Friday, November 28, 2014

'Follow Your Joy' to New Orleans for the Holidays

New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation (NOTMC) launches its 30th Annual Christmas New Orleans Style campaign to national, regional and internet audience

New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, (NOTMC) and French Quarter Festivals, Inc. (FQFI) announce four new additions to its seasonal Christmas New Orleans Style celebration.  

“New Orleans always has something magical about it, but especially at Christmas," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “Music, unique Reveillon dinners, and holiday traditions give families an opportunity over six full weeks to learn and experience the season while enjoying moderate temperatures." 

The 2014 Christmas New Orleans Style experience features four new additions this holiday season. Luna Fete, which runs through the first week in December, will see iconic Gallier Hall become the canvas for a brilliant display of art and light. Reveillon on the rocks will debut over 45 specialty holiday cocktails, and NOLA Christmas Fest will take families inside the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to experience a holiday adventure. NOTMC is also launching 'New Orleans City Store', an e-commerce portal that will sell officially branded New Orleans merchandise, just in time for gift-giving.

“Plan your trip ahead by using,” said Marci Schramm, Executive Director of French Quarter Festivals, Inc. “While in town, be sure to pick up a free ‘Christmas New Orleans Style’ guidebook from a concierge or Visitors Center. The guidebook is the only place to find everything there is to experience, eat, drink – and have fun – during the holidays in New Orleans!”

A fifteen-second 'Follow your Joy' TV spot features the voice of actor and New Orleanian John Goodman, along with a soundtrack by the New Birth Brass Band. Iconic New Orleans scenes include historic architecture, attractions throughout the city, holiday food, and seasonal events.'

The spot is airing in 13 regional television markets that include Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Lafayette, Lake Charles, and the Monroe LA/El Dorado, AR market; Houston, and Dallas, TX; Memphis, TN; Montgomery, and the Mobile, AL/Pensacola, FL market, Jackson, Columbus/Tupelo, and Gulfport/Biloxi, MS. 

Programming highlights include prime time shows such as 'The Voice,' morning news and late night TV, as well as high-profile sporting events such as Thanksgiving Day NFL football, the 41st Bayou Classic, and holiday specials 'Shrek the Halls' and 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'.

"New Orleans will welcome visitors and locals all over the city this season,” said Mark Romig, President and CEO of NOTMC. “From NOLA Christmas Fest, to Celebration in the Oaks at City Park, to historic French Quarter caroling and old-fashioned Christmas performances with the Victory Belles at the National WWII Museum, the city will burst at the seams with beautiful lights, the songs of the season, and satisfying holiday food and drink.”

The spot is viewable online at GoNOLA TV found on YouTube. The website,, showcases 'Christmas New Orleans Style' events listing concerts, Christmas shopping, Reveillon dinners, and Papa Noel hotel rates. Additionally, visitors and locals are invited to share personal holiday scenes on Instagram by tagging photos with #FollowYourJoy.

To learn more about Christmas New Orleans Style, and to view the 2014 CNOS guide book listing all scheduled events, visit or Hotel reservations, including special citywide rates, can be booked via direct links to hotels on

For a schedule of events or more information on Christmas New Orleans Style, call (504) 522-5730 or visit

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Holiday Greetings from Stan Harris, LRA President/CEO

It's hard to believe we are approaching the end of another year, with the holiday season approaching quickly. This time of year brings many end-of-the-year business deadlines and also provides the time for giving thanks for our families, friends, employees and customers. As a business owner, what's on your holiday to-do list? You may be shopping for competitive workers' compensation, health care options for you and your employees, or just feel like you could be doing more to support positive changes in our industry.

If you are not taking advantage of the LRA Self Insurer's Fund for your workers' compensation needs, you are missing our competitive rates, in-house claims handling, complimentary safety services and potential safety dividends. The LRA SIF is governed by a Board of Trustees, your fellow LRA members, who along with our management team, are focused on efficiency and timely handling of claims.Members of the LRA SIF should be on the lookout for renewal packets and safety dividends for eligible members in the coming weeks. We thank you for allowing us to be your solution provider for your workers' compensation needs.

The Trustees have declared a dividend to be distributed in 2015 of $2.2 million, which is the 27th consecutive year our fund has returned this to its members. Since 1988, the LRA SIF has returned $103.9 million in unused premium and safety dividends to its eligible members. In addition to lowering our rates three times in past four years, your SIF fund continues to grow topline revenue while using best practices for efficiently processing member claims. 

We know that navigating the Affordable Care Act appears daunting and effective January 1, 2015, penalties for some large employers will take effect. The LRA, along with the National Restaurant Association, have partnered with United Healthcare to offer special pricing for association members. If you have questions about the Affordable Care Act, or its implementation, please give us a call.

As you make your resolutions for the New Year, I hope that you would consider staying connected with the LRA and your fellow members. If your schedule doesn't allow you to attend every Chapter meeting in your area, please consider joining us in the first quarter of 2015 for your LRA Chapter's Legislative Night. At the LRA. we are dedicated to protecting and enhancing this industry every day of the year. It's at the holiday time especially that we are grateful for the opportunity to serve our diverse membership across Louisiana. 

Our industry has been barraged with an attack on its reputation. Our message must be strong and consistent when countering these attacks. No industry offers opportunity to those with limited skills or experience like ours. And for those willing to put forth the effort, there are pathways to prosperity and financial opportunities that are immeasurable. The restaurant and foodservice industry is a job creator and it is critical that we remind customers, our elected officials and our team members of its value to the state and national economy. Don't be afraid to share why you chose this industry or career path. We should be proud of the entrepreneurial spirit that drives our industry's growth and success.

It is our privilege to serve you as a member of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. We hope that you have a wonderful holiday season. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

State of the American Consumer: Caution remains, but signs point toward improvement

A majority of American consumers remain uncertain about the economy and cautious in their spending habits, based on the results of a new NRA survey.  On the positive side, the survey suggests that this recession mindset is not a permanent state for consumers, and they will continue to come out of their shell as their personal finances improve, according to the NRA’s chief economist Bruce Grindy. His Economist’s Notebook commentary and analysis appears regularly on and Restaurant TrendMapper.

Although the official trough of the Great Recession was more than five years ago, many American consumers have yet to climb out of the rut, according to a new survey* commissioned by the National Restaurant Association.  When asked earlier this month to rate the current state of their own personal finances, a majority of adults described them as either fair (36 percent) or poor (18 percent). Less than one in 10 adults say their personal finances are in excellent condition.

Flash back to 2010 when the economy was just beginning to add back some of the nearly 9 million jobs that were lost during the recession, and the responses to the same question were almost identical. Nearly six in 10 adults said their personal finances were in fair (41 percent) or poor (18 percent) condition, while only seven percent described them as excellent. 
With the personal economies of many consumers trending sideways, it’s not surprising that this persistent recession mindset is negatively impacting spending. Consumer spending, which generally helps propel the economy out of a recession, has been lackluster during the current recovery. 

In the 21 quarters since the official end of the recession, total personal consumption expenditures rose just 11.8 percent in inflation-adjusted terms, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. During the same period following the previous three recessions, consumer spending increased by an average of 21.8 percent. 

Post-recession spending has been even more sluggish for the Services category, which includes many discretionary sectors like restaurants. Real spending on services rose just 8.5 percent during the last 21 quarters, or less than half of the average 19.6 percent gain that followed the previous three downturns. 

Even now, a solid majority of American consumers remain reticent to spend. When asked to describe their personal spending behavior right now, seven in 10 adults say they are holding back on spending in some fashion. 

Twenty-seven percent of adults say they “are very concerned about the economy and are holding back significantly on spending,” while 42 percent say they “are taking the wait and see approach and are holding back somewhat on spending until the economy improves.” Only three in 10 adults (29 percent) say they “are confident in their financial situation and are not holding back on spending.”

While it’s not surprising that lower income households are more likely to be curtailing spending right now, it is somewhat unexpected that a majority of higher income households are also cutting back. Among individuals in households with income of $100,000 more, one in five say they are holding back significantly on spending, while 35 percent are holding back somewhat. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

NRA partners with SBA to boost dining out on Small Business Saturday

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator, Maria Contreras-Sweet, announced that the federal agency is partnering with the National Restaurant Association to promote dining out during Small Business Saturday on November 29th. The partnership will amplify restaurants during the national push to support our nation’s small businesses on the busiest shopping weekend of the year.

“Local restaurants pack a big punch to our nation’s economy, as part of the economic powerhouse that is American small businesses. The restaurant industry is projected to add 1.3 million jobs over the next 10 years and to project $683.4 billion in total sales, equaling 4 percent of the U.S. GDP,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “The SBA is proud to partner with the National Restaurant Association to champion this great sector of American small businesses.”

Dining out on Small Business Saturday will emphasize the accomplishments of small business restaurants across the country while encouraging consumers to patronize eateries in their neighborhoods. Restaurants are a significant factor in the nation’s economy as the industry’s economic impact is estimated at $1.8 trillion. Additionally, each dollar spent in restaurants generates an extra two dollars in sales for other industries, spurring economic activity in their communities and across the nation.

“Restaurants provide valuable jobs and careers for more than 13.5 million people and are strong economic engines in communities nationwide,” said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO, NRA. “While the industry is the nation’s second-largest private sector employer, the overwhelming majority of restaurants, more than 90 percent, have fewer than 50 employees. The National Restaurant Association is pleased to join forces with the Small Business Administration to showcase the industry’s critical role in overall small business creation.”

Additionally, the SBA and the NRA are encouraging small business owners and community members to share success stories of restaurants in their areas on social media using the hashtag “#DineSmall.” This will allow communities big and small to come together and show their support for entrepreneurs across the country.

To encourage not only the public to dine small, but for restaurants to prepare for the busy day, the Small Business Administration will launch a social media campaign called #ShowUsYourMenu.   Restaurants are asked to create a special menu for Small Business Saturday and promote it on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to spotlight their business and remind everyone to #DineSmall while they #ShopSmall.

Visit the Small Business Saturday website for a list of participating restaurants.

The SBA is the voice for small business in the U.S.A. and advocates on behalf of 28 million small businesses, jumpstarting and nurturing their ideas. To learn more about support and products available to small businesses through the SBA, visit:<

Thursday, November 20, 2014

As holidays near, Entergy disconnection scam resurfaces

Don't get so caught up in the spirit of the season that you let your guard down and fall prey to scammers. The Entergy disconnection scam reared its head again today, and resulted in Louisiana Restaurant Association Member Phil deGruy notifying the association.

“Two of the three Phil’s Grills were called, but fortunately, we knew it was a scam,” said deGruy in a text. “The LRA is good about letting us know about these things, but we can never be reminded enough, so I contacted the office.”

Here’s how the scam works. A con artist will give you a call and say that your electric bill payment is past due and that your service will be disconnected within the hour if you don’t pay up. Then you are directed to transfer funds electronically, sometimes through the system known as “MoneyPack.”

We've also heard of this scam in other parts of the state with the con artists using the local utility provider's name in place of Entergy, in this case. 

Last year, LRA member Keith Dusko, owner of Chiba restaurant in the Riverbend neighborhood, was immediately suspicious and avoided getting duped by scammers. He shared his encounter will readers here

Entergy doesn't want you to fall victim to this scam and reminds you:
  • While the company does place courtesy calls if you are at risk for disconnection, these are recorded calls, and are not calls from live customer service representatives. Entergy NEVER demands immediate payment.
  • While you may pay your Entergy bill by phone or credit card, it is ONLY through BillMatrix, a third-party vendor we use for this purpose.
  • You shouldn't give your personal information to strangers. If a call sounds suspicious, call 1-800-ENTERGY (1-800-368-3749) to speak with an Entergy customer service representative.
  • You should only use authorized methods and legitimate banking information to pay your Entergy bill. 
If you believe you're a victim of this scam, you should notify the proper authorities, such as the local police or the state attorney general's office. If you believe your Entergy account has been affected, call 1-800-ENTERGY (800) 368-3749) to speak with an Entergy customer service representative.

LRA Greater New Orleans Chapter announces annual award recipients

Steve Pettus named LRA GNO Chapter Restaurateur of the Year, Antoine's Restaurant receives Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) Greater New Orleans Chapter (GNO) is pleased to announce its annual award recipients. During a ceremony November 19, 2014 at The Chicory, 2014 LRA GNO Chapter President Mike Maenza, owner of Mr. Mudbug and MMI Culinary Services, presented the following awards—Restaurateur of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, Hall of Fame, Presidential Award, Active Member of the Year, Distinguished Service Award and Associate Member of the Year.
Mike Maenza with Steve Pettus, who receives the
LRA GNO Chapter's Restaurateur of the Year award. 
Steve Pettus, owner and managing partner of Dickie Brennan & Company, was selected as the LRA GNO Chapter’s Restaurateur of the Year. His restaurant group owns and operates four New Orleans restaurants—Bourbon House, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, Palace Café and Tableau. Given to a member who contributes unselfishly to the advancement of the hospitality industry, Pettus has continually dedicated himself to the LRA and has been a LRA GNO Chapter Board Member since 2007. He is an LRA Self Insurer’s Fund for Workers’ Compensation Trustee and also serves on the board of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau and the French Quarter-Marigny Historic Area Management District.

“Steve has been a tremendous asset to the Greater New Orleans Chapter,” said Maenza. “His connection to New Orleans’ business community, coupled with his knowledge of the restaurant industry, not only makes his restaurants very successful, he also makes the association stronger.”
Antoine's Restaurant proprietor Rick Blount and mother
Yvonne receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. 
Iconic New Orleans institution Antoine’s Restaurant was honored with the 2014 LRA GNO Chapter Lifetime Achievement Award. Current proprietor and CEO Rick Blount and his mother, Yvonne Blount, represented Antoine’s and accepted the honor on its behalf. Antoine’s has been a proud LRA member for 56 years.

“With Antoine’s 175th anniversary approaching, we could not be more pleased to honor this world-famous establishment,” said Maenza. “New Orleans is home to some extraordinary restaurants, but only Antoine’s has the distinction of being the longest, continuously family-owned and operated restaurant in the country.”

Mike Maenza inducts Mr. B's General Manager
Randy Stein into the LRA GNO Chapter Hall of Fame. 
Randy Stein, general manager of Mr. B’s Bistro, was inducted into the LRA GNO Chapter’s Hall of Fame. Stein has a long history of faithful, dedicated and outstanding service to the LRA and serves as a director of the LRA State Board and previously served as president of the LRA Greater New Orleans Chapter.

Octavio Mantilla, partner in the John Besh Restaurant Group, received the LRA GNO Chapter Presidential Award. His restaurant group owns and manages nine restaurants in Louisiana and Texas—August, Besh Steak, Domenica, Lüke New Orleans, Lüke San Antonio, Borgne, Pizza Domenica, La Provence and Johnny Sanchez.  For five years, Mantilla has volunteered his time to the chapter and has actively worked to bring new members to the association.

Stanton Ripp, owner and operator of Barcadia, was named the LRA GNO Chapter Active Member of the Year. The award is given to an individual in the food service industry who is involved in chapter affairs, events and meetings, and encourages his peers to join the association and become active.

Bob Becker, CEO of New Orleans’ City Park, received the LRA GNO Chapter Distinguished Service Award. The award is presented to an individual outside of the association in recognition for innovations and significant contributions to the advancement of the hospitality industry.

Anthony Lamm, Global Staffing Solutions’ sales and marketing manager, received the LRA GNO Chapter Associate Member of the Year Award for graciously volunteering his service to the chapter and its activities, fundraisers and efforts.

“Each one of these individuals have been chosen to receive these awards because of their selfless dedication to the advancement of the Louisiana Restaurant Association and the New Orleans restaurant industry,” said Maenza. “They use their positions and influence for the greater good, and we are grateful they volunteer their time and talents.”

The LRA 2015 Chair Tony Abadie, director of catering and events at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, installed the officers of the LRA GNO Chapter Board during the ceremony. 

Is a major tax headache brewing for restaurants?

Who wants to file their taxes twice next year?

The answer, or course, is nobody. But that’s what business owners and individuals who want to take advantage of certain tax provisions might be forced to do just that if Congress doesn’t take action to renew several key tax extenders before the year ends. Congress has historically renewed them for two years at a time, but gridlock and dysfunction has so far delayed action in the current session despite bipartisan bills to renew the tax extenders being introduced in the House and Senate.

If Congress waits until 2015 to take action, restaurateurs who have already filed their taxes would likely have to file them again to benefit from the renewed tax extenders.

While more than 50 tax provisions expired at the end of last year, the National Restaurant Association (NRA)has been aggressively pressuring Congress to renew three that stand to have a significant impact on restaurants:
  • A 15-year depreciation schedule on restaurant-building improvements and new construction, retail improvements, and leasehold improvements. Without congressional action, the depreciation schedule will remain at 39.5 years.
  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which offers businesses tax credits of $2,400 to $5,600 for hiring employees from demographic groups who historically have a hard time finding employment.
  • The enhanced tax deduction for businesses and individuals that donate food inventory to charity. 
NRA research has found that uncertainty surrounding the tax depreciation schedule is a factor in restaurateurs’ decisions to take on new renovation or construction projects. About three in 10 operators who responded to an NRA survey on the topic said they were delaying projects because of uncertainty over the tax treatment of those projects. Most restaurants remodel and update their buildings every six to eight years, according to NRA research.

The NRA joined 30 state restaurant associations and more than 500 other groups in sending a letter to Congress on Tuesday, urging members to vote to renew and permanently extend the tax provisions during the current lame duck session.

“Failure to extend these provisions is a tax increase,” the letter stated. “It will inject instability and uncertainty into the economy and weaken confidence in the employment marketplace…A delay in the tax filing season will delay tax refund checks and spending decisions, resulting in an immediate negative impact on the economy.”

The NRA is asking restaurant operators to contact Congress to urge them to take action. Tell your representatives in Congress to vote for tax certainty for restaurants!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NRA releases new report on consumer spending

The National Restaurant Association this week released a new edition of its Consumer Spending in Restaurants report – an analysis of spending on food away from home by demographic groups. Last published in 2009, the report can help restaurant operators strategically plan their menus, services and marketing programs to build and maintain sales.

“Looking at demographics is extremely important for restaurant operators. One primary influencer on spending is income, in that the more cash-on-hand consumers have, the more they are likely to spend dining out,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research & Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. “Our report breaks down income levels and other important factors to show how spending on food away from home can vary significantly according to household traits and composition.”

“For example, households with annual income above $70,000 comprise a third of all households but account for 56 percent of total spending on food away from home. And, young adults who have not yet reached their peak earning years spend less dining out when counting dollars, but a higher proportion of their total food budget compared with families with children,” Riehle said. 

According to the report, average household spending in restaurants was $2,678 in 2012 (or $1,071 per person), an increase of 2.2 percent over the previous year. Broken down by region, the Northeast and the West outspent the Midwest and the South. Breaking it down further by major U.S. city, Washington, D.C. led the nation both in levels of spending and proportion of total food budget spent in restaurants.

Based on 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Consumer Spending in Restaurantsbreaks down spending patterns by household income, age of household head, household size and composition, ethnicity, number of household earners and occupation. In addition, it breaks the information down by region, as well as Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in each region.

As with all the NRA’s research publications, NRA members receive a 50 percent discount. For details, visit

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

National Restaurant Association releases consumer spending in restaurants report

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) this week released a new edition of its Consumer Spending in Restaurants report – an analysis of spending on food away from home by demographic groups. Last published in 2009, the report can help restaurant operators strategically plan their menus, services and marketing programs to build and maintain sales.

“Looking at demographics is extremely important for restaurant operators. One primary influencer on spending is income, in that the more cash-on-hand consumers have, the more they are likely to spend dining out,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research & Knowledge Group for the NRA. “Our report breaks down income levels and other important factors to show how spending on food away from home can vary significantly according to household traits and composition.”

“For example, households with annual income above $70,000 comprise a third of all households but account for 56 percent of total spending on food away from home. And, young adults who have not yet reached their peak earning years spend less dining out when counting dollars, but a higher proportion of their total food budget compared with families with children,” Riehle said. 

According to the report, average household spending in restaurants was $2,678 in 2012 (or $1,071 per person), an increase of 2.2 percent over the previous year. Broken down by region, the Northeast and the West outspent the Midwest and the South. Breaking it down further by major U.S. city, Washington, D.C. led the nation both in levels of spending and proportion of total food budget spent in restaurants.

Based on 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Consumer Spending in Restaurants breaks down spending patterns by household income, age of household head, household size and composition, ethnicity, number of household earners and occupation. In addition, it breaks the information down by region, as well as Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in each region.

As with all the NRA’s research publications, NRA members receive a 50 percent discount. For details, visit

Monday, November 17, 2014

ACA Large Employer penalty goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's (PPACA) large employer penalty goes into effect on January 1, 2015 for some employers. The IRS issued regulations just a few months ago allowing for a phase-in period for some large employers, which are also known as the transition rules. These rules state that employers with fewer than 100 full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) or fewer than 80 full-time employees are exempt for 2015 from the large employer penalties. Beginning in 2016, the number of employees will drop to the statutory requirements of 50 FTEs and 30 full-time employees.

A FTE is calculated by adding all part-time employees' hours (employees working less than 30 hours a week) and dividing by 30 and adding all of your full-time employees to your number. Here is an example: 

Employer A has the following employee make-up:
  • 50 employees working at least 30 hours per week (50 FTEs)
  • 10 employees working 20 hours per week (10 x 20/30 = 6.67 FTEs)
  • 40 employees working 15 hours per week (40 x 15/30 = 20 FTEs)

This employer would be deemed to have 76 (50 + 6.67 + 20) FTEs

For 2015, there would not be any large employer penalty issues. However beginning in 2016, Employer A could be subject to a non-deductible penalty up to $40,000 annually.

There are many considerations in determining whether or not employers should offer coverage, whether hourly employees are full-time or part-time and the kind of coverage(s) to offer.

In order to assist employers, Bourgeois Bennett, LLC is hosting a complimentary seminar Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014 from 9-11 a.m. To RSVP, call Becky Kearns at (504) 831-4949.

If you have questions, call Stephen Blitz at Bourgeois Bennett's New Orleans office.

Disclaimer: This eBulletin contains general information and cannot substitute for individual consultation. You should obtain professional advice before making financial business or tax decisions.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Support Small Business Saturday and dine local

With the holidays and Black Friday just around the corner, restaurateurs and retailers also are gearing up for Small Business Saturday.

Nov. 29 marks Small Business Saturday, the ceremonial kick-off to the holiday shopping season for small businesses across the United States, and the National Restaurant Association (NRA) is, for the fifth consecutive year, supporting the initiative. The event was created in 2010 as a way to support local businesses, which create the majority of job opportunities, boost the economy and preserve communities around the country.

According to the U.S. Small Businesses Administration, small businesses have accounted for 64 percent of net new private-sector jobs since 2012.

“We are proud to recognize the important role restaurants and other small businesses play in helping to keep our economy healthy,” said Dawn Sweeney, the NRA’s president and CEO. “It is no secret the jobs they create and culture they instill are crucial to the well-being of our communities.”

Learn more about Small Business Saturday here.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Food trends to anticipate in 2015

The restaurant industry is evolving faster than ever, according to leading food research and consulting firm Technomic. Technology, consumer and menu trends are all revolutionizing foodservice. Technomic lays out 10 trends that its consultants and experts believe may be transformative in 2015. To develop its annual list of trend forecasts for the coming year, Technomic editors and analysts collect and share insights based on menu data and consumer research. Ten trends set to revolutionize restaurants in 2015 reflect an appetite for local ingredients, exotic cuisine and craftsmanship.

Lights! Camera! Action!
Dining is no longer just a personal experience, but a staged event that imparts bragging rights. Plating and lighting are increasingly designed with phone snapshots and social-media sharing in mind. Customers collaborate to put on the show; menus, marketing, even charitable efforts are crowdsourced.

Small is in: Diners demand petite plates and flexible portions; units are smaller with shrunken, laser-focused menus, multi-use equipment and expanded hours to leverage fixed costs; labor pressures mean leaner staffing and more technology (though a backlash is brewing as many diners seek to unplug and be waited on).

Foodservice everywhere. 
Alternative forms of foodservice swallow share—from retailers' ever-more-sophisticated onsite restaurants to fresh-food-and-drink vending to enterprises that deliver ingredients to your door. Meanwhile, in the restaurant world, fast casual shakes out, segment lines blur further, pop-ups proliferate and demand for tech-enabled delivery heats up.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

7 steps to avoid lacerations in a restaurant

Whether you are a skilled chef or new to a restaurant kitchen, having proper knife skills not only makes your job easier, it can also prevent unnecessary injuries, trips to the emergency room and/or days out of work.

There are many factors that can impact your ability to use a knife safely and effectively such as a lack of training, inadequate lighting, an unanchored cutting board, an attempt to catch a falling knife, using the wrong knife for the job or holding the item you're cutting improperly, to name a few.

By following these seven simple steps your employees can protect themselves from lacerations.

Separate Sharps
The most dangerous knife is the knife you cannot see. For that reason it is important to keep knives out of dish tubs or sinks. Create a designated tub for dirty knives in the workplace or have employees who are using the knives personally clean them after use.

Proper Techniques
Before you give the keys to the knives to your staff ensure they are trained on proper knife usage. This includes:
  • Cutting away from the body and not toward
  • When walking through a busy kitchen with a knife in your hand, always keep the blade pointed down and carry it close to your body
  • Always hand a knife by holding the non-sharpened side of the knife and extending the handle to a person
  • Never attempt to catch a falling knife. Just let it fall to the floor.
Cutting Gloves
Made from stainless steel, Kevlar or other materials resistant to sharp objects, cutting gloves are a great addition to any kitchen. While these gloves are extremely effective in preventing cuts it is important to remember they are cut resistant, not cut proof- injuries can still occur. When purchasing these gloves make sure you order multiple sizes to ensure each member of your kitchen staff has a properly fitting glove.

Cutting Boards
The utilization of cutting boards prevents objects from slipping while they are being cut. For this reason it is important to make sure all your employees are using cutting boards and that the boards you have are in good working condition.

Sharpen routinely
Perhaps the most common cause of restaurant lacerations is dull and improperly maintained knives. Dull blades not only slip but decrease accuracy and performance. You should have blades sharped at least once to twice a week depending upon usage. When sharpening knives also inspect the handles and if loose tighten. If the handle cannot be tightened the blade should be properly disposed.

Avoid distractions
The operation of a knife is a dangerous job requiring complete concentration. It is important to have a policy in place that instructs employees not to communicate with one another when one is using a knife. While it may sound a bit impractical it will increase efficiency and reduce accidents.

Know your knife
You wouldn't hammer a nail with a screw driver, so don't cut bread with a non-serrated blade. Ensure your employees have proper training on what knife to use for what job. Here are a few pointers...
  • Chef's Knife—Great for chopping large or very firm vegetables. Best for: Onions, carrots, potatoes, peppers, celery, meat.
  • Serrated Knife—A serrated knife is the most efficient (and safest) way to slice. Best for: Tomatoes, bread, citrus fruits, pies, quiches, pizza.
  • Paring Knife—The fine, small blade paring knife is for delicate precision work on all kinds of small food items. Best for: Apricots, plums, berries, apples, shallots, garlic, fresh herbs.
This article is provided courtesy of the LRA Self Insurer's Fund for Workers' Compensation. If you are not a plan participant and interested in more information or a comparison quotes, please call (504) 454-2277 today. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

OSHA announces new requirements for reporting severe injuries

Updates list of industries exempt from record-keeping requirements

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced a final rule requiring employers to notify OSHA when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye. The rule, which also updates the list of employers partially exempt from OSHA record-keeping requirements, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, for workplaces under federal OSHA jurisdiction.

Under the revised rule, employers will be required to notify OSHA of work-related fatalities within eight hours, and work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours. Previously, OSHA's regulations required an employer to report only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees. Reporting single hospitalizations, amputations* or loss of an eye was not required under the previous rule.

All employers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, even those who are exempt from maintaining injury and illness records, are required to comply with OSHA's new severe injury and illness reporting requirements. To assist employers in fulfilling these requirements, OSHA is developing a Web portal for employers to report incidents electronically, in addition to the phone reporting options.

In addition to the new reporting requirements, OSHA has also updated the list of industries that, due to relatively low occupational injury and illness rates, are exempt from the requirement to routinely keep injury and illness records. The previous list of exempt industries was based on the old Standard Industrial Classification system and the new rule uses the North American Industry Classification System to classify establishments by industry. The new list is based on updated injury and illness data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The new rule maintains the exemption for any employer with 10 or fewer employees, regardless of their industry classification, from the requirement to routinely keep records of worker injuries and illnesses.

If you have any questions, please call the LRA Self Insurer’s Fund for Workers’ Compensation Loss Prevention Department at (504) 454-2277.  

*An amputation is defined as the traumatic loss of a limb or other external body part. Amputations include a part, such as a limb or appendage, that has been severed, cut off, amputated (either completely or partially); fingertip amputations with or without bone loss; medical amputations resulting from irreparable damage; and amputations of body parts that have since been reattached. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Restaurant labor indicators a mixed bag

Restaurant industry job growth remained robust in October, adding jobs at its strongest rate in more than a year. Despite the continued payroll expansion, the average employee workweek was flat to somewhat lower for the major segments, according to the NRA’s Chief Economist Bruce Grindy. His Economist’s Notebook commentary and analysis appears regularly on and Restaurant TrendMapper.

The restaurant industry continued to add jobs at a robust pace in October, according to preliminary figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Eating and drinking places added a net 41,800 jobs in October on a seasonally-adjusted basis, their 56th consecutive monthly increase and strongest gain since May 2013.

Overall, the restaurant industry remains on pace to post job growth of at least 3 percent for the third consecutive year, which would mark the first such occurrence since the 1993 – 1995 period.

Within the restaurant industry, the snack and nonalcoholic beverage bar segment is leading the way in job growth. This segment – which includes concepts such as coffee, donut and ice cream shops – added jobs at a strong 5.5 percent rate on a year-to-date basis through September 2014. If this trend continues, it would represent the segment’s third consecutive year with employment gains above 5 percent.

The quickservice segment is also posting solid growth, adding jobs at a 3.6 percent rate during the first nine months of 2014. This puts the quickservice segment on pace to post job growth of at least 3.5 percent for the third consecutive year.

The fullservice segment added jobs at a 2.7 percent rate through the first nine months of 2014. While this is down somewhat from the consecutive 3.4 percent gains registered in 2012 and 2013, fullservice employment gains remain nearly a full percentage-point above job growth in the overall economy.  

While the industry continues to expand payrolls at a solid rate, the average workweek of employees is flat to somewhat lower for the major segments. According to BLS, the average weekly hours worked by non-supervisory employees in the snack and nonalcoholic beverage segment declined 1.0 percent on a year-to-date basis through September 2014.   

Meanwhile, the average workweek of quickservice restaurant employees declined 0.4 percent through September, while the average employee workweek in the fullservice segment was essentially flat. 

In contrast, average hours worked by food service contractor employees increased 9.0 percent in the first nine months of the year, while average weekly hours of employees in the catering and mobile foodservice segment rose 8.6 percent.

Friday, November 7, 2014

LRA Board of Directors elects At Large, new member

Rob King of Pitt Grill Inc. in
Lake Charles is elected to
LRA State Board of Directors.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) Board of Directors has elected Rob King to the At Large position of the LRA State Board of Directors during its November meeting in Point Clear, Ala. King’s term will begin January 1, 2015.

King, Vice President of Pitt Grill Inc. in Lake Charles, has been an LRA State Board Director for the past six years. He also serves on the LRA Southwest Chapter Board of Directors and was its president in 2009 and 2010. Additionally, King serves as Chair of the LRA Self Insurer’s Fund for Workers’ Compensation Board of Trustees. He has been an LRA member for 20 years.

King is truly part of his family’s business, having worked for Pitt Grill with his father since the restaurant’s inception in 1972. At age 5, “My job was to pick up [trash in] the parking lot and my payment was a waffle,” King shared.

Darrell Whaley of Taco Bell
in West Monroe is elected as a
director to the LRA State Board.
“Rob’s experience with every facet of the restaurant industry, from busser to prep cook and now vice president, makes him a valuable asset to the LRA’s Executive Committee,” said LRA President & CEO Stan Harris.

Also during its November meeting, the LRA Board elected Darrell Whaley as a new director. His tenure will begin in 2015. Whaley currently serves on the LRA Northeast Chapter Board. He is a Taco Bell operations supervisor in West Monroe, having been employed by the company for the past 27 years.

“The LRA is pleased to welcome Darrell to its Board of Directors. His nearly 30 years of experience in the industry will help us to grow the association,” said Harris.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

LRA honors six Restaurant Legends at Acme Oyster House in New Orleans

Terrilee Guilbault, Stacy Long Krol, Terrance Davis, Acme Oyster House
CEO Paul Rotner, Sheri Baker and Leslie Smith show off the
Restaurant Legends Awards at the Nov. 4 surprise ceremony.  
The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) is pleased to name six Restaurant Legends from Acme Oyster House in New Orleans. The recipients were recognized at a special, surprise ceremony at the restaurant November 4, 2014.

The Restaurant Legends Award recognizes the long-term dedication of employees of the restaurant industry, with 20 or more years of service at one establishment.

With 149 combined years of experience and service at Acme Oyster House, these men and women exemplify the satisfaction of making their jobs a lifelong and rewarding career.

They are:
  • Sheri Baker, chief financial officer, employed for 29 years
  • Michael “Hollywood” Broadway, master oyster shucker, employed for 32 years
  • Terrance Davis, expediter and cook, employed for 20 years
  • Terrilee Guilbault, bartender, employed for 27 years
  • Stacy Long Krol, payroll manager, employed for 21 years
  • Leslie Smith, server, employed for 20 years
These recipients join more than 130 individuals in our state recognized by the LRA through its Restaurant Legends program. Collectively, these industry professionals have more than 4,000 years of service to Louisiana restaurants and suppliers.

“These men and women are exceptional employees. Professional, kind, loyal and hard-working are just a few words to describe their character,” said Acme Oyster House CEO Paul Rotner. “They put our customers first—always, and are true legends in our industry.”