Gulf leaders on the downsides of reallocation and work to promote solutions to the failed federal recreational management system.

“Reallocation will hurt Gulf seafood providers and consumers while doing nothing to help the recreational fishery,” said Buddy Guindon, a commercial fisherman from Galveston, Texas and Share the Gulf member. “We need the Council to permanently stop work on Amendment 28 and fully focus its efforts on solutions not fish grabs.” 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

LRA Education Foundation announces new partnership with Camellia Brand to launch 2014-2015 Student Recipe Contest

Louisiana students preparing for culinary careers challenged to reinvent red beans, signature dishes

The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF), in a new partnership with Camellia Brand, today announced a ProStart® Program recipe contest for the 2014-2015 academic school year. The contest was unveiled at Grace King High School this morning to ProStart Program instructors from across the state.
The recipe contest will challenge high school students in each of the participating 50 ProStart Programs statewide to create an original recipe featuring one or more Camellia Brand products including: Red Beans, Lady Cream Peas, Black Beans and Crowder Peas. Details will be presented to ProStart students at the beginning of the 2014-2015 academic calendar and each team will develop recipes during the fall semester before submitting them to be reviewed by LRAEF and Camellia Brand selected judges.

Ten finalist teams will be invited to prepare their recipe in person for a LRAEF and Camellia Brand tasting panel of judges. First and second place recipes will be selected by judges based on taste, presentation, creativity and originality. The winner will receive a $5,000 cash award and the runner-up will receive a $1,000 cash award payable to the school to be used for support of the ProStart Program.

"Who better to ask for recipe innovations than
ProStart students, the future leaders of Louisiana's
culinary and restaurant industry?"
The winning recipe will also be featured in promotional materials and on the Camellia Brand website, while the winning students will also be celebrated at a luncheon and offered paid cooking demonstration and brand ambassador opportunities at Camellia Brand involved trade shows, events and festivals. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in live stream video opportunities and Camellia Brand's new product line developments. 

“So many of us grew up eating Camellia Brand beans,” said LRAEF Executive Director Alice Glenn. “This is a great way for the students to not only pay homage to such a long-standing Louisiana staple, but also to give them an opportunity to show their skills and ingenuity in creating a new dish. Who better to ask for recipe innovation than ProStart students, the future leaders of Louisiana’s culinary and restaurant industry?”

“Louisiana ProStart Program students take the initiative to really understand how one of our state's life bloods - the restaurant industry - works. They deserve our full support since they are the future advocates of our culture and we hope this recipe contest will really challenge them to put their generation's twist on indigenous cuisine,” stated Vince Hayward, CEO of L.H. Hayward and Company, the internationally recognized packager of Camellia Brand dry beans, peas and lentils. “Louisiana restaurants have always supported Camellia Brand. With recent discussions surrounding a lack of skilled workers in the Louisiana restaurant industry, we wanted to do something to help improve the situation at its core.”

The LRAEF is grateful to its 2014 annual partners: 5 Diamond—Acme Oyster House, Auto-Chlor Services, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Louisiana Restaurant Association and Louisiana Seafood; 4 Diamond—Performance Foodservice-Caro; 3 Diamond—Atmos Energy, Camellia Brand,  Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, Louisiana Culinary Institute, New Orleans Wine & Food Experience and Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers; 2 Diamond—Louisiana Gas Association, Whole Foods Market and Chef Paul Prudhomme’s “Sea of Hope”; and 1 Diamond—Entergy.

About LRAEF ProStart® Program
ProStart is a two-year, culinary management program for high school juniors and seniors with a curriculum designed to teach students culinary techniques as well as restaurant management skills. ProStart is in 50 high schools statewide and more than 1,500 students participate in the program. ProStart is a registered trademark of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.
As the philanthropic foundation of the Louisiana Restaurant Association, the LRAEF exists to enhance our community through expanded educational career opportunities, the formation of strategic partnerships and the elevation of our professional standards and practices.

About Camellia Brand
Founded in 1923 by Lucius Hamilton Hayward, L.H. Hayward and Company is a Greater New Orleans, 4th generation family food company internationally recognized as the packager of 17 types of Camellia Brand dry beans, peas and lentils. Camellia Brand products, including New Orleans’ famed red beans, are sold in stores across the country, as well as in select international locations.

Camellia Brand was founded on tradition in New Orleans’ French Quarter Market and its beans always meet the “Hayward Standard,” which is to deliver a premium, healthy, distinctive product like no other on the market. The Camellia Brand logo means what it’s always meant: the most delicious, creamy, flavorful, fastest cooking meals you will ever find on a grocery store shelf. Camellia Brand beans are non-GMO (not genetically modified in any way).

In 2014, the Hayward family will expand the Camellia Brand product line with Camellia Classic Cuisine, a new product line of unique meal solutions consisting of 8 new soups and side dishes.

For more information, visit

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gulf's governors asked to support access to locally sourced seafood

The National Restaurant Association has asked the governors in five Gulf States to support their local restaurants in a quest to maintain uncompromised, year-round access to seafood fished in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

In a letter sent today to Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Rick Scott of Florida, Robert Bentley of Alabama, Phil Bryant of Mississippi and Rick Perry of Texas, the NRA asked the Governors to “stand with us and support the commercial fishing sector that supplies restaurants in your state[s] and throughout the country.”

“In recent months, the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Council has proposed changing the red snapper allocation in the Gulf to reduce the share that currently goes to commercial fisherman,” said Scott DeFife, Executive Vice President, Policy and Government Affairs, NRA. “We strongly oppose these efforts. If successful, these proposed changes could seriously harm the commercial fishing industry and the ability of restaurants to source red snapper from the Gulf. Ultimately these changes could result in shortages and lead to significant price hikes or an inability to fulfill our customers’ desires for locally caught seafood.”

DeFife noted that the Association supports existing catch share allocations for red snapper in the Gulf. The ability to continue to source the fresh, local seafood of the area is essential to the growth of the affected states’ economies and their various foodservice businesses.

“We are committed to helping ensure that this seafood is not only fished sustainably so its population continues to grow, but that the voices of small businesses here, their employees and customers, also are heard,” DeFife added.

In April, the NRA and its Gulf State partners joined Share the Gulf, a coalition of chefs, restaurateurs, restaurant associations, seafood suppliers, fishermen, consumers and conservationists, seeking to protect their access to fish in the Gulf States. The initiative, launched in 2013, aims to ensure the region’s restaurants and grocery businesses maintain an equitable share of the Gulf States’ red snapper catch.

2nd Farm to Table International Symposium examines "The Process"

Held in conjunction with the Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO August 2-4 in New Orleans at the Convention Center, the Farm to Table International Symposium (F2T) brings together the brightest thought leaders and leading practitioners in the burgeoning farm-to-table movement. F2T explores the cultivation, distribution and consumption of food and drink sourced locally to globally.

This year’s theme, “The Process,” examines the agricultural-culinary cycle at all levels and will feature its own organic urban farm research project, in partnership with the LSU Ag Center and the SoFAB Institute. Panel sessions include fisheries: Aquaculture and Wild Caught; GMO and Labeling, Home Cooking and Processed Foods, Indigenous Crops, Indigenous Cuisine, Institutional F2T and the Role of Government, Distributing Craft Beverage: the Hard and the Soft, to name just a few.

Michel Nischan
2014 F2Ti Keynote Speaker
This year’s keynote speaker is Michel Nischan, a restaurateur, award-winning cookbook author, media personality and food policy advocate. Nischan is also the CEO and president of Wholesome Wave, a non-profit foundation dedicated to nourishing neighborhoods by supporting increased and access to healthy, fresh and affordable locally grown food for the well-being of all. A proponent of sustainable farming, local and regional food systems, and heritage recipes, Nischan has long been a leader in the movement to honor local, pure, simple and delicious cooking.

From farming and aquaculture, fisheries, sustainability, social and digital interactive media, food security, safety, food law and policy, the F2T topics are designed to immerse attendees into the heart of all this and best practices, food science and fair trade.

LRA members receive a 20 percent discount off registration fees by using the code: F2TLRA. Visit for more information and to register. 

Keep your finger on the pulse of the latest developments in foodservice technology

The 18th Annual FSTEC Fall Conference & Exhibition is coming to New Orleans, September 21-23, 2014 at the Sheraton New Orleans. Louisiana Restaurant Association members receive complimentary admission to the industry’s longest running technology conference in the U.S. that focuses exclusively on foodservice. Education and insights are some of the top reasons foodservice operators attend FSTEC, which allows them to experience the most recent developments and use them to grow their business.

Attendees are top level decision makers from chain and multi-unit restaurant companies as well as regional and local operators from all segments looking for technology solutions. This year, at FSTEC 2014, all of the following channels will be represented: quick service, fast casual, family and casual and fine dining restaurants; colleges and universities; business and industry, onsite catering and delivery; entertainment and sport venues, convenience stores; pubs, taverns and nightclubs; travel, cruise and lodging and gaming.

Guided by FSTEC’s expert advisory board, the 2014 program has been designed to be one of the best networking and experience-sharing forums in the industry. With more than 10 hours of education, attendees will learn from industry experts and visionaries who are leading the way in implementing the latest technology into their operations. Among them are LRA Past Chair Ralph Brennan, owner of Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group; Steve Barrow, VP of Information Systems of Luby’s/Fuddruckers; Rachel Phillips-Luther, VP of Marketing for Zoes Kitchen; Kristen Hartman, VP of Marketing for Cinnabon—Focus Brands; and David Starmer, VP of IT, Store Systems for Dunkin’ Donuts.

Overall, FSTEC offers a great opportunity to meet face-to-face with your peers allowing you to build relationships with some of the industry’s top leaders and decision makers. There truly is no better forum for new ideas and solutions to foodservice technology issues and opportunities.
Attend Educational Workshops and listen to exceptional speakers discuss topics such as: social media, back-of-the-house solutions, tablets, mobile, customer engagement and much more.

As an invited operator, your registration is free! To register, visit and use your exclusive registration code: WOODSTOCK. For more detailed information, contact Bryn Cotton at

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Nursing Mother" break requirement spurs investigations, lawsuits

By Michael S. Mitchell, Fisher & Phillips, LLP

A little-known section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare,” obligates employers covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to allow a worker to take unpaid break time to express breastmilk for her nursing child.  The requirement extends for a year after the child is born.  Under the law you must:
  • make available a suitable location (other than a bathroom) that is shielded from view and is free from intrusion by coworkers or the public; 
  • permit a “reasonable” break time under the circumstances; and 
  • let the worker take such a break each time she “has need” to express milk.

Sounds Simple, But It’s Not
This all seems straightforward until one begins to ponder such things as how many daily breaks are required, how much time is “reasonable,” and so on. Many of the answers necessitate individualized evaluations based upon a particular employee’s (and child’s) circumstances.

For example, the number and frequency of breaks can depend upon a variety of things, such as the number of feedings in a baby’s normal daily schedule, the impact of a baby’s age upon feeding needs, and whether the baby is eating solid food. The U.S. Labor Department (DOL) suggests that the number of breaks called for in an eight-hour shift would “typically” be two or three.  However, more might be required during longer shifts.

The duration of a “reasonable” break is also subject to situation-specific factors. Relevant considerations would include, for instance, how long it takes the worker to walk to and from the break location, how much time she must spend expressing the milk (the Labor Department thinks that this would normally be around 15 to 20 minutes), and the amount of time she must devote to setting-up for, cleaning-up after, and adequately storing the milk produced.

There are also many other areas of uncertainty. As illustrations, what must an employer do with respect to employees who do not work at any fixed location, or as to those who work at a client’s or a customer’s premises?  The DOL has asked for public comment on these questions, but to date it has offered little guidance.

Although the law plainly says that “[a]n employer shall not be required to compensate an employee” for the reasonable break time taken, even here matters are less than clear. The DOL has said that the break could nevertheless count as compensable worktime in some situations, including when the employee has not been “completely relieved from duty” during the break.  Labor Department interpretations also take the view that an employer must pay the employee the same way it does others if she takes paid break time to express breastmilk. 

The requirement does not apply to employees who are excluded from the FLSA’s overtime provision, including those who fall with that law’s executive, administrative, professional, or “outside salesman” exemption. There is also an exception for an employer of fewer than a total of 50 workers if “undue hardship” will result from providing the breaks, but this is a high standard that will likely be difficult to prove.

Let the Claims Begin
Enforcement efforts appear so far mainly to have involved the Labor Department. The most-recent statistics released reveal that the agency found one or more violations of the break requirement in two-thirds of the 54 investigations it conducted. 

About 80 percent of the compliance problems grew out of the obligation to provide an adequate space, while a smaller percentage apparently arose from not providing break time. Employers found to be in violation reportedly agreed to observe the requirement in the future and to make employees whole for any losses resulting from unlawful conduct.

There have also already been at least some employee lawsuits. In one of them, a lower federal court found that only the Labor Department could enforce the requirement to provide a suitable break location. However, the court allowed the former employee to mover forward with her allegation that management retaliated against her when she asserted her rights. 

The potential remedies for such a claim could include more than just lost wages; the FLSA allows for “such legal or equitable relief as may be appropriate,” which might encompass additional things like compensatory damages and reinstatement to one’s job.

Our Advice?  Compliance
Restaurant management should develop a policy for dealing with the break obligation before a worker comes forward with her request. Planning points will include, among others, who will take the lead in evaluating each worker’s request, what location(s) will be provided, how management will go about arriving at the appropriate length and number of breaks, and whether there are any unusual or atypical factors to be evaluated ahead of time.

And be aware that a number of state laws require these kinds of breaks. Some of those laws provide more rights to a covered employee than the federal one does. When different break requirements apply to a particular worker, generally you must comply with whichever is more favorable to the individual.  Take this possibility into account as you formulate a policy.

Fisher & Phillips is labor and employment counsel for the Louisiana Restaurant Association.  For more information contact the author a or (504) 522-3830. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Eatin' in the Big Easy, LRA announces 4th annual We Live to Eat Restaurant Week

Embracing the ever-growing culinary scene in New Orleans, the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) – Greater New Orleans Chapter is proud to announce the return of its annual culinary promotion – We Live to Eat (WLTE) Restaurant Week – a weeklong celebration showcasing New Orleans’ finest restaurants. From September 8-14, 2014 locals and visitors alike will be able to enjoy exclusive discounted two-course lunch ($20 or less) and three-course dinner menus ($39 or less) from more than 50 of the city’s most-acclaimed dining destinations including celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse’s flagship restaurants – Emeril's, Emeril's Delmonico and NOLA Restaurant; acclaimed Chef John Besh establishments – Domenica, Lüke, Borgne, La Provence and August; New Orleans culinary institutions Galatoire’s, Arnaud’s and Commanders Palace; Drago’s Seafood Restaurant; Mr. B’s Bistro; Le Foret; Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse; SoBou; Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak and many more.

Expanding on the popular program, this year’s WLTE Restaurant Week will feature an array of new culinary events and promotions including a special Kick Off celebration taking place at New Orleans’ acclaimed event space, The Chicory, Wednesday, September 3, 2014. Open to the public, guests will be able to sample culinary delights from a handful of participating chefs as they offer a “sneak peek” of their Restaurant Week menus, while enjoying complimentary cocktails and entertainment. Ticket sales will benefit the Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to building the culinary community through expanded educational and career opportunities, the formation of strategic partnerships and the elevation of our professional standards and practices. 

WLTE Restaurant Week is proud to partner with Eat Fit NOLA – a unique program that highlights the better-for-you items right on the menu, making it effortless for anyone to eat nutritiously, anywhere in the city. Designed by registered dietician with Ochsner’s Elmwood Fitness Center, Molly Kimball, guests can indulge without guilt by choosing certified Eat Fit NOLA dishes available on the Restaurant Week menus.

Celebrated for its food, WLTE Restaurant Week offers visitors the chance to explore New Orleans’ dining scene and one-of-a-kind culture without breaking the bank. With hotel packages, inexpensive flight deals and discounted menus at New Orleans’ top restaurants, tourists are in for the ultimate foodie vacation.

WLTE Restaurant Week Sponsors to date include: Camellia Brand; Open Table; Patrick Gros CPA; Auto-Chlor System; Eat Fit NOLA; and Crystal Clear Imaging.

Guests can check back regularly to the WLTE Restaurant Week website here for updates on participants, sponsors, travel packages and deals.  Restaurant menus will be available online beginning August 1, 2014.  Smartphone app also available for Android and iPhone August 1, 2014.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Economist's Notebook: Louisiana adds nearly 100 new locations in 2013

The National Restaurant Association's Chief Economist Bruce Grindy analyzes trends in restaurant unit growth on the state level.  California led the nation in restaurant establishment growth in 2013, followed closely by New York.  In percentage terms, Kentucky set the pace with a solid 5.1 percent gain in restaurant locations.

Nationally, the restaurant industry added a net 8,362 eating and drinking place establishments* in 2013, according to newly-released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The 2013 expansion followed stronger gains of 9,944 locations in 2011 and 11,649 locations in 2012.

On the state level, trends were generally positive in 2013.  Forty states added eating and drinking place locations in 2013, while only 11 states (including the District of Columbia) experienced a decline in units. 

Like the recent national trends, growth was somewhat less widespread on the state level in 2013, relative to the two previous years.  Forty-two states added locations in 2011, while 44 states saw unit growth in 2012. 

California led the nation by adding a net 1,368 eating and drinking place locations in 2013, followed closely by New York with a net increase of 1,237 units.  Texas added a net 986 restaurant establishments in 2013, which represented the first time in four years that the Lone Star State didn’t add at least 1,000 units. 

Florida, after leading the nation in 2012 by adding 1,714 units, expanded its restaurant industry by 818 locations in 2013.

In percentage terms, Kentucky led the way with a solid 5.1 increase in eating and drinking place establishments in 2013.  South Carolina saw its restaurant industry expand by 3.8 percent in 2013, while Iowa added locations at a 3.6 percent rate. 

Louisiana saw a modest increase of 1.2 percent new restaurant locations in 2013, up 99 locations over the previous year’s 8,307.

In contrast, Minnesota lost a net 126 eating and drinking place locations in 2013, a 1.3 percent drop from its 2012 level.  North Carolina lost a net 84 eating and drinking place establishments in 2013, while the District of Columbia’s eating and drinking place sector shrunk by a net 68 locations. 

Read more from the Economist’s Notebook and get additional analysis of restaurant industry trends on Restaurant TrendMapper (subscription required).

*The establishment figures, which are based on unemployment insurance filings of businesses that have wage and salary employees, represent the most comprehensive census of establishments with payroll employees on the national, state and local levels.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

NRA launches improved Restaurant TrendMapper

The National Restaurant Association has launched a new and improved version of its Restaurant TrendMapper online subscription service that will help industry professionals improve their business performances.

The service will help restaurateurs, analysts and allied industry professionals:

Keep up-to-date with the latest economic indicators and trends that affect their business environment
  • Stay current with trends through the NRA’s Restaurant Performance Index
  • Data on sales, employment, capital expenditures, and wholesale food and menu price inflation 

“Restaurant TrendMapper is a unique resource of industry data and analysis in easy-reference form, which eliminates the need to constantly dig through complicated data files to get a snapshot of what’s going on in the industry,” said Bruce Grindy, the NRA’s chief economist and author of Restaurant TrendMapper. “The service provides running analysis of key industry indicators that are crucial for tracking trends and planning strategically for the future.”

Grindy also said the new and improved site would allow operators to “keep an eye on food and commodity prices is helpful for menu planning; if beef is becoming more expensive, the operator might temporarily cut back and promote other proteins until price pressures ease.”

“Restaurant TrendMapper also contains useful data and analysis for suppliers to the restaurant industry.  Our monthly tracking breaks down capital expenditure plans by industry segment, which can help allied professionals anticipate their own business conditions in the months ahead,” he added.

Restaurant TrendMapper also features: 
  • Continually updated NRA research and forecasting
  • Analysis of the latest data from government sources, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau
  • Downloadable data files for use outside of the online platform in both text and chart formats 
In addition, industry professionals also can track topics, such as:
  • Wage and hour trends
  • Tourism
  • Restaurant locations
  • Macro-economic indicators, and select state and regional data 

NRA members interested in receiving Restaurant TrendMapper are eligible for exclusive pricing on it and all other research publications.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

#LRAEXPO14: Stay through Monday

There’s a lot to do in New Orleans. If you want to avail yourself of the city’s weekend activities, make plans to hit the Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO on Monday, the day serious buyers make deals right on the show floor.

Traditionally a lighter attendance day, you won’t have to fight the barrage of attendees as you would on Saturday and Sunday. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., you can meander the aisles leisurely and really get an up close look at the hundreds of exhibiting companies, and see and hear about the latest food products, alcoholic beverage brands, equipment, technology and services to improve your restaurant’s profitability and efficiency. Exhibitors on Monday may even cut you a sweet deal, as many of them don’t want to transport product and equipment back to their headquarters.

An added incentive: If you take advantage of the LRA Self Insurer’s Fund for Workers’ Compensation (LRA SIF), you can also knock out your annual safety seminar from 10:30-11:30 a.m. located in the IDEA ZONE.

Restaurant business tends to be slower on Monday and many operators actually take the day off. With the show ending at 3 p.m., if you live in Louisiana or a neighboring state, you could be home and unpacked just in time for Monday night primetime television.

To see the full EXPO line up, visit our website here. Register to attend the EXPO today here

Thank you to this year’s Platinum Sponsors!
Heartland Payment Systems, Louisiana Cookin’, Capital One, Republic National Distributing Company, UnitedHealthcare, Glazer’s of Louisiana, Louisiana Restaurant Association Self Insurer’s Fund and the LRA Education Foundation.

Gold Sponsor—Midlands, Generations Hall & Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses; and Silver Sponsors—Fisher & Phillips, LLP and Johnson, Johnson, Barrios & Yacoubian.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Why color is the main ingredient for brand integrity

The National Restaurant Association s Manage My Restaurant has articles in categories such as Marketing and Sales, Workforce Engagement, Food and Nutrition and Operations. Visit Manage My Restaurant here for this and other helpful tips.

Choosing a specific color or palette of colors for your restaurant's brand can be a daunting task. Ultimately, your brand's color will define your image as a business. When a person sees a particular color, he or she relates to it in certain ways. One color might make a person feel refreshed and relaxed, while another might make him or her think of stressful situations or powerful moments. That’s why it’s important to evaluate the tone of your menu and atmosphere of your restaurant before making a decision on the primary color of your brand.

Why is color important for my brand?
  • Color defines your brand's perception, and consistency of that color is key. Color consistency builds trust among your customers and increases the value of your brand.
  • Color consistency also eliminates confusion surrounding your brand. People will recognize your brand and know what your company stands for when you achieve color consistency.
  • Color consistency provides you with a better competitive advantage. It allows you to stand out against your competition, which might not manage its branding as strongly.

How can I achieve color consistency success in my printed material?
  • Choose a qualified printer. Not every printing company understands the importance of color consistency when it comes to brand management. Find a print provider that specializes in color management and is G7 certified. Be certain your print provider has a dedicated team to ensure color consistency across all print devices and substrates.
  • Choose one trustworthy print provider and stick with that provider. That eliminates the risk of printed items not matching each other.
  • Always establish a “golden master” either as LAB color, or use Pantone colors in your artwork. Make sure your provider knows to match to them. Pantone is a standardized color reproduction system in the form of a printed guide and allows your print provider to have an accurate reference for matches.
  • Make sure you have greater brand control by using a marketing asset management tool. It allows you to better manage your marketing and brand identity in one place, giving you the control you need over your brand.

There's much to consider when it comes to choosing a brand color for your restaurant, and knowing your target demographic can help. Many brand managers don't realize senior citizens are drawn to blue and green. If that’s the group who frequent your restaurant the most, it might be something to consider when creating your branding strategy.

Perhaps you don't have a set demographic, and you generally want to attract a wide range of diverse diners. In that case, blue might be the color for you. Adults worldwide favor blue more than any other color. Once you decide on a color for your brand, stick with it, own it, and develop your brand around it. That’s the first major decision you have to make when launching your brand identity, and it will have a big impact on the overall success of your restaurant.

This content was provided by Primary ColorFor more information contact Paul Wartman at 949.370.4255 or