|National Restaurant Association|
Chair Ken Conrad will address
Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality
EXPO attendees during its opening
ceremony, August 2 at 10:45 a.m.
National Restaurant Association (NRA) Chair Ken Conrad will address the crowd and cut the ribbon to open the show at the Opening Ceremony of the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s 61st Annual Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO, August 2 at 10:45 a.m. at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, Hall I.
Starting out as a cook in one of his parents’ restaurants, Marshal L. “Ken” Conrad went on to take over operations of that location, and then became the company president in 1983. Today, Conrad is chairman of Libby Hill Seafood Restaurants, a nine-location company based in Greensboro, N.C. His parents began the company in 1953 with a single restaurant.
“My family continues to own and operate Libby Hill Restaurants and I’m proud to say that my son Justin is the third generation of Conrads in the business,” said Conrad.
A former chair of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, Conrad served on its board for more than 20 years and was named Restaurateur of the Year in 2007. He has been a member of the NRA Board of Directors since 2004.
“When I joined the LRA and began to attend NRA board meetings, Ken was one of the first directors who extended to me his friendship and knowledge of the organization,” said Stan Harris, LRA President/CEO. “As I have become a Trustee of the NRA Education Foundation, this initial welcome is what has driven me to help improve the NRA enterprise and our industry. I was honored to be asked to serve on the NRA’s Strategic Planning committee by Ken as we chart the direction of the organization for the next five years.”
Conrad’s trip to New Orleans for the EXPO weekend includes several appearances, including the opening of the EXPO, speaking at the LRA Education Foundation’s Five Star Futures Gala Saturday evening, August 2 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside and a presentation to the LRA Board of Directors.
“I’ve visited New Orleans five times or so and am looking forward to my trip for the EXPO,” Conrad said. “I own seafood restaurants in North Carolina and coming to a great seafood city like New Orleans is a wonderful treat for me and my family. It’s also great to walk through the French Quarter and find a place for red beans and rice where I can people watch. I love Drago’s charbroiled oysters.”
His description of New Orleans is one of admiration for its grandeur, graciousness and beauty—a real jewel of the South, with such a rich heritage. He shared that he has always received a warm and welcoming reception during his visits and commented, “I’ve heard it said that in other cities, people ask about who you know and what you do for a living, but in New Orleans people ask where you ate last and what you had. The food is exceptional. As a lifetime restaurateur, it’s my kind of place.”
Conrad has been an outspoken industry advocate regarding the impact of the Affordable Care Act on restaurants and the President’s proposed $10.10 minimum wage bill. With 40 years of experience in the restaurant industry, his track record of engaging policymakers, economic experts, industry workers and consumers has made him a well-respected industry advocate.
In the May 8, 2014 Roll Call, Conrad submitted the commentary, “Regulations squash job growth, hurt workers,” addressing the Affordable Care Act and the proposed federal minimum wage increase.
“Having spent my life in small businesses—first as a worker, then a manager and finally an owner—I understand the challenges and opportunities facing both employees and employers,” said Conrad in his Roll Call commentary. “There is a better way to approach these issues in our society. Tackling income inequality should not be addressed by an either-or approach. We can—and have—had it both ways. What we need is a comprehensive, multi-faceted solution that provides more education, training and lifts people into the middle class in a way that also encourages business growth.”
The long-time industry veteran is active in the Greensboro, N.C. business community through the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Alliance and the Guilford Merchants Association. He lobbies on behalf of small businesses on local, state and federal issues and has testified before Congress on food safety issues. He is a former chair of the National Fisheries Institute.
“His experience with National Fisheries Institute has dovetailed nicely with the LRA’s activities on behalf of the Gulf Seafood Institute and the Share the Gulf Coalition,” Harris added.
Conrad has a bachelor of art degree in economics from Guilford College and served in the Army National Guard, where he was a cook.
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.