Monday, March 30, 2015

LRA Blog moves to LRA.org

The Louisiana Restaurant Association launched its new and improved website at www.LRA.org. With this makeover comes fresh graphics, easier navigation and other enhancements. Of them, a news function on its website, which will replace this blog going forward. Content from this blog has been migrated to the new site. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

LRA Education Foundation offers $70,000 in hospitality scholarships

Scholarship Fund to aid students for fifth consecutive year

The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) is now accepting scholarship applications through April 10, 2015. The LRAEF Scholarship Fund was created in 2009 to support the continuing education of individuals pursuing a career in the culinary and/or hospitality industry.

Applicants must be currently enrolled or accepted in a bachelor and/or associate degree seeking program, pursuing a career in the restaurant, foodservice, tourism or hospitality industry. Courses of study can include, but are not limited to: culinary, hospitality, tourism, business and management programs. Scholarship awards may vary based on available funds and are merit-based.

The 2015 scholarships will be awarded from the following funds: 
  • Jim Funk Scholarship: The LRAEF’s most prestigious award, the scholarship is named for former LRA President & CEO Jim Funk, who was instrumental in founding the LRAEF and was a culinary education champion during his 30 years of service to the LRA. This scholarship is renewable on an annual basis for up to four years, provided that minimum GPA and enrollment standards are met.
  • LRAEF/NRAEF ProStart® Scholarship: Awarded exclusively to students who achieve the ProStart Certificate of Achievement. ProStart is a nationwide, two-year program for high school students that develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s industry leaders.
  • LRAEF Culinary & Hospitality Leadership Scholarship: Awarded to Louisiana students who intend to pursue a career in the restaurant, foodservice, tourism or hospitality industry.
  • LRA CENLA Chapter Scholarship: Presented by the LRA CENLA Chapter, this scholarship is awarded to qualified applicants from the chapter’s 11 parish area- Avoyelles, Beauregard, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Sabine, Vernon and Winn parishes.
  • Louisiana Seafood Scholarship: Established through a generous gift from the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board, this scholarship is awarded to qualified applicants who show an interest in cultivating, protecting and promoting Louisiana seafood.

Available for download at www.LRAEF.org, the application must be completed and postmarked by Friday, April 10, 2015.

“The LRAEF is proud to offer financial assistance to students both beginning and furthering their education in the culinary and hospitality fields,” said LRAEF Executive Director Alice Glenn. “Our industry offers great opportunities for rewarding careers and advancement. Our goal is to support promising future leaders as they prepare for the many lucrative restaurant careers in Louisiana.”

The LRAEF, a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization, exists to enhance the restaurant community through expanded educational and career opportunities, the formation of strategic partnerships and the elevation of professional standards and practices. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Alice Glenn, aglenn@lra.org or (504) 636-6526.

The LRAEF is grateful to its nine LRA chapters and its sponsors: 5 Diamond—Acme Oyster House, Auto-Chlor Services, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Louisiana Restaurant Association, Louisiana Seafood and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation; 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.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Calling Louisiana Chefs: Your opportunity to vie for King/Queen of Louisiana Seafood

In keeping with a tradition now entering its eighth year, the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off will take place at the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (NOWFE) in New Orleans, Saturday, May 23, 2015 at 11 a.m. at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. During NOWFE’s Grand Tasting event, where patrons experience cuisine from more than 50 restaurants and wine from vineyards far and wide, Cook-Off organizers will crown the King or Queen of Louisiana Seafood.

Ten Louisiana chefs will compete for the honor and join the ranks of past winners—Chef Brian Landry of Borgne (2008); Chef Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace (2009); Chef Chris Lusk of Restaurant R’evolution (2010); Chef Cory Bahr of Cotton (2011); Chef Keith Frentz of Lola (2012); Chef Cody Carroll of Hot Tails (2013); and reigning king, Chef Aaron Burgau of Patois.

The winner of the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off will go onto to represent Louisiana in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off, Saturday, August 8, 2015 at the Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO in New Orleans at the Morial Convention Center.

Chefs interested in competing must be an executive chef for a restaurant in Louisiana that is an acclaimed free standing restaurant. Restaurants associated with a luxury country club, resort or hotel is also eligible. Restaurant must be a member of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. No institutional chefs, i.e. food service distributors, hospitals, culinary school instructors, caterers or corporate chefs for chains having 10 or more restaurants are eligible to compete.

Each chef will be responsible for plating up to five entrees for judges with Louisiana seafood as the main protein. Each chef is responsible for his or her own travel and ingredient costs. Those traveling from more than 100 miles away may be eligible for a travel stipend of $100.

There are 10 spots available and entry forms will be accepted until Friday, April 10, 2015 and will be considered in the order they are received until all 10 spots are filled by eligible participants. Contestants will be notified of their eligibility by Friday, April 17, 2015.

For details and entry form, click here.  Please return your completed form to Tiffany Hess to thess@crt.la.gov by April 10, 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

Restaurant workforce demographics are shifting

The teen labor force participation rate declined sharply in recent years, a development that directly impacted the restaurant workforce.  Although restaurants are still the economy’s largest employer of teenagers, the shrinking teen labor pool has led many restaurant operators to look to alternative age cohorts to fill their staffing needs, according to the NRA’s chief economist Bruce Grindy.  His Economist’s Notebook commentary and analysis appears regularly on Restaurant.org and Restaurant TrendMapper.

The Great Recession and its aftermath had a significant impact on the U.S. labor force. The labor force participation rate fell to a 37-year low, with many people who lost jobs deciding not to return to the workforce. Contributing to this decline was the retirement of baby boomers, as well as a growing proportion of teenagers choosing to remain on the sidelines.

As the nation’s second largest private sector employer, the restaurant industry was directly impacted by these shifting labor demographics in recent years. Of significant note for the restaurant industry was the sharp decline in the teenage labor pool.

At its peak in the late 1970s, roughly 58 percent of 16-to-19-year-olds were in the labor force. This participation rate remained above 50 percent until 2001, when it started trending downward. The Great Recession exacerbated this decline, with the teen labor force participation rate plunging from 41.3 percent in 2007 to just 34.0 percent in 2014 – a record low.

The net effect was a decline of 1.4 million teenagers in the labor force between 2007 and 2014, a development that was reflected in the restaurant workforce. In 2007, 16-to-19-year-olds represented 20.9 percent of the restaurant workforce. By 2014, these teens made up only 16.6 percent of restaurant employees. 

To be sure, the restaurant industry is still the economy’s largest employer of teenagers, providing jobs for 1.5 million individuals between the ages of 16 and 19. Put another way, one-third of all working teenagers in the U.S. are employed in a restaurant. However, the shrinking teen labor pool has led many restaurant operators to look to alternative age cohorts to fill their staffing needs.

With teen representation in the restaurant workforce declining, a majority of the new restaurant jobs went to millennials in recent years. The share of restaurant jobs held by 20-to-24-year-olds rose from 21.4 percent in 2007 to 24.2 percent in 2014, while 25-to-34-year-olds also took on a larger role in the restaurant workforce.

Although older adults still make up a relatively small proportion of the restaurant workforce, they were the fastest growing demographic group in recent years. In fact, the number of adults aged 55 or older working in the restaurant industry jumped 38 percent between 2007 and 2014, an increase of 218,000 individuals. This trend is expected to continue in the years ahead, as older adults make up a larger share of the U.S. labor force.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Optimize hot water temperature

You don’t overcook your food, so why make water hotter than you need it?

You pay for hot water three ways and those costs add up. But one clear way to save on your water heating costs is to check your water heater and optimize the temperature setting. The best part of this exercise is it's a no-cost project.


Water temperature is set by health code mandates. Typically that means 120 degrees Fahrenheit at hand sinks and 140 degrees at dish machines, and you must meet those requirements. If you are setting the water hotter, however, you're wasting energy that could cost hundreds of extra dollars per year.

Spending just a few minutes at the hot water tank to adjust and optimize the settings can conserve both energy and money.

Monday, March 16, 2015

LRA Past Chair Richard Brennan Sr. died at 83 in New Orleans

Richard J. Brennan, Sr., New Orleans Restaurateur, born in the Irish Channel, passed away the evening of Saturday, March 14, surrounded by his family and loved-ones.  Brennan was the first in the family to serve as a Chair of the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) in 1961-1962, and to serve on the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors.

“Mr. Brennan was an ambassador and advocate for Louisiana’s restaurant industry,” said Stan Harris, President/CEO of the LRA. “He was a visionary, who mentored some of the most notable of chefs in New Orleans culinary history. Mr. Dick's last role for the LRA was serving as EXPO Co-Chair with his son, Dickie, in 2010.”

Brennan (better known as Dick) was the embodiment of New Orleans. His contributions to New Orleans cuisine, Mardi Gras and the overall culture of the city leave a legacy that is deeply woven into the fabric of the place he called “home.”

He was born on Third Street in the Irish Channel in November of 1931. Dick Brennan was the second youngest of six children, in what would become the first family of fine dining Creole in New Orleans. His life reads like a storybook, in which good fortune, hard work and ingenuity led to many successes.

In high school at St. Aloysius, Dick was a star basketball player.  He was all-district and all-state for his high school career, as was State MVP for three years (all except his freshman year). Coach Rupp from the University of Kentucky recruited him for their championship team. However, Dick’s mother fell ill prior to the start of school, so he opted to stay close and attend college at Tulane University in New Orleans. A star of their team, he led Tulane to victory over Kentucky in his senior year—the only game that Kentucky lost that season. For his successes on the basketball court, he was inducted into the Tulane Hall of Fame in 1991.

During college he began dating the woman who would become his wife of nearly sixty years, Lynne Trist Brennan. Dick met Lynne through his sister Dottie – Lynne’s friends from their years attending the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans. Shortly after graduating from Tulane, Lynne and Dick married. Dick completed two years of Law School before he enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Augusta, Georgia and Williamsburg, Virginia.  When he returned to New Orleans, he intended to finish Law school but his brother, Owen, and both parents passed away within a year of one another, he instead went to work at the family’s restaurant, Brennan’s on Royal Street. With his siblings, Dick was instrumental in opening Brennan’s in Houston, Dallas and Atlanta, as well as Chez Francis in Metairie, Louisiana, Mr. B’s Bistro and the Friendship House on the Gulf in Mississippi. During this time he and Lynne had two children - a daughter, Lauren, and a son, Dickie Jr.
In 1973 the Brennan’s split their restaurant interests, and Dick along with his siblings John, Adelaide, Ella and Dottie took control of Commander’s Palace. The New Orleans’ Garden District landmark had faded over the years and the siblings were tasked with reviving the nearly 100-year-old restaurant. Dick was passionate about New Orleans and America.  He recognized the sheer bounty of our region, including ingredients and talent. Instead of European chefs, he hired from the area. Paul Prudhomme and Dick collaborated on dishes that today have become synonymous with New Orleans cuisine.  He walked to work each day from his house on Third St., and each day he passed a pecan tree. He wondered why almonds were used to coat fish and not pecans that grow locally? From this simple question posed to Chef Prudhomme, pecan crusted fish was born. 

In an interview with The Times Picayune, Emeril Lagasse once said, “You could have no better mentors that Ella and Dick.  They are absolutely the best.  They are legends.  They are masters of the restaurant business.”  Emeril was the Executive Chef at Commander’s Palace from 1982 – 1989. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

American palates growing more adventurous

Nine in 10 restaurant operators say their guests are more knowledgeable about food than they used to be and pay more attention to food quality than just two years ago, according to the National Restaurant Association's (NRA) 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast.
"As dining out has grown into an everyday activity over the last few decades, we essentially have become a generation of 'foodies' with a much wider base of experience and trial of new cuisines and flavors than previous generations," said Annika Stensson, director of research communications for the NRA. "Growth of international travel and increased diversity of cuisines offered here at home have driven today's diners to be more adventurous and generally more willing to try new things when dining out."

NRA research shows that 64 percent of consumers consider themselves more adventurous in their food choices when dining out now than just two years ago. This sentiment is even stronger among millennials, where 77 percent consider themselves more food adventurous. 

Seventy-two percent of consumers also say that restaurant food provides tastes and flavors they can't duplicate at home, which especially true for global cuisines. Roughly seven out of 10 consumers say they are more likely to try ethnic cuisines in a restaurant than they are trying to cook such dishes at home.

The rise of ethnic cuisines has been evolving for decades, resulting in ethnic cuisines and flavors increasingly making their way onto mainstream menus. Currently, more than a third of restaurant operators say they offer ethnic cuisine items outside of their main menu theme, with the highest number reported among fine-dining restaurants (51 percent) and casual-dining restaurants (48 percent). In addition, a majority of operators believe this will become even more common in the future. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Why not make the LRA your provider for food safety and sanitation, alcohol server training

The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) is the largest provider of food safety and sanitation and alcohol server training in the state. Members of the LRA receive significant discounts on these state-mandated training courses. Are you taking advantage of the convenience and savings?

ServSafe Manager, the eight-hour course is offered to members at just $109, compared to the non-member price of $160. Classes are offered at numerous locations across the state and year around. The cost includes study material, the in-person course and testing materials in a proctored setting. To date, the LRA has trained over 30,000 foodservice professionals in ServSafe Manager and the course is regarded as the gold standard for the industry.

ServSafe Alcohol training is available online, 24-7; anywhere the individual has access to a PC and an internet connection. The LRA was the first to offer the state-mandated, two hour course online.  Members receive special pricing of just $24 with the a special discount code (call the LRA for the code), while non-members pay $30. The LRA’s Louisiana’s BEST (Beverage Education Server Training) private classes are still available upon request. Call the LRA for details or to schedule your in house alcohol server course at (504) 454-2277.

Voluntary courses are also offered online for ServSafe Allergens and ServSafe Food Handler. More than 15 million Americans have food allergies and the trend is growing each year. Allergens training can help you serve those guests with food allergies safely and gain their repeat business. Food Handler is a two-hour course covering the basics of food safety and sanitation for your front of the house and back of the house staff.

ServSafe Allergens is just $22 and ServSafe Food Handler is just $15. 

For more information, please call the LRA at (504) 454-2277 or visit www.lra.org. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

LRAEF Louisiana Seafood ProStart Student Invitational winners announced

The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) hosted the 14th Annual Louisiana Seafood ProStart® Student Invitational, March 3-4, 2015 at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. The Invitational showcased the culinary and academic talents of students from 20 high schools across Louisiana, and featured two primary components: the Culinary Competition and the Management Competition.

This was the third of a multi-year relationship with the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board, the competition’s title sponsor, and was represented by its Executive Director Karen Profita, who addressed the students, teachers and parents during the awards ceremony.

Lakeshore High School wins the 2015 LRAEF
Louisiana Seafood ProStart Culinary Competition
During the Culinary Competition, teams demonstrated their knife skills, poultry fabrication and creative abilities through the preparation of a three-course, gourmet meal in 60 minutes. All teams’ menus had to feature at least one type of the six Louisiana seafood species.

The winner of the Culinary Competition, for the second consecutive year, was Lakeshore High School in Mandeville, led by instructor Judy Achary and students Irelan Crosby, Autumn Hamm, Hunter Trahan and Gianna Nastas. The second place team was West Feliciana High School in St. Francisville, led by instructor Amy Dreher and students Kevonte Davis, Jonathan Tate, Sarah Alford, Jonah Fowler and Jordan Bringedahl. The third place team was Dutchtown High School in Geismar, led by instructor Traci Martin and students ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Haley Stone, Cameron Gautreau, Mitchell Bailey, Joube Ryan and Monique Theriot.

Lakeshore’s winning menu was: appetizer-Louisiana Shrimp Étouffée Cavitelli: ricotta cavitelli pasta, shrimp étouffée; entrée-Rabbit and Lobster Rissole: Rabbit and lobster roll, fried kale, turnip root purée, rabbit reduction; and dessert-Marscapone Lemon Curd Bombe: Marscapone and lemon curd bombe, raspberry macerate and crunchy twill.

Teams participating in the Management Competition demonstrated their knowledge of the restaurant and foodservice industry by developing a restaurant concept, including the menu, design, budget and marketing strategies, which they presented to a panel of judges as an entrepreneur would pitch to a group of investors.

The winner of the Management Competition was West Feliciana High School in St. Francisville, led by instructor Amy Dreher and students ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lexi Auxt, Jacob Manieri, Dalton Clevenger and Brandon Oliveaux. The second place team was Lakeshore High School in Mandeville, led by instructor Judy Achary and students Alex Gautreaux, Jacob Heffner, Gianna Nastas, Tracie Romano and Cole Krieger. The third place team was Hammond High Magnet School, led by instructor Angie Drago and students Todreion Amos, Savannah Hall and Terenisha Porter.
West Feliciana wins the 2015 LRAEF
Louisiana Seafood Management Competition.

West Feliciana’s winning restaurant concept was “Dalton’s Diner,” a restaurant serving Cajun and Creole classics in a 1950’s style diner, adjacent to a college campus.

Lakeshore High School and West Feliciana High School will represent Louisiana in the National ProStart Invitational in Anaheim, California, April 18-20, 2015.

Schools were also recognized for their individual achievements in various categories within the two competitions.

Culinary:
  • Knife Skills Award: Dutchtown High School
  • Safety & Sanitation Award: Grace King High School
  • Judges’ Pick- Appetizer: West Feliciana High School- pan seared sea scallop, oyster and crimini mushroom ravioli, with tarragon cream sauce and micro greens
  • Judges’ Pick- Entrée: St. James Parish Career & Technology Center- crab meat stuffed Louisiana jumbo shrimp with Mardi Gras potatoes and sautéed asparagus with hollandaise
  • Judges’ Pick- Dessert: Lakeshore High School- Marscapone and lemon curd bombe, raspberry macerate and crunchy twill
The courses chosen by the judges will be interpreted and served to the guests at the LRAEF’s annual Five Star Futures Gala Saturday, August 8, 2015 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside.

Management:
  • Judges’ Award- Restaurant Concept: West Feliciana High School
  • Judges’ Award- Critical Thinking: West Feliciana High School
  • Judges’ Award- Visual Display: Hammond High Magnet School
  • Judges’ Award- Verbal Presentation: North Vermilion High School
The 2015 LRAEF Louisiana Seafood ProStart Student Invitational Sponsors include: Louisiana Seafood, Acme Oyster House, Auto-Chlor Services, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Louisiana Restaurant Association, National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, Performance Foodservice Caro, Atmos Energy, Louisiana Culinary Institute, Camellia Brand, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, Louisiana Gas Association, Whole Foods, Alack Culinary Equipment & Supplies Superstore, Centerplate, Coca-Cola, Community Coffee, Custom Apparel, Ecolab, Freeman Decorating, Generations Hall and the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.

ProStart is a nationwide career technical education program where high-school students learn from an industry-derived, competency-based curriculum that teaches culinary techniques and restaurant management skills, coupled with real-life restaurant sector experiences. In addition to industry-specific skills, a majority of ProStart students report learning critical employability skills, including workplace and professional behavior, communications skills and teamwork.

The LRAEF pairs ProStart students and LRA members together in a mutually-beneficial relationship. Students are required to complete a 400-hour work internship, thus providing hands-on training. Many of LRA members serve as mentors to ProStart students. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

40 hours is full-time

The Affordable Care Act needs a check-up, the National Restaurant Association and American Hotel & Lodging Association said in a joint op-ed today.

One top concern: The health care law defines full-time as 30 hours a week.

"The ACA changed the definition of a full-time employee from someone who works the traditional 40-hour workweek to anyone who works 30 hours a week," NRA President & CEO Dawn Sweeney and AH&LA President & CEO Katherine Lugar write in The Hill. "Instead of benefiting workers, this provision is actually harming them ... Businesses of all sizes are having to reduce the hours of workers who had been working 40 hours a week."

The ACA's full-time definition affects which businesses are considered large employers, and which employees must be offered health coverage. The law exposes large employers to possible fines if they don't offer health plans to full-time employees and their dependents.


The ACA's so-called "employer mandate" covers businesses with the equivalent of 100 full-time employees this year, and employers with 50 to 99 full-time-equivalent employees starting in 2016.

The NRA supports bringing the ACA's definition of full-time employment more in line with traditional workplace standards. The House passed a bill in January to make the change, and more than 30 senators are now sponsoring the bipartisan "Forty Hours is Full Time Act" in the Senate. The NRA is a lead member of the "More Time for Full Time" initiative.

Read more about the impact of the ACA's 30-hour definition on restaurant and hotel employers.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Patent trolls are still coming after restaurants, and yours could be next

If your restaurant hasn’t been on the receiving end of a legal shakedown from a patent troll, your time may be running out.

Over the past few years, patent trolls—companies that purchase vague patents and threaten to sue restaurants and other businesses that don’t pay licensing fees for their use of common technologies—have cost the economy more than $20 billion a year. The number of lawsuits is on the rise. Patent Freedom, which collects data on patent troll activity, reports that 3,716 companies faced lawsuits from patent trolls in 2013, up from 3,352 the year before. 

And patent trolls aren’t just going after big companies. A 2012 study by Boston University researchers found that most defendants in suits brought by patent trolls were small or medium-sized companies—those that can least afford the often seven-figure costs of defending against patent infringement lawsuits.

Patent trolls have come after restaurants for common service-enhancing features like online ordering, in-store WiFi, and digital menu boards.

Seeking relief for restaurants
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) recently joined United for Patent Reform, a coalition of businesses and trade groups representing technology, retail, communications, construction and other sectors, to ask Congress to make changes to help end frivolous patent-infringement lawsuits.

Among other reforms, the coalition is seeking an end to vague demand letters designed to extract early settlements; clear, specific explanations from patent trolls regarding their interest in the patent; protections for the end users of products and technology; and requirements for patent trolls to pay plaintiffs’ legal costs when their infringement lawsuits are unsuccessful.

Help could be on the way in the form of the Innovation Act, recently introduced in the House by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). The bill aims to curb frivolous infringement lawsuits by requiring plaintiffs to disclose the owner of the patent and why they’re suing the defendant, as well as allow some of the costs of defense to be shifted to the plaintiff if the lawsuit is unsuccessful. The bill passed the House with bipartisan support in 2013 before stalling in the Senate.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Is E-Verify expansion on the horizon?

The House Judiciary Committee has passed the Legal Workforce Act, a bill to require businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to determine whether an employee is eligible to work in the United States.

The committee’s sign-off is the first step in a long process that would be required before the measure could become law.

E-Verify use is currently voluntary. About 500,000 employers use it, and 23 states have laws requiring some or all employers to use the system. The National Restaurant Association supports a federal law requiring businesses to use the system, to free them from the challenge of complying with different state and local laws requiring E-Verify.

“Uniformity and consistency are the keys to helping grow our workforce,” said Angelo Amador, the NRA’s senior vice president of labor and workforce policy and regulatory counsel. “Actions by 50 different states and numerous local governments in passing employment verification laws create an untenable system for employers and their prospective employees. A standardized E-Verify system would strike the right balance with the employer community and provide clarity and certainty in their hiring decisions.”

The NRA believes a national verification system is a key part of immigration reform but only if the system protects employers’ flexibility and limits liability. The Legal Workforce Act addresses some of those elements, including:

No cost to employers: E-Verify would continue to be available for employers at no charge under the Legal Workforce Act.

A reasonable time frame: The Legal Workforce Act would phase in a federal mandate according to a business’s size. Businesses with more than 10,000 employees would have six months to implement E-Verify after a law is enacted. Businesses with 500 to 9,999 employees would have a year to begin using E-Verify. Businesses with 20 to 499 employees would have 18 months, and all other businesses would have two years.

Legal protection for employers: Businesses that used E-Verify in good faith wouldn’t be prosecuted for errors in the system that happened through no fault of their own.

State law preemption: The Legal Workforce Act would prevent states from enacting their own laws requiring E-Verify.

It’s not clear when the Legal Workforce Act will go before the full House of Representatives for a vote, and the legislation would still require the approval of the Senate and President Obama to become law.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Older workers on tap as teen labor dips

The restaurant industry is the country’s largest employer of teenagers, but that labor pool is shrinking so operators are looking at alternative age groups to fill the gap, National Restaurant Association (NRA) research has found.

According to the 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast, restaurants currently provide jobs for 1.5 million people between the ages of 16 and 19. That means one-third of working teenagers in America today work at restaurants. Still, the number of teens in the overall workforce plunged from 41.3 percent in 2007 to 34.5 percent in 2013, a decline of 1.2 million individuals.

“The U.S. workforce continues to change, and the pool of restaurant job candidates with it,” said Hudson Riehle, the NRA’s senior vice president of research. “While the industry will remain an important training ground for young people getting their first job experience, it also provides opportunity for more seasoned workers looking for rewarding employment with flexible schedules.

In the wake of the decline in teen labor, more restaurant jobs have gone to older employees. In fact, the number of adults 55 or older working in the restaurant industry rose 32 percent during the same period, an increase of 180,000 individuals.

“Youth workforce participation has been declining for years, and teenagers have traditionally been a significant part of the industry’s workforce, often filling part-time and seasonal positions,” Riehle said. “However, aging baby boomers are staying in the workforce longer and filling some of those positions. And though older adults are a relatively small proportion of the industry’s workforce now, that number will only expand in future.”

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Louisiana ProStart students compete for nearly $1.2M in scholarships

Louisiana Seafood on board as title sponsor

The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) will host its 14th Annual Louisiana Seafood ProStart® Student Invitational, March 3-4, 2015 at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, Hall J. Nearly $1.2 million in scholarship opportunities will be awarded to students whose teams place in the top three in both the culinary and management competitions. The funds were donated from 10 of the leading post-secondary culinary and hospitality programs in the country, including: Culinary Institute of America, Louisiana Culinary Institute and John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University, among others. The Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board is the invitational’s title sponsor for the third consecutive year.

ProStart students compete in teams of
four and prepare a three-course gourmet
meal featuring Louisiana Seafood in
just one hour. 
“Nearly $1.2 million in scholarship awards available at a ProStart Invitational in a state of our size is impressive,” said LRA President & CEO Stan Harris. “It adds so much stature to our event and to our industry and illustrates that the schools providing these scholarships value the ProStart program.”

ProStart is a nationwide, two-year program for high school students that develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s industry leaders. By bringing industry and the classroom together, ProStart gives students a platform to discover new interests and talents and opens doors for fulfilling careers. Students are required to complete a 400-hour work internship, thus providing hands-on training. Many of LRA members serve as mentors to ProStart students and also hire them.

The invitational showcases the culinary and academic talents of high school junior and senior ProStart students from 21 schools across Louisiana. The invitational features two primary components: the Culinary Competition and the Management Competition.

During the Culinary Competition, Tuesday, March 3 from 10:45 a.m. – 5 p.m., teams will demonstrate their creative abilities through the preparation of a three-course, gourmet meal. All teams’ menus must feature at least one type of Louisiana seafood. Twenty-four judges from the foodservice industry and post-secondary educational institutions will observe and rate their performance during the competition. Judges volunteering their time and expertise include Chef Haley Bittermann of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, Chef Brian Landry of Borgne and Chef Kelly Fields of Restaurant August.

Chef Brian Landry of Borgne Restaurant
gives ProStart teams immediate feedback
as a Culinary Competition judge. 
Teams participating in the Management Competition, Wednesday, March 4 from 8:25 a.m. – 2:05 p.m., will demonstrate their knowledge of the restaurant and foodservice industry by developing a restaurant concept, including the menu, design, budget and marketing strategies which they present to a panel of judges as an entrepreneur who pitch to a group of investors. Judges include Dr. Yvette  Green of the Kabacoff School of Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism at UNO, Octavio Mantilla of the John Besh Restaurant Group, Tom Pyburn of Emeril’s Homebase and Keith Rush of the Louisiana Culinary Institute.

The 2015 LRAEF Louisiana Seafood ProStart Student Invitational Sponsors include: Louisiana Seafood, Acme Oyster House, Auto-Chlor Services, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Louisiana Restaurant Association, National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, Performance Foodservice Caro, Atmos Energy, Louisiana Culinary Institute, Camellia Brand, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, Louisiana Gas Association, Whole Foods, Alack Culinary Equipment & Supplies Superstore, Centerplate, Coca-Cola, Community Coffee, Custom Apparel, Ecolab, Freeman Decorating, Generations Hall and the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.

The participating schools in the Culinary Arts Competition are: Abbeville High School, Career Academy, Dutchtown High School, East Iberville High School, East St. John High School, Fontainebleau High School, Grace King High School, Hammond High Magnet School, John Ehret High School, Lakeshore High School, North Vermilion High School, Salmen High School, St. James Parish Career & Technology Center, Sulphur High School, Tara High School, West Feliciana High School, West St. John High School and Woodlawn High School. 

The participating schools in the Management Competition are: Alfred Bonnabel Magnet Academy, Donaldsonville High School, Lakeshore High School, Hammond High Magnet School, North Vermilion High School, Springfield High School, Tara High School, West Feliciana High School and Woodlawn High School.

The winning teams will go on to represent Louisiana at the National ProStart Invitational April 18-20, 2015 in Anaheim, Calif., where they will compete for an additional $1.4 million in scholarship dollars. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Attention LRA Members: Masters Tournament Opportunity

The Masters Tournament at Augusta is recruiting staff for the upcoming event April 1-12, 2015. This is an opportunity for you or a member of your team to gain experience working in a unique, world-class facility.

Staffing needs are: 2—Area Chefs; 2—Restaurant Chefs, 10—Sous Chefs; 3—Lead Cooks; and 2—Pastry Chefs.

Staff members are paid in one lump sum and this year’s rate is being finalized now.  For a basis of reference, last year’s rate was $250/day. Augusta covers Airfare & Airline fees, hotel (shared hotel room with other staff) and stipend for meals.


Interested individuals should contact Dickie Brennan at db@dbcno.com  by 4 p.m. this Friday, February 27th.   

Monday, February 23, 2015

6 factors consumers consider when choosing a restaurant

For consumers, choosing where to eat is a complex decision. Today’s diners are concerned about the quality of the food they're eating, but they're also looking at factors beyond food, like technology and a restaurant’s environmental impact. 

Here are six things consumers take into account when choosing a restaurant, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast:

Healthier options: More diners are looking for healthful options when they dine out, and restaurants are responding to that demand. More than eight in 10 restaurants say their guests are paying more attention to the nutrition content of their food today than they were two years ago. Diners are also seeing more options from restaurants, and 81 percent of adults say restaurants offer more healthful options than they did two years ago.

Eco-friendly dining:  When they choose a restaurant, many consumers are thinking about the earth as much as their palates. Nearly two-thirds of consumers say they’re likely to consider a restaurant’s eco-friendly practices when they decide where to eat.

Technology: The number of consumers who say technology options like smartphone apps or self-service kiosks are an important factor in choosing restaurants is on the rise, up to about 25 percent from roughly 20 percent a year ago. The increase spans generations, with older and younger customers alike expanding their use.

Quality, innovative food: Nine out of 10 consumers say food quality is an important factor in choosing a restaurant, and six in 10 claim to be more adventurous diners than they were two years ago. More than half are looking for innovative meals that they can’t make at home.

Local foods: Locally sourced meats and seafood and produce were near the top of the list of the NRA’s Top 25 lists of 2015 tableservice and limited-service menu trends. Find out what else is on the list, including trends in breakfast, appetizers, desserts and classic favorites.

Ethnic cuisine: When diners crave ethnic foods, odds are they’re heading for a restaurant. More than two-thirds of consumers say they’re more likely to order ethnic foods at a restaurant rather than trying to cook it at home.



Thursday, February 19, 2015

ATC sees drop in alcohol sales to underage during annual Mardi Gras crackdown

Agents with the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) conducted underage compliance checks at 860 businesses during its two week long Mardi Gras crackdown operation.  This is over triple the number of compliance checks conducted during the same period last year. As a result of the recent checks, 149 citations were issued for alcohol and tobacco sales to underage persons.

Below are statistics by parish on alcohol and/or tobacco products sold to underage persons from March 2nd through March 16th of 2015, compared to 2014:


“Statewide alcohol and tobacco sales to underage dropped from 33% last year to 17% this Mardi Gras season. Obviously, alcohol is a big part of Mardi Gras and it's great news to see that more and more businesses and servers are selling and serving it responsibly," stated ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert. 

Majority of the compliance checks were conducted using 16 and 17 year old undercover operatives. For Mardi Gras, ATC focused the majority of its checks in areas of the state with large parades and festivities.

Remember: The LRA is your solution provider for state-approved, alcohol server training through the ServSafe Alcohol online, two-hour course, available 24-7, anywhere an individual has access to a PC and an internet connection. LRA members receive preferred pricing. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

LRA Cenla Chapter funds $25k scholarship

Inaugural year for LRAEF scholarship to aid student in central Louisiana

The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) is pleased to announce that the LRA Cenla Chapter has established the LRA Cenla Chapter Scholarship to provide financial assistance to students in central Louisiana pursuing a career in the culinary and/or hospitality industry.

The chapter pledged $25,000 to the LRAEF, which will award one $5,000 or two $2,500 scholarships annually to eligible students for the next five years. This scholarship will be awarded to qualified applicants from the Cenla Chapter’s 11 parish area- Avoyelles, Beauregard, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Sabine, Vernon and Winn parishes.

In addition to the residency requirement, applicants must have a minimum 2.5 GPA and be accepted or enrolled in a qualified two- or four-year degree program, pursuing a career in the culinary/hospitality field.

Available for download at www.LRAEF.org, the application must be completed and postmarked by Friday, April 10, 2015.

“With a growing demand for skilled workforce in the restaurant and hospitality industry across the state, the LRA Cenla Chapter felt it was important to provide an opportunity for young people in our area to pursue such a career,” said LRA Cenla Chapter President Dave Merchant.

“The LRAEF is very appreciative to the Cenla Chapter for this generous scholarship donation,” said LRAEF Executive Director Alice Glenn. “Our industry offers great opportunities for rewarding careers and advancement. Our goal is to support promising future leaders as they prepare for the many lucrative restaurant careers in Louisiana.”

The LRAEF, a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization, exists to enhance the restaurant community through expanded educational and career opportunities, the formation of strategic partnerships and the elevation of professional standards and practices. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Alice Glenn, aglenn@lra.org or (504) 636-6526.

The LRAEF is grateful to the nine LRA chapters and its LRAEF sponsors: 5 Diamond—Acme Oyster House, Auto-Chlor Services, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Louisiana Restaurant Association, Louisiana Seafood and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation; 4 Diamond—Performance Foodservice-Caro; 3 Diamond—Atmos Energy, Camellia Brand, Louisiana Culinary Institute, New Orleans Wine & Food Experience and Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers; 2 Diamond—Louisiana Gas Association and Whole Foods Market.

Friday, February 13, 2015

ATC cites 83 businesses in Mardi Gras sting with 5 days to go

Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) agents have conducted over 600 alcohol and tobacco compliance checks across the state since February 2, 2015. Of those businesses checked, 83 sold alcohol and/or tobacco to underage operatives.

"With the five largest days to go until Mardi Gras, a 13% non-compliance rate is troublesome. Let me be clear to those businesses and servers; alcohol and tobacco permits are a privilege that come with a great deal of responsibility. Those being irresponsible may lose that privilege before Fat Tuesday," stated ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert.

ATC agents and undercover operatives will be working across the state to ensure that illegal sales of alcohol and tobacco do not dampen the Mardi Gras season.

"The majority of undercover operatives used by ATC are 16 and 17 years old. With the legal age to purchase alcohol being 21, there's simply no excuse for these irresponsible sales," added Hebert.

The Louisiana Restaurant Association offers ServSafe Alcohol online server training course at www.laserverpermit.com. For just $24 for members and $30 for non-members, individuals can spend two-hours completing the course anywhere they have a PC and an internet connection and obtain their state-approved responsible vendor permit. A portion of the course is dedicated to proper techniques for checking identification to determine whether a customer is of legal drinking age. 


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Judy Achary of Lakeshore High School named 2015 LRAEF ProStart® Educator of the Year

The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) has named Judy Achary of Lakeshore High School as its 2015 ProStart® Educator of the Year.

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

Achary, Lakeshore’s ProStart instructor since the school’s opening in 2009, was bestowed the honor during a special, surprise ceremony at the school, February 10, 2015.

2015 LRAEF Chair Lenny Raymond, Principal Dr. Jeanne
Wagner, Judy Achary, LRAEF ProStart Manager
Jennifer Jeansonne &  Executive Director Alice Glenn. 
“ProStart is so important to my students,” said Achary. “I always tell them that I’m teaching them real life skills. They can use what they are learning in class and apply it not only to a future career, but also in their everyday life.”

Under Achary’s direction, Lakeshore High School’s ProStart team won first place in the culinary competition at last year’s Louisiana Seafood ProStart Student Invitational and went on to represent the state proudly at the National ProStart Student Invitational in Minneapolis, Minn. Lakeshore will defend its title at the 2015 competition, March 3-4, at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. Achary also has the distinction of guiding 100 percent of her students to achieving the ProStart Certificate of Achievement.

“While we have many talented ProStart educators, Judy stood out as a most worthy choice for this year’s award,” said LRAEF Executive Director Alice Glenn. “Judy understands the importance of the curriculum and shares that knowledge with her students in a caring and enjoyable environment.”

Achary will travel to Chicago in May to be honored by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation as a nominee for the national ProStart Educator of Excellence Award.

The LRAEF, a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization, exists to enhance the restaurant community through expanded educational and career opportunities, the formation of strategic partnerships and the elevation of professional standards and practices. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Alice Glenn, aglenn@lra.org or (504) 636-6526.

The LRAEF is grateful to the nine LRA chapters and its LRAEF sponsors: 5 Diamond—Acme Oyster House, Auto-Chlor Services, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Louisiana Restaurant Association, Louisiana Seafood and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation; 4 Diamond—Performance Foodservice-Caro; 3 Diamond—Atmos Energy, Camellia Brand, Louisiana Culinary Institute, New Orleans Wine & Food Experience and Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers; 2 Diamond—Louisiana Gas Association and Whole Foods Market.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bipartisan bill would bring restaurant taxes down—permanently

The U.S. House and Senate are considering bills that would put in place a 15-year tax depreciation schedule for restaurant improvements and new construction, leasehold improvements and retail improvements. If the legislation passes Congress and is signed by President Obama, it would mean the end of the uncertainty that has led restaurant operators across the country to put improvement projects on hold while they awaited word on the tax treatment of the projects.

Historically, Congress has renewed the 15-year depreciation schedule every year or two, but partisan battles last year delayed renewal until just before the year ended and only applied retroactively for 2014. Without action, improvements and new construction will be subject to a 39.5-year depreciation schedule.

National Restaurant Association (NRA) research shows that a 15-year depreciation schedule is more in line with reality for restaurant operators. A 2014 NRA survey of 1,000 restaurateurs found that a majority of restaurant operators said it was necessary to renovate or remodel their dining areas and kitchens a median of every five years. Only eight percent of restaurant operators said they could wait more than 10 years to renovate or remodel their kitchen area, while just six percent said they could wait more than 10 years to improve their restaurant’s dining area.

The issue has bipartisan support, with bills being introduced in the Senate by Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) and in the House by Reps. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) and Richard Neal (D-Mass.). The latest 15-year depreciation schedule expired at the end of 2014. Both the House and Senate are most likely to vote on permanent extension of the 15-year schedule as part of a larger package of tax provisions.

Economic impact
The economic benefits of a 15-year depreciation schedule are felt well beyond the walls of restaurants. NRA research conducted in 2012 found three in 10 restaurateurs had delayed renovation and construction projects because they weren’t sure how those projects would be taxed. Those projects stood to generate $23 billion in economic activity and create 200,000 jobs across construction and other industries.


Typical renovations eligible for the 15-year depreciation schedule include the building shell, electrical system, fire protection systems, lighting, security systems, ceramic tile, HVAC, plumbing, and restroom fixtures and accessories.