Washington Restaurant Weekly: Restaurants respond to President Obama’s State of the Union address

“The President focused much of his State of the Union address on policies aimed at strengthening the economy,” said Scott DeFife, the National Restaurant Association’s executive vice president of policy and government affairs, in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. “As the largest trade association representing the restaurant and foodservice industry, the National Restaurant Association is proud of the industry’s role as a leading job creator, providing opportunities to 10 percent of our nation’s workforce. One in three individuals started their career working in the industry, which means restaurants are training America’s workforce and teaching vital skills that serve people for a lifetime.

“We share the mutual goal of growing the economy and creating pathways to the middle class for all working Americans. We support the renewed focus on training and skill development, and reforming the nation’s immigration system.

“It is important to remind our national policymakers that the employer community is a diverse set of small and large enterprises with varying business models and workforce profiles. We need to avoid prescriptive, one-size-fits-all mandates on private sector industries like the restaurant industry that have thrived without the added costs and intrusions of labor unions. We would hope that rather than proposing these mandates, the Administration would work with the private sector to achieve its goals in a manner that allows businesses like restaurants, which are very different than traditional 9-to-5 workplaces, to continue to grow and create jobs.

“Recent history has shown the unintended consequences of overly prescriptive mandates, such as those embedded in the ACA’s employer mandate, as negatively impacting employment opportunities, especially for those with little or no work experience.”

Hill Climb coming on January 26: Restaurants serve!

Restaurants serve is the theme for Hill Climb and Taste Our Best 2015. This idea came out of extensive polling, surveys and studies the WRA has conducted to learn the public’s perception of our industry. In our efforts, we learned that you are the best advocate for your business. This isn’t a surprise to anyone who has worked with restaurateurs or in a restaurant. Restaurants serve their community. Local restaurants provide useful training and career opportunities. Most restaurants are small businesses.

During Hill Climb we are bringing these true messages to the attention of the public and law makers. One of the ways we are doing that is the creation of a mobile webpage that you can reach from a QR code. This webpage combines important statistics with vital messages about our industry. Today you can get a sneak peak of what guests of Hill Climb will be able to see by using the QR code on materials they get at the event. Check it out at www.wrahillclimb.com and tell us what you think!

Don’t forget – if you attend Hill Climb you are also invited to the Olympia Hands On Children’s Museum for the Taste Our Best legislative reception. There you can enjoy Washington’s finest craft beverages and restaurant cuisine. The reception is the premier event of the legislative season. We hope to see you there!

Tacoma City Council will consider paid sick leave, January 27

In December, Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland introduced a Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance to the City Council. For the past 30 days, Mayor Strickland and the City Council have listened to feedback and discussed potential amendments to the proposed ordinance. A final public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, January 27, 5 p.m. in the City Council chambers at the Tacoma Municipal Building (747 Market St.). At this meeting, the Council will hear public testimony and potentially approve the proposed ordinance, making it law in Tacoma.  Although the proposed ordinance isn’t ideal, please note that it does not contain many of the unfavorable features of Seattle’s ordinance and provides much more flexibility for business owners. The WRA wants to ensure that the City Council recognizes the effects any amendments or changes to the ordinance would have on local restaurants. Please consider attending this hearing and publicly testifying. Contact the WRA’s Samantha Louderback for more information.

U.S. Supreme Court rejects challenge to debit card swipe-fee rules

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to debit card “swipe fee” rules. This is a loss for retailers, grocers and restaurant owners who argued these charges were unfairly high. The fees to banks are paid by businesses when customers make debit card purchases. A March 2014 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that found the 21 cents per transaction fees were appropriate remains in effect due to the high court’s refusal to hear the challenge.

Queseria Bendita recalls fresh cheeses and sour creams due to possible health risk

Queseria Bendita LLC is recalling all lots of Panela, Queso Fresco, Requeson, Cotija fresh soft cheese products and sour cream to include those with best by dates up to April 16 due to potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems.  Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms like high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. The recalled products were distributed to Hispanic grocery stores in Washington and Oregon and sold at the company’s on-site store in Yakima.

WRA’s Shannon Garland and Sarah Louderback on DineNW radio show, now online


Don’t miss this week’s DineNW radio show, now online. Co-hosts Andy Cook and Paul Schlienz chat with the Washington Restaurant Association’s Shannon Garland about Hill Climb and Taste Our Best, coming soon to Olympia on January 26. Andy then talks with Samantha Louderback, the WRA’s new local government coordinator.


Washington Restaurant Market Watch: Restaurants court tech savvy kids

Ever wonder why so many restaurants feature cute characters and other features designed to appeal to children? It’s no accident. When families eat out, children often cast the deciding vote on which eatery is ultimately patronized. Thus, it’s good business for restaurants to target children. The kids of today, however, are significantly different from those of even 20 years ago. The post-Millennial Generation Z is the most tech savvy age cohort ever. Not surprisingly, restaurants are working overtime to create creative new ways of attracting this age group, and it is through means like cell phones that this important demographic is being courted. Read more…

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