a la carte - Spring 2022

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WORKFORCE FOCUS Programs to Hire, Train and Retain

Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022


Letter from the Chair Dear LRA Members, It has been a busy Spring here in Louisiana for the restaurant industry! The return of festivals, concerts, graduations and Mother’s Day has me walking through my days with a “spring” in my step. From reopening our Juban’s Restaurant in Baton Rouge, after closing during COVID and after a major renovation, we are hoping for a bright future. I have been visiting our LRA Chapters to install their boards of directors, attended the NRA Public Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., and LRA Day at the Capitol, so it has been a whirlwind of getting back to what feels more and more like prepandemic normalcy. The LRA’s mission is to advance and protect Louisiana’s restaurant and foodservice industry. At the federal level, we partner with the National Restaurant Association which during the last 2+ years has been more critical than ever in the LRA’s 76-year history. I was proud to join my fellow LRA Members and restaurateurs for the NRA Public Affairs Conference as we walked the halls of Congress and heard policy briefings from former Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senator Joe Manchin (D – W.V.), who shared their views on our industry and its impact in our communities. We shared with our Louisiana Congressional Delegation the challenges many of our members are facing in finding enough workers to meet the needs of their operations. At the Louisiana Capitol, the LRA Advocacy Team is past the halfway point in the 2022 Legislative Session which runs through June 6. They are actively lobbying numerous bills that, if passed, could have a detrimental effect to our member operations and their operating margins. Most notable from the 2021 Session was the LRA’s ability to secure $77M in tourism promotion from the state’s American Rescue Plan (ARP). The process is underway to secure a large sum for tourism promotion from the second round of ARP funds being granted to the state. More than 50 members convened for LRA Day at the Capitol—the annual lobby event for members to hear from legislative leadership; hear from LRA President and CEO Stan Harris; and visit the Capitol and the LRA House, the Advocacy Team’s location in Baton Rouge. Finally, Chalmette High School ProStart® represented Louisiana at the National ProStart Invitational in early May. This is the first time the winning teams of both the Louisiana culinary and management competitions hailed from the same school. What we thought was unique, we learned that nationally, 13 states including ours, had winning ProStart culinary and management teams from the same school. Congratulations to ProStart Educator Elena Hodges, who during the pandemic, never wavered in her dedication to prepare her students for what the future holds. Thank you for your continued support of the LRA. Your investment in the LRA through dues and support of its mandated training and other programs provides the funds necessary for us to effectively represent the needs of our members at all levels of government. Helping to avoid unintended consequences of bad legislation or an ordinance or a creep in regulations is part of the LRA’s focus each and every day on your behalf.


Michael Boudreaux Juban’s Restaurant and SoLou


Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022

Letters to the Editor Dear Stan, Thanks so much for generously hosting me at the Louisiana Restaurant Association House for my recent fundraiser. With your help, I believe our campaign is in a strong position for my reelection as Louisiana’s Insurance Commissioner next year. This has certainly been a challenging time with insurance issues, starting last year with the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing through two legislative sessions focused on tort reform followed by Hurricanes Laura, Delta, Zeta, and Ida. I issued appropriate emergency rules at the outbreak of COVID-19 and in the aftermath of Hurricanes Laura and Ida to include midterm audits on business insurance to lower premiums due to new risk levels, temporary bans on cancellations and non-renewals, requiring coverage for temporary housing expenses even without an evacuation order, and mandating coverage for patients who can utilize telemedicine services, amongst other protections. The devastation caused by hurricanes to the Lake Charles, New Orleans and the Bayou areas, as well as throughout our state, has kept the Louisiana Insurance Department busy, helping insurance consumers and their agents face a multitude of challenging issues. It is an honor to be able to serve our state’s citizens and businesses, especially in these challenging times. Without loyal supporters like you, I may not be where I am and have the opportunity to help our state. As always, I appreciate your generosity and friendship, and I look forward to continuing to work with you for a better Louisiana. With best wishes, I remain gratefully yours, Jim Donelon Commissioner of Insurance Dear LRA Hospitality PAC, I wanted to thank you for inviting me to the LRA’s 11th Annual Legislative Session Kick-Off Dinner*. The event was a great success, and I truly enjoyed visiting with everyone. If I can ever be of assistance to you, my door is always open. John M. Schroder State Treasurer * The LRA hosts a Kick-Off Dinner the evening prior to the first day of the Louisiana Legislative Session. Attendees for the event include statewide elected officials, legislators and their spouses.

Dear Stan, Thank you so much for your continued friendship and support. You are truly appreciated. It means a lot to me to know I can always count on you, and I look forward to continuing working with you to build a strong Louisiana. Clay Schexnayder Speaker of the House, District 81 Dear Stan, Thank you for your generous donation from the LRA Hospitality Political Action Committee to my campaign. You can count on me to use the resources you’re investing in me to seek positions where I can best serve and make a positive impact. With your help, I intend to continue fighting to bring resources and opportunity back to our people while protecting our core values, respect for each other, and pride in our state. It’s such an honor to work for smaller, smarter governments so our state can progress in a way that we can all take great pride. John Stefanski Louisiana State Representative, District 42 Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022


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Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022

Louisiana Restaurant Association 2700 N. Arnoult Rd. Metairie, LA 70002 Tel: (504) 454-2277 or (800) 256-4572 Fax: (504) 454-2299 www.LRA.org


President & CEO: Stan Harris Editor-In-Chief: Wendy Waren wwaren@LRA.org Multimedia Specialist: Brian Rome brome@LRA.org


Social & Digital Media Coordinator: Nicole Koster nkoster@LRA.org

7 Capitol Hill, the place to be as restaurants recover

LRA members take to the hall of Congress to deliver message of workforce development needs.


Lawmakers pause to recognize state’s restaurants When it comes to advocacy, LRA members show up in numbers at the annual Day at the Capitol.

30 Member spotlights usher in culture, diversity and inclusion The LRA welcomes new operators, voices and leaders, sharing their stories to harness what makes each unique.

Follow the LRA on social media for updates on the restaurant industry, advocacy issues, and news about YOU, our members!




Louisiana Restaurant Association

Cover Photo by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee


à la carte (USPS 1920) is the official publication of the Louisiana Restaurant Association. Published quarterly by the Louisiana Restaurant Association. Advertising: Want to reach restaurants to use your products or services? Inquire about advertising in à la carte. Call Wendy Waren at (504) 636-6518. Subscriptions: Rates are $25 per year. LRA members: $25 of your membership dues goes toward your yearly subscription. Postmaster: Send address changes to à la carte, 2700 N. Arnoult Road, Metairie, LA 70002 and additional entry offices. Periodical postage paid at Metairie, LA.

Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022


Tax Incentives Still Available for Restaurants By: Randy Crabtree, CPA

Pandemic-era PPP loans, EIDL loans, the Employee Retention Tax Credit and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund are coming to an end. But savvy restaurant owners can still take advantage of the ERTC, plus many other incentives that have been part of the IRS tax code since well before the pandemic started. Here are several important credits and techniques to ask your advisors about:

1. Employee Retention Tax Credit Officially the ERTC expired in the 4th quarter of 2021. But restaurants and other businesses that suffered capacity restrictions or a significant decline in gross receipts in 2020 and 2021, can still amend their returns for the next two or three years if they find they would have qualified for the ERTC. If you experienced a 50 percent drop in revenue for any 2020 quarter compared to a comparable quarter in 2019, you will generally qualify. NOTE: ERTCs can be worth up to $21,000 per employee per year for 2021 and $5,000 per employee per year for 2020. If you qualify for ERTC but you didn’t get a chance to claim it, you may do so retroactively (back to March 13, 2020) on Form 941-X.

2. Cost Segregation Cost segregation allows you to accelerate depreciation on certain fixed assets your business owns. If you have improved or expanded your restaurant, cost segregation allows you to accelerate the time needed to write off those expenses from the usual 39 years to as little as one year for a large portion of those expenses. Just make sure you have a cost-seg study done by a qualified professional first.


Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022

3. 179D Commercial Buildings Energy Efficient Tax Deduction Larger restaurants and other businesses (10,000+ square feet) can often claim a 179D tax deduction for installing qualifying HVAC, lighting, or other energy efficient systems in their buildings.

4. Work Opportunity Tax Credit The WOTC is a federal tax credit available to employers that invest in American job seekers who have consistently faced barriers to employment. Examples include ex-offenders, qualified IV-A recipients, or those on supplemental nutrition or social security assistance. You can receive up to $9,600 in credits per qualifying employee per year. IRS has more on qualifying employees.

5. The R&D Tax Credit The R&D tax credit rewards businesses for developing new or improved products or processes. Large restaurants with test kitchens may qualify. You may also qualify if you developed quality control methods for shipping.

Conclusion If you have any questions about qualifying (or claiming) the valuable credits summarized above, please contact your certified public accountant for details.

Restaurateurs Return to D.C. for

NRA Public Affairs Conference

Watch Sean Kennedy, EVP of Public Affairs for the NRA as he gives a recap of the conference— speakers, issues and number of Congressional visits. Pages 8-13 cover each key issue with a policy brief to educate on the desired outcome for restaurants.

by Wendy Waren

After a two-year hiatus of the in-person National Restaurant Association (NRA) Public Affairs Conference, the return of restaurateurs to the U.S. Capitol was overdue. Hundreds of restaurateurs, 25 from Louisiana, flew in to D.C. April 25-27 for the two-day event. The first day featured guest speakers and policy briefing designed to educate restaurateurs for day two of the conference, which was Capitol Hill Visits with their Congressional Delegations. “Throughout the last two years, we’ve experienced the powerful results of what can happen when Restaurants Act,” said Scott Redler, Chair of the 2022 conference. “Together with restaurant owners and operators, employees, state associations, and our industry partners, we came together to affect change at every level of government.”

LRA Members are all smiles as Day 1 of the NRA Public Affairs Conference gets underway. From left to right, Jeff Conaway of Beausoleil, Scott Taylor of Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux, 2022 LRA Chair Michael Boudreaux with wife Laura of Juban’s and SoLou, Chris Esteve of Domenica, Stephen Hightower of City Group Hospitality, Octavio Mantilla of BRG Hospitality, Emery Whalen of QED Hospitality, Tommy Cvitanovich of Drago’s, Scott Ricci of Drago’s, Michael Maenza of MMI Culinary and SWEGS and John Eastman of Auto-Chlor.

The pandemic dealt a series of blows to restaurants that have only been compounded by variants like Delta and Omicron, supply chain disruptions, waffling consumer demand and slowing government response. At the top of the list for the 35th Annual Public Affairs Conference, the NRA lasered in on issues that would help ease the workforce woes plaguing restaurants of all sizes in communities near and far. Redler continued, “Today, as the dark veil of the pandemic begins to lift, we know there is still much more to do before the industry can fully recover. Our Association’s mission, ‘To serve our industry and impact its success,’ has never been more relevant, and we look forward to continuing to work together to serve every restaurant.”

Congresswoman Julia Letlow engages with LRA Members on the importance of the Essential Workers for Economic Advancement Act (EWEA). Pictured left to right: Letlow, Michael Boudreaux, Bruce Attinger, Tommy Cvitanovich, John Eastman, Emery Whalen and Michael Maenza.

LRA Director Emery Whalen speaks to Congressman Steve Scalise about the risks of removing the tip credit and tipping system and reinstating the Employee Retention Tax Credit Reinstatement Act for the fourth quarter of 2021. To Whalen’s right is QED Hospitality’s Brian Landry.

Congressman Troy Carter stops in to address LRA members at the association’s hosted dinner at Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab, April 27, 2022.

Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022


Policy Brief:

Workforce Development Essential Workers for Economic Advancement Act BROADENING WORKFORCE OPPORTUNITIES IN THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY With more than 14M workers in nearly 1M establishments, the foodservice industry is the nation’s second largest private sector employer. Roughly half of restaurant operators expect recruiting and retention will be their top challenge this year, according to the Association’s 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report. In 2019, more than a third of operators rated recruitment and retention as their top challenge. Although there’s no silver bullet to solve this challenge, more people and workforce opportunities are critical to supporting the restaurant industry’s and nation’s economic growth.


Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022

The restaurant industry’s people are its greatest asset, making it more diverse than any other sector in the economy and one of the most innovative and adaptive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the shortage in workers has placed a tremendous strain on restaurants’ abilities to recruit and retain employees. This has forced restaurants to limit their seating capacity, close additional hours, and integrate more automation for efficacy. The Essential Workers for Economic Advancement (EWEA) Act would expand the country’s workforce specifically in occupations that provide growth opportunities and career paths without a college degree by creating a 3-year market-driven nonimmigrant visa program.

HOW WOULD THE PROPOSED EWEA PROGRAM WORK? The EWEA program would connect prospective workers with employers, both of whom must meet participation requirements. Once an employer has been approved, a prospective EWEA employee would be matched for a specific position and location. EWEA employees have the ability to move between qualifying positions available at EWEA employers and the potential to advance with growth and training. EWEA employers and employees must participate in employment verification through E-Verify. EWEA employers must prove that the position has remained unfilled for a set period of time and that no equally or better qualified U.S. worker who applied is ready, willing, and able to fill the position.


Specialty Occupations Workforce Program

Capacity at 65,000.

Capacity at 65,000.

Could go up to 85,000 (or down to 45,000) through a market-based mechanism.

An additional 20,000 for graduate degree holders from U.S. universities.

Prohibits family members from joining participants in the U.S.

Allows family members to join participants in the U.S.

Authorized to work for an initial 3 years with extensions allowed for up to an additional 6 years.

Authorized to work for an initial 3 years with extensions allowed for a maximum of 3 years.

WHY THE PROPOSED EWEA PROGRAM WORKS FOR RESTAURANTS The restaurant industry is one of the nation’s leading trainers, equipping employees with business acumen, leadership abilities, and communication skills that are highly transferable by other industries. The EWEA program allots 25% of employees for businesses like restaurants that promote nationally recognized employee safety and health programs, hire workers under the work opportunity tax credit (WOTC) or have comparatively low sales per employee. While that figure may appear small, the contributions that these employees make will be significant. EWEA employees will help grow the restaurant industry’s economic impact and acquire valuable skills that can be utilized throughout their career. The restaurant industry urges Congress to pass the Essential Workers for Economic Advancement Act.

Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022


Policy Brief:

Tip Credit Maintaining the tip credit and tipping system is critical for employee earnings and restaurant growth For more than a decade, restaurants and tipped employees have fought to protect the long-standing tip wage system by defeating every effort to eliminate their earning potential. Maintaining the tip credit and tipping system provides tipped employees with greater earning potential and restaurant owners with a capability to reinvest in nontipped employees and their businesses.

According to new research from the National Restaurant Association, waitstaff at full-service restaurants earn a median of $27 per hour, with the highest paid tipped employees making $41.50. Restaurants still have not recovered nearly 800,000 jobs lost in the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining the tip credit and tipping system will help restaurants grow their workforce. Keeping the tip credit and tipping system in place has bipartisan support across the country. Recent attempts to eliminate the tip credit in Chicago, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., were soundly defeated after tipped employees spoke out about why they prefer the tip credit system.


Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022

What is the tip credit? The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) creates a tip wage – a base wage on top of which tips are added—in recognition of the unique business models of full-service restaurants.

Safeguards in the tip credit If the combination of the tipped employee’s base wage plus tips does not meet or exceed the local minimum wage, which in Louisiana’s case is the same as the federal minimum wage, then the restaurant must make up the difference. So, the myth that tipped employees make less than minimum wage is simply not true. The FLSA provides strong protections for workers, and ensures that tipped employees never earn less than the required minimum wage. Restaurants face significant financial penalties and legal repercussions if they do not pay tipped employees accurately.

Risk of removing the tip credit and tipping system Tipping attracts potential employees to choose restaurants as a first job, side job, second chance, or a career. It’s the credit and tipping system that helps provide employees with jobs, training, and career advancement. Eliminating the tip credit and tipping system will force restaurants to switch to an hourly wage system that would ultimately reduce earnings, employee hours, and the number of employees. It would also go against the wishes of hard-working employees who strive to create exceptional customer experiences and contribute to the restaurant industry’s proud diversity. Additionally, a March 2022 Association survey found that 75% of customers prefer the existing tipping system. The math is simple. Ending the tip credit and tipping system is bad for employees and restaurants.

Policy makers can protect employees’ earning potential and help restaurants grow their business Tipped employees, restaurant owners and customers have made it clear: the tip credit and the current tipping system work.

The restaurant industry urges Congress to preserve the tip credit and tipping system, which have been a driving force toward advancement for workers and owners.

Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022


Policy Brief:


Employee Retention Tax Credit Reinstatement Act Restoring tax credits will help restaurants in peril Small businesses now face a tax claw back The ERTC program allowed small businesses to withhold tax payments. Restaurants that did so or budgeted for a credit payment, but have not received it, now face an unexpected federal tax liability. For example, one family owned restaurant in Texas that has yet to receive ERTC refunds owed more than $1.14 million in unexpected taxes. Policymakers can help small businesses with tax credits Delays from unprocessed filings and mounting tax penalties could serve as the final blow to small business restaurants on the verge of permanent closure unless Congress acts. The restaurant industry urges Congress to pass the bipartisan ERTC Reinstatement Act (H.R. 6161, S. 3625).


Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022

A valuable COVID-19 relief tool that helped to keep many restaurants afloat during the pandemic, the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) was cut short in the fall of 2021, at a time when COVID-19 variants drastically altered consumer demand, decreased sales and reversed the restaurant industry’s recovery. Restoring the badly needed program for Q4 (October-December) 2021 will help struggling small businesses now facing extensive refund delays and unexpected tax penalties.

Restaurants are overwhelmingly eligible for ERTC To be eligible for ERTC, businesses must have experienced a 20% or more loss in gross receipts for a calendar quarter or a government-ordered capacity restriction. The first to close in the pandemic, restaurants have been the last to reopen. Approximately 60% of restaurants experienced losses of 20% or more in Q4 according to a January 2022 National Restaurant Association survey.

Delays put restaurants in a dangerous position IRS delays in processing approximately 440,000 amended Form 941 applications are putting restaurants in a perilous position, with many waiting 9 months or more for funds. Because of this, during the 2021 tax season, small business restaurants that applied for ERTC lost standard tax deductions for payroll and benefits, creating a severe cash on hand shortfall.

“We kept on our 100+ team through the worst of the pandemic, and we are glad we did. The ERTC was a lifesaver, flowing right through our restaurants and to their wages. However, too many restaurants are still struggling and need this targeted support.”

Efforts continue to Replenish the RRF THERE IS BIPARTISAN SUPPORT TO REPLENISH THE RESTAURANT REVITALIZATION FUND (RRF). The U.S. House of Representatives voted to replenish the RRF with an additional $42B on April 7, 2022, and the bill now moves to the U.S. Senate for passage. The RRF has been an incredibly effective recovery tool for the restaurant industry, but its initial appropriation of $28.6B has left 177,000 eligible restaurants without funds. A $300B loss in sales during the first 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with runaway inflation, supply chain disruptions, and a workforce shortage, means countless restaurants are still struggling to survive. Replenishing the RRF can provide immediate relief to these small business restaurants who are still in need.

Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022


You are cordially invited to

LRA Day at the Capitol sees record attendance

TUESDAY, MAY 3, 2022

The LRA’s annual “lobby” day at the Louisiana State Capitol was May 3, 2022 and more than 50 were in attendance. At a time when restaurateurs are clawing their way through the pandemic recovery, they took time out of the bustling spring schedules to turn out in record numbers, warranting an additional table at the luncheon. Leading the program was LRA President and CEO Stan Harris, who gave a briefing on recent issues and those ahead in the final weeks of the session, which ends June 6.

Baton Rouge City Club 355 North Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70801

Lunch & Program Noon – 2 p.m.

Guest speakers included Senator Sharon Hewitt of District 1 in Slidell, who has made her intentions known that she plans to run for governor in 2023; and Senator Kirk Talbot, Chairman of the Insurance Committee, and LRA Member, who owns the famed Lucky Dogs hot dog carts throughout the French Quarter.


An Issue Briefing By Stan Harris “The conversations I have with Kirk are almostLRA identical President and CEO to those I have with LRA members across the state,” said Stan Harris, LRA President and CEO. “Questions like, ‘Why have wages increased so quickly? Why are all my costs growing so fast? I can’t find enough qualified workers even though they are averaging $30 per hour.”

In both the Senate and the House, the LRA and the 2022

& Leadership were recognized by Senator Hewitt and

Representative John Illg, respectively. Members visited with the LRA Advocacy Team and had the opportunity to send a floor note requesting face time with their lawmakers. Honorable The Honorable

Guest Speakers

The Honorable


Following the lunch program, LRA members shuttled The finale of the day wasJohn the LRASchroder Member reception at over to the Louisiana State Capitol where Istrouma Sharon Hewitt Gary Smith the LRA House—the association’s advocacy home base and Plaquemine High Schools’ ProStart students were Louisiana Senate Louisiana State Treasurer Senate year-round as a place for meetings, fundraisers and providing samples of their cuisine in the Rotunda. PriorLouisianaused District 1 Districtreceptions 19 political in nature. Restaurateurs noshed on to the Senate convening at 1 p.m. there was a flurry of chargrilled Gulf oysters from Acme Oyster House and activity and Plaquemine ProStart was quickly depleted of street tacos from Tio Javi’s. their treats. Istrouma ProStart served street tacos before the House convened at 2 p.m.

Capitol Visit

2 - 4 p.m. Showcasing Plaquemine High School Association | a la carte | Spring 2022 14 Louisiana Restaurant ProStart Program (Shuttle Service Provided)

LRA Member Reception 4:30 - 6 p.m. 1312 Ted Dunham Ave. With cuisine by Acme Oyster House & Tio Javi’s

Senator Kirk Talbot addresses his fellow LRA members and speaks to insurance issues on his legislative agenda.

Senator Sharon Hewitt speaks to her vision for the future of Louisiana – improving the business climate and the educational outcomes.

Prior to the LRA Day at the Capitol program, members have the opportunity to visit and meet their peers from across the state.

Click here to watch the recap Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022


Legislative Session kicks off with focus on spending funds from feds by Stan Harris & Wendy Waren

The 2022 Louisiana Legislative Session convened on March 14, and Governor John Bel Edwards addressed lawmakers to commemorate the occasion and outline his legislative package. However, before he delved into the focus of his speech, he reviewed the impact of the Covid pandemic and stated, “On March 11, 2020 I signed a public health emergency for COVID-19. And while it changed to reflect the ebb and flow of the pandemic, it has remained in effect since then. This Wednesday [March 16], the order expires. And after 24 months, I will not be renewing it.” This is a unique legislative session where the state is projecting over $800 million dollars in surplus revenue from tax collections. You may recall that last fall, the voters of Louisiana agreed to lower the effective individual income tax rates for agreeing to accept adjustments to the allowable deduction for federal tax liability and itemized deductions. This surplus is the result of 2021 receipts and should dissipate after the 2022 collections.

With respect to infrastructure, Edwards’ proposal included more than $1.1 billion in one-time expenses for roads, bridges, ports, railways, water and sewage systems, etc. Edwards also proposed the dedication of $550 million in ARP funds to replenish Louisiana’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which had been funded at historically high levels prior to the pandemic. The Constitution limits the use of one-time dollars and the ARP and Infrastructure funding fall into this restriction. “Our businesses are still recovering from the pandemic,” Edwards stressed. “If we don’t replenish the trust fund, it could trigger an increase in employment taxes on all businesses in the state – big and small, which pay into the Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022

Establishing, increasing state minimum wage gets committee hearing LRA members report regularly they are paying higher wages than ever post-pandemic; however, proponents of hourly increases claim that it’s still necessary to create a state minimum wage. The House Labor Committee heard those bills and several others April 29. Several bills proposed a constitutional amendment to establish and raise the state minimum wage. Another Senate bill sought to require employers with more than five workers to provide paid sick leave. Rep. Tammy Phelps of Shreveport filed legislation seeking to double the tip credit from $2.13 to $4.26 per hour, erroneously suggesting it would only impact 4,000 tipped individuals.

“If we don’t replenish the trust fund, it could trigger an increase in employment taxes on all businesses in the sate – big and small, which pay into the trust fund. That’s the last thing we need right now.”

The state budget is also blessed to be receiving the second and final tranche of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding estimated at $1.6 billion next fiscal year. Additionally, the state will receive significant dollars from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Edwards urged lawmakers to take the opportunity to shape our state’s future. Within his request for appropriations, early childhood and higher education needs and educator pay raises took top billing.


trust fund. That’s the last thing we need right now.”

The author had no one from the industry appear to testify and support her bill. One of the proponents relied upon data that was 22 years old. One of the strengths of our advocacy efforts is when the LRA asks our members to appear to provide testimony based on their specific business, they accept. Two Baton Rouge Chapter members, Megan Braniff-Klock of Ruffino’s Italian Restaurant and Kevin Kimball of Stab’s Prime/ Wayne Stabiler Enterprises, testified in opposition to the proposal to double the tip credit hourly wage, explaining the immediate financial impact to their restaurants. “We currently employ 188 people, and those that receive the tipped wage, their hourly rate on the low side is $15.57 an hour and on the high rate it’s $52.19,” BraniffKlock cited in her testimony. “As you can see, even at the low end, our tipped employees are making twice the minimum wage.” It was noted that all employers of tipped workers are required to guarantee tipped staff receive at least the minimum wage for each hour worked. Both LRA members answered questions from the committee to a degree of depth that made the final vote to defeat the bill certain as the hearing progressed. The multiple other wage bills that followed also died in committee.

“As you can see, even at the low end, our tipped employees are making twice the minimum wage.” Another bill that could be of impact to LRA members was SB 284 by Senator Franklin Foil, which proposed methods to expand the collection of judicially ordered judgments to include tips. The LRA Advocacy Team worked with the author and the constituent for whom he brought the bill to explain that tips are not the property of the restaurant, but instead the employee. The author amended the bill to include only the amount of tips reported to the employer by the employee. With turnover and the timespecific requirements on a court ordered garnishment, the LRA wanted to avoid our members being on the hook for a non-timely notice of a lack of wages, or a possible termination or resignation which could create a liability owed by the restaurant operator. Cottage food bill seeks to increase home-based business revenue Louisiana’s Cottage Food Law allows for a home-based business to sell direct or online at private residences, roadside stands, special events and farmers’ markets. The state also allows retail sales in businesses like restaurants, grocery stores and coffee shops for all products except breads, cakes, cookies and pies provided they carry labeling that notes “not produced in an inspected facility.” The current law caps annual gross revenue at $20,000.

Megan Brandiff-Klock, Director of Operations for Ruffino’s and Kevin Kimball of Stab’s Steak testified in opposition of doubling the tipped wage. Watch the Full Testimony Here [minute 36].

“Once you get into that scope of production, you should become a licensed and inspected bakery and pay the necessary taxes and fees that a commercial bakery has to abide by.”

HB 828 by Rep. Horton sought to increase the gross revenue amount to $100,000. This significant amount caught the attention of LRA Member Adam Ducote of Counterspace Baton Rouge, where his wife/partner Sarah Joy Hayes runs the from-scratch bakery on Perkins Road. While Louisiana doesn’t require cottage food producers to have health inspections, occupational licenses or report its income, $100,000 in gross revenue crosses the line as to fairness when competing with brick and mortar operations.


“If you’re doing $100,000 in revenue you definitely need employees to produce it,” said Ducote. “Once you get into that scope of production, you should become a licensed and inspected bakery and pay the necessary taxes and fees that a commercial bakery has to abide by.”

with Will DuBos

The LRA Advocacy Team lobbied in advance of its April 13 hearing in the House Health and Welfare Committee, and was able to secure an amendment to allow the cap to be raised to just $30,000. We will continue to monitor the legislation as it proceeds to the Senate.





Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022


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May is Mental Health Awareness Month Since 1949, May has been observed as Mental Health Awareness Month, but only in recent years has the subject become discussed in the mainstream. The pandemic exacerbated and, in some cases, ushered in mental health challenges for some among us – many of us in the restaurant industry. “My mental health has been something I’ve become acutely aware of in recent years,” said Wendy Waren, VP of Communications for the LRA. “Managing crisis communications during a pandemic for the most impacted industry brought on panic attacks and severe anxiety. My therapist attributed these symptoms to those associated with PTSD.” As the pandemic restrictions have ceased and vaccines and boosters are widely available, life has seemed to return to a normal pace. However, some among us still experience mental health challenges, and their behaviors have changed as a result. To aid the restaurant industry in the arena of mental health, United Healthcare has provided the following list of free resources and communities.

topics in the world. Find free resources here: https:// psychhub.com/ resources/mental-health-resources/.

Crisis Text Line Text HELLO to 741741 for immediate help in a crisis situation.

Optum Emotional support hotline: Need a little support? Call 1-866-342-6892 for help anytime, from anywhere. Substance use disorder helpline: In crisis? Call 1-855780-5955 or visit liveandworkwell.com/recovery for immediate help anytime, from anywhere.

UnitedHealth Group Free mental health resources and communities contact hospitalityhealth@uhg.com to receive a free COVID-19 stress relief toolkit, with easy things you can do today to help navigate stress and anxiety during the pandemic.

InsightTimer Free apps that aid with sleep, meditation, and overall mindfulness. Learn more and download: https://www. smilingmind.com.au/smiling-mind-app and https:// insighttimer.com/

PatientsLikeMe For questions about symptoms, medications, and conditions for yourself, your kids, and your loved ones. Go to PatientsLikeMe to gain insights and improve outcomes: patientslikeme.com/join/hospitality.

Ben’s Friends Hospitality-focused substance use support network. Safe environment for people on the front lines in restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality industries. To find a meeting near you or access telephonic meetings visit Ben’s Friends (bensfriendshope.com).

Active Minds Promote a positive, supportive workplace. This guidebook offers best practices for managers in the hospitality industry, including communication tactics and tips on improving workplace culture. Access your free guidebook by contacting hospitalityhealth@uhg.com.

PsychHub The most comprehensive online learning platform on mental health, substance use, and suicide prevention Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022


The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF), in conjunction with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), hosted the Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers Louisiana ProStart® Invitational, March 29-30 at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. Blue Runner Foods sponsored the Culinary Competition, which showcased the culinary and creative abilities of ProStart students from 11 high schools, while BRG Hospitality sponsored the Management Competition, which featured the conceptual restaurant development and marketing ingenuity of ProStart students from eight high schools.


Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022



for the Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers Louisiana ProStart® Invitational Teams participating in the BRG Hospitality 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.


Winner – Management Competition Chalmette High School

Second Place – Management Competition Third Place – Management Competition Plaquemine High School Hammond High Magnet School Instructor: Angelina Drago Students: Inashia Cousain, Dallas Griffitt and Kaylee Stewart

Instructor: Elena Hodges Students: An Tra, Amya Farrell, Razan Alkurd, Emma Oliver and Aiden Duhe Winning restaurant concept: Al-Medina, a Mediterranean/New Orleans fusion restaurant

Instructor: Stephanie White Students: Ashton Becker, Makenzie Anderson and McKenzie Justillian

During the Blue Runner Foods Culinary Competition, teams demonstrated their teamwork, communication, sanitation, knife skills and culinary techniques throughout the 60 minutes timeframe to prepare a three-course, gourmet meal.


Winner - Culinary Competition:

Second Place - Culinary Competition:

Third Place - Culinary Competition:

Chalmette High School

Pearl River High School

Sulphur High School

Instructor: Elena Hodges Students: Aiden Duhe, Kyle Thomas, Rosebud Knight, Tony Nguyen and Brandon Jackson Chef Mentors: Anastasia Joyner and Ruth Varisco

Instructor: Allison Armand Students: Rebecca Adams, Isabella Smith, Addison Colgin, Alana Gandy and Skye Jones

Instructor: Jacob Gillett Students: Carson Brakeen, Avery Gorum, Nina Johns, Marrie Racca and Kip White

Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022


WE’RE GOING TO NATIONALS! Chalmette High School represented Louisiana at the National ProStart Invitational in Washington, D.C. May 6-8, 2022 where they competed for more than $1 million in additional scholarship dollars.

Thank you to Rotolo’s for sponsoring the Team Apparel and Dinner.

2022 LRAEF ProStart Student Invitational Sponsors

Coca-Cola Bottling Company-United, Auto-Chlor System, PJ’s Coffee, Ecolab, Freeman Decorating, Community Coffee, and the New Orleans Morial Convention Center

2021 LRAEF ANNUAL PARTNERS Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Auto-Chlor System, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Acme Oyster House, Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Louisiana Restaurant Association, National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, Sysco, ForeKids Foundation, Coca-Cola Bottling Company-United; Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Katie’s Restaurant, Crescent Crown, Authentic Title, Tammy Smitherman, Octavio Mantilla, and the LRA Staff.


In addition, the LRAEF would also like to thank the nine chapters of the LRA for their support throughout the year.

Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022

Great chefs never apologize for being demanding. They know their guests come for something they can’t get anywhere else in the world—fresh, premium seafood that is responsibly harvested miles, not continents away. Be Louisiana proud. Demand local. And support the industry that has long fortified yours.

Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022


LRA Education Foundation

Presents its 2022 Scholars The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) Board of Directors, through its Scholarship Fund, awarded $46,000 in scholarships to 18 students. The LRAEF Scholars were honored at “Serving the Future—Celebrating Careers in Hospitality,” March 29, 2022 at Generations Hall in New Orleans. The LRAEF Scholarship Fund was created in 2009 to provide financial support for individuals interested in furthering their education to support a career in the culinary, hospitality, or related industries. Since its inception, the Scholarship Fund has awarded over $600,000 to deserving students. The LRAEF’s most-prestigious award, the Jim Funk Scholarship, is named for the former LRA President & CEO who guided the creation of the LRAEF during his 30 years with the organization. This year’s recipient of the Jim Funk Scholarship is Carmella Bosco, a third-year scholar and a junior attending Nicholls State University John Folse Culinary Institute. Bosco attended Lakeshore High School and received her ProStart Certificate of Achievement in 2020, and has worked at Spahr’s Seafood Restaurant and her father’s restaurant – Bosco’s Italian Café in Mandeville. The Louisiana Seafood Scholarship was established through a generous gift from the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board and is awarded to a qualified applicant who expresses an interest in cultivating, protecting and promoting Louisiana Seafood. This year’s Louisiana Seafood Scholar is Pierce Ziebarth, who is attending the Louisiana Culinary Institute. Ziebarth has a passion for the culinary arts and Louisiana seafood instilled in him by his grandmother, whom he credits with teaching him to cook at the early age of eight years old.


Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022

LRAEF Scholars

Awarded to qualified Louisiana students who intend to pursue a career in the restaurant, foodservice, tourism, or hospitality industry. ProStart students who completed the Certificate of Achievement are given priority.

Morgan Bouquet, Nicholls State University, Third-Year Recipient Rachel Cannata, Cornell University Christina Chauffe, University of Louisiana at Lafayette Julian Faust-McKinney, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Zoe Foster, Nicholls State University, Second-Year Recipient Sarah Gassenberger, University of Holy Cross, Second-Year Recipient Isabelle Giangrosso, University of Holy Cross Rebecca Gilson, Nicholls State University, Second-Year Recipient Kayla Gremillion, Nicholls State University Jeremy McElveen, University of Holy Cross, Second-Year Recipient Alayna Moore, University of Louisiana at Lafayette Emery Prokasy, University of Louisiana at Lafayette Nishanth Sathyanarayan, Delgado Community College Emma Sedgebeer, Nicholls State University, Second-Year Recipient De’Ante Skidmore, Louisiana Culinary Institute


presented by

Captions for top to bottom -Louisiana Seafood Scholar Pierce Ziebarth with his guest. -2022 LRAEF Jim Funk Scholar Carmella Bosco with LRAEF Scholar Morgan Bouquet. -Emcee and LRAEF Director Emery Whalen of QED Hospitality shares a laugh with LRAEF Scholar De’Ante Skidmore. -Matt Massey of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers shares his company’s vision for philanthropic community involvement. -Competitors for the Louisiana ProStart Invitational attend Serving the Future and gather for a photo.

Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022


Chef John Folse hosts Dinner of the Century fundraiser at Nicholls Back after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University held its “Dinner of the Century” fundraiser May 3 in Thibodaux. The evening themed, “A Joyful Magnificence Celebrating Catherine de Medici” Queen of France from 1547-1559, featured a historic menu. Catherine de Medici influenced much of the way we eat and even think about food today. Having been born in Italy, she introduced many ingredients, recipes, and culinary culture that she had grown up with to the French, making the rest history.

Hightower of City Pork Hospitality, Mickey Freiberg of A La Carte Foods, Fabian Castillo of Spahr’s, Anh Tran of Spahr’s and Linda Ayers, formerly of Ground Pat’i.

During the event, the DeFelice Family of the famed Pascal’s Manale Restaurant, best known for the original barbeque shrimp dish, was inducted into the Lafcadio Hearn Hall of Honor. LRA Past Chair Mark DeFelice (2003) and family were in attendance for the induction. Served was a historic menu—a mix of modern and antique dishes that included some of Catherine de Medici’s favorite treats, as well as some iconic items from Pascal’s Manale, all of which were created by students of the institute. The majority of LRA Education Foundation Scholars attend John Folse Culinary Institute such as Cierra Varnado, a guest of the LRA. LRAEF Executive Director Jonathan Baynham hosted her and LRA Members Stephen

The LRA sponsors the Chef John Folse Dinner of the Century event May 3. Pictured left to right: Fabian Castillo of Spahr’s, Jonathan Baynham of the LRAEF and Linda Ayers, formerly of Ground Pat’i.

LRA Members Coach Chalmette High School ProStart in Preparation for Nationals May 5-7 in D.C. Chalmette ProStart won both the BRG Management and the Blue Runner Culinary Competitions recently and headed to the National ProStart Invitational in early May. Jack Rose Chef David Whitmore and Rotolo’s Operator Jason Cook and his Kitchen Manager, Amanda Evans, provided valuable feedback to prepare the students for the competition that awaited them in Washington, D.C. The Culinary Team prepared a lobster and avocado appetizer and a seared pork tenderloin, served with white sweet potatoes and tart berry sauce. The Management Team presented their New Orleans-inspired Mediterranean restaurant concept Al-Medina. “They took all the feedback from the Louisiana Invitational judges and incorporated it,” said Jonathan Baynham, LRAEF Executive Director. “We encourage the Management team to really drive home the New Orleans inspiration and what makes their Mediterranean concept stand out above others.” Thank you to Rotolo’s Pizza for sponsoring the National Team’s apparel and dinner in D.C.


Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022

Jack Rose Chef David Whitmore and Rotolo’s Operator Jason Cook and his Kitchen Manager provide valuable feedback to prepare the students for the competition that awaits in Washington, D.C.

Brennan’s New Orleans Hilton's Restaurant Supply Lafayette

Berry Town Produce Hammond

Southern Produce Co. Denham Springs

Creole Foods of Louisiana Kenner

TLC Linen Services New Orleans

Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022


LRA Cenla Chapter Holds 2022 Taste of Mardi Gras The Louisiana Restaurant Association Cenla Chapter held its 27th Annual “Taste of Mardi Gras,” Friday, February 25 at the Randolph Riverfront Center in Alexandria. Since the event’s inception in 1995, Taste of Mardi Gras has raised over $500,000 in large part for the LRA Education Foundation to support the 51 Louisiana ProStart programs statewide. “Our first event was held just one year following the 1994 founding of the Mardi Gras du Couer de la Louisianne (Mardi Gras in the Heart of Louisiana),” said Scott Laliberte, LRA Cenla Chapter President. “Taste of Mardi Gras holds a place dear to the hearts of many of our attendees who remember participating since they were children. That tradition is something we consider when we set out to produce Taste of Mardi Gras every year.”

LRA Team Members Kathy Stokley, Mistica Maples-Adams, Jonathan Baynham and Britney Ford pause during the event for a quick photo.

The event featured delicious, mouth-watering cuisine and culinary delights from more than 30 LRA members. Paired with cocktails and live entertainment by Souled Out and the Cenla Brass Band, more than 1,500 attendees showed up for the festivities with their party clothes and dancing shoes on for an unforgettable evening. The event raised $53,453, with proceeds benefitting the LRA Education Foundation and the LRA Hospitality PAC. The LRA Cenla Chapter was awarded Outstanding Cenla Event May 5 by the Alexandria/Pineville CVB for their annual event Taste of Mardi Gras.

Spring Ushers the Return of LRA Chapter Meetings

Red Stick Golf Tourney features Barkies, Birdies and Bogeys

The LRA Chapters enjoyed the return of in-person events after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The Chapters held their Board of Directors Installations, with special guest 2022 LRA Chair Michael Boudreaux of Juban’s and SoLou in Baton Rouge. He shared the story of how he started in the restaurant industry and why his volunteer service to the LRA has been so meaningful to him. Following, he asked the directors to gather together and raise their right hands and repeat the Oath or the “swearing in” on the chapter board. Thanks for hosting goes to Ruffino’s on the River (Acadiana), Spirits Food & Friends (Cenla), Arnaud’s (GNO), Drago’s Restaurant (GBR), Zea Rotisserie & Grill (Northshore) and Cinclare Southern Bistro (Bayou).

The LRA Greater Baton Rouge Chapter held its annual Golf Tournament, March 28, at the University Club in Baton Rouge with 132 golfers exhibiting varying skill levels. The beautiful day was equaled by the cuisine from LRA members and friendly competition—a combination which made for a successful fundraising event for the LRA Education Foundation. Winners of the tournament were Kevin Kimball, Hugh Freeze, David Rine, and Phil Brennan from Stab’s Steak & Seafood. The LRA GBR Chapter raised $47,904—with $30,000 of the proceeds benefitting the LRAEF.

WATCH THE RECAP HERE LRA Baton Rouge Members Kerrie Kikendall, Michael Boudreaux, President Jeff Conaway, and Stephen Hightower.


Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022

For more than 40 years, Thompson Packers, Inc. has proudly catered to the food service industry. Hotels, restaurants and other institutions have continuously turned to Thompson for their “center-of-the-plate” meat products. They know Thompson has the knowledge and the capability to provide them with the right items to satisfy their customers.

Thompson’s professional yet customized service is like having a personal butcher at your disposal. What’s more, Thompson’s state of the art packaging affords consistency and “just cut” freshness on every item. Let us be your butcher. We’ve got the ideal cuts of beef, veal, lamb and pork — no matter what your needs might be.

Slidell, Louisiana

1.800.989.6328 www.thompack.com

Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022



Travel to


leaving home

at Addis NOLA

by Nicole Koster

Just around the corner from the Orleans Parish Court House is Addis NOLA, an Ethiopian Kitchen celebrating authentic East African cuisine. Founded and owned by Dr. Biruk Alemayehu, the restaurant is dedicated to connecting the New Orleans community to Ethiopian cuisine.


Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022

Serving your restaurant with amazing business solutions. With Heartland on your side, we guarantee your restaurant will be equipped with the best payments, payroll, point-of-sale, customer engagement and lending products in the industry.

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© 2018 Heartland Payment Systems, LLC

Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022


Her son Prince mainly handles PR and communications for Addis NOLA, but also acts as a host, runs food and works wherever he is needed in the restaurant. He says while his mother was a student at Southern University of Baton Rouge in 2009, she enjoyed attending international events hosted by the University, but it brought to light that Southeast Louisiana was lacking a proper eatery for recognizing her homeland. She would showcase some of her own Ethiopian recipes to share her heritage at the events. It was there she had the idea to open her own restaurant one day. Over the years of managing motherhood and work life, the Associate Professor in the College of Business and Public Administration at SUNO finally made the dive into the food service industry and scooped up a location at S. Broad and Tulane Avenue in 2019.

This is essentially her love letter to New Orleans,” Prince said. “To have a place to showcase the flavors and food from her homeland of Ethiopia. Dr. Alemayehu is originally from a region near the Entoto Mountains. She grew up on a military base in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa until she was 14 and then moved to be educated in the Czech Republic after political conflict broke out in her country. Her father, a former royal guard of the then Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, passed away defending his country. She met her now husband, Jamie, who is from Angola, there in the Czech Republic. The couple traveled back to Angola after living in Portugal for some time, where Prince was then born. This rich rooted history of her family is the biggest inspiration for bringing Addis Ababa to New Orleans, thus Addis NOLA. Prince and his parents are bridging the food culture of Ethiopia to the Southern hospitality of New Orleans. Though halfway across the globe from each other, there are a world of similarities between the two cultures. “We understand New Orleans to be the culinary and hospitality capital of the nation, and I think the way people live in Ethiopia is directly aligned with that,” Prince said. “The shared aspects of how deep their culture is, and how flavorful the food is, and the overall spirit of the people, I think we’re a great bridge between both of those cultures and people.” Addis and their team of 10 employees work as a welloiled machine seven days a week to bring the Ethiopian dining culture to life for hungry guests. Upon walking through the doors, one is immersed in Ethiopian traditions. From the Tej honey wine, to the handwoven wicker messobs, a breadbasket that is interchangeably used as a communal dining table as well as an injera storing utensil, to the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, Addis NOLA is a heaping serving of Ethiopia in New Orleans. The coffee ceremony is very close to his heart, says Prince. Ethiopia is said to be the birthplace of coffee. Making the coffee all in the same moment is an important touch on their dining experience.


“This is a tradition that pays homage to the origins of coffee in the world, how culturally it has impacted the way of life in Ethiopia, and the people who live there,” Prince said. “Whenever we roast the coffee for the house that’s reiterating that essence of welcoming people into our home,” Prince said. “It blesses the spirits of the guests who come, essentially like a sage stick practice, like many people are familiar with.” There is a strong sense of personal connection in Ethiopian dining, like using the injera flatbread to eat everything on your plate, shared with your family and friends. Addis NOLA offers a gluten-free injera bread, vegetarian options and meat for all palettes. The menu showcases traditional kifto, sambusas, tibs and wot, served alongside options like cooked lentils, collards and beets. There is also whole fried red snapper, Prince’s favorite dish. The fusion of traditional and modern flavors honors Ethiopia, and also the Gulf of Mexico and its abundance of fresh seafood. “My mother holds down the traditional Ethiopian cuisine and I handle pushing more modern, local and sustainable recipes,” said Prince. “We are in New Orleans, so we have to use the gold that we have out here, so we take the Gulf seafood and use traditional Ethiopian cooking processes and incorporate other flavors from other regions of Ethiopia.” Dr. Alemayehu juggles restaurant life, family life and work life seamlessly her son says. With a strong sense of humbleness and humility instilled in her from a young age, transitioning from professor to food entrepreneur was natural. She spent 12 years as a professor at SUNO, and currently Dr. Alemayehu works for Go Propeller, a non-profit supporting and growing entrepreneurs to tackle social and environmental disparities.

Continue reading on our blog HERE Winter 2022 Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring

LRA LRASpotlights Spotlights on on International International

Women’s Women’s Day Day By Wendy Waren By Wendy Waren

Yulia Zmyzhova Shamas emigrated to the United States 15 years ago from Ukraine—first to California, then followed her sister to New Orleans. Early in her arrival to the Crescent City, she applied for a server position at Bacco, a late concept of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group. Fast forward to present day, and Yulia is a Manager at Ralph Brennan’s Red Fish Grill in the French Quarter.

Continue reading on our blog HERE

Former Marketing Coordinator of Latter Hospitality Rises the Ranks to Vice President By: Nicole Koster Nancy Weinstock McDaniel is the Vice President of Latter Hospitality. The hospitality group owns The Bower, Birdie’s Behind the Bower and Tujague’s Restaurant. Tujague’s, the second oldest restaurant in New Orleans, recently celebrated their 165th anniversary. Once the Sales & Marketing Coordinator, McDaniel is now the Vice President and runs day-to-day sales, communications and operations throughout all three restaurants. She is the right hand of CEO, Owner and Operator of Latter Hospitality, Mark Latter. When The Bower opened in March 2020, it was just five days before the COVID-19 shutdown. McDaniel’s role expanded tremendously from that moment. Latter Hospitality has since opened Birdy’s and re-branded Claret into Bower Bar. McDaniel opens up to the LRA about her work life, and the female inspirations who have led her down the path to success.

“I am lucky enough to live in a time where women run Fortune 500 companies. It’s important for me to remember those who paved the way for my generation, and hope that I can one day inspire the next generation of female leaders.”

Continue reading on our blog HERE

Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022



Photo by Sam Hanna


April is recognized as National Brunch Month, and we honored the month by digging deep into the culinary history of New Orleans and Chef Madame Begue, the unintentional culinary creator of Brunch. New Orleans is a city of firsts. The city’s restaurant scene has been a breeding ground for original recipes, world-class chefs and dining habits made into steadfast traditions, i.e., brunch. We all know what brunch is, the widely popular late-breakfast-early-lunch meal celebrated across the world, but let’s not forget Chef


Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022

Madame Begue and her contribution to the culinary scene in the late 19th century, bringing ‘brunch’ to the masses with her ‘butcher’s breakfast’ on the corner of Decatur and Madison streets. The trend of dining late on the weekend has evolved tremendously, and is now commonplace for any restaurant to have a brunch menu, but Chef Madame Begue lit the fire to the brunch fuse. The Bavarian-born Elizabeth Kettenring moved to New Orleans in 1853 to be with her brother, a French Market butcher. It was through her brother Phillip that she met and married Louis Dutrey, and then soon after the couple opened Dutrey’s Coffee Shop on Decatur and Madison streets. She served butchers and service workers from the Mississippi River, and gained quite the reputation for her French-Creole recipes. Sadly, Louis passed away but Elizabeth kept cooking.

She found love again five years later with another butcher, Hypolite Begue, and married him, taking his name and changing the name of her café to Begue’s Exchange. The spot drew a large local crowd of butchers and local workers every day at 11 a.m. This was about the time they were winding down after having been working since 5 a.m., so a good meal was necessary. By the time the World Cotton Centennial came to town in 1884, Begue’s was the place to be. Tourists dropping into the French Quarter for the event caught wind of her lavish ‘butcher’s breakfast’ and had to try it for themselves. A meal intentionally meant for locals unintentionally became a sensational experience for tourists. According to the Times Picayune the World Cotton Centennial was a financial fail for the city because less than half of the expected crowd showed up, but brunch lives on as one of its legacies, this written in 1917 in the paper on the sad day of Hypolite’s death. The Times Picayune wrote “one started with shrimp salad, ham omelette and chicken blanquette,” in a nostalgia piece on June 21, 1925. “Then liver a la Begue, for which the restaurant was famous. Veal chops with green peas and potatoes browned in butter, salad, dessert and coffee.” Madame Begue’s also made spectacular use of the fresh local seafood and used traditional Creole cooking methods. Word traveled fast and Begue’s neighbor Tujague’s, just a few doors down on Decatur Street, began drawing in their dining room over flow, offering a ‘second breakfast’ very similar to Begue’s. Husband and wife owners Guillaume and Marie Abadie Tujague welcomed in all the extra diners later in the day. Madame Begue famously only served 30 diners a day. Her small dining room and stand-up bar left out many hopeful guests. Upon Madame Begue’s passing in 1906, many were saddened, but her legacy lives on as the first Creole chef of New Orleans. Begue’s Exchange lost its touch after she left. Hypolite had married a woman who worked closely with Madame Begue, so she knew her recipes, but it just wasn’t the same. When Guillaume Tujague passed, his sister and her husband took control and even bought out Begue’s Exchange, ultimately moving Tujague’s to the historic corner of Decatur and Madison streets. The second oldest restaurant in New Orleans, and third oldest continually operating restaurant in the nation, was housed in that building for over 100 years. Now, Tujague’s is located blocks down the other side of

Jackson Square at 429 Decatur Street. Owner Mark Latter succeeded the property and business from his father Steven Latter, who owned it with his brother Stanford. The brothers purchased Tujague’s from Phillip Guichet Sr and his business partner Jean-Dominic Castet, who had taken over from the original owner’s sister, Alice Tujague Anouilh. Latter is proud to have Tujague’s under his hospitality group Latter Hospitality and to carry on the Tujague’s name in New Orleans. He has played a large role in the modernization of Tujague’s brunch and dinner menu. “With Tujague’s having such a longstanding tradition at dinner service with our original Table d’Hote prix fixe menu, it is nice to also honor the tradition of brunch here in New Orleans,” said Latter. “Our menu celebrates the idea of a wonderful French Quarter brunch experience with dishes highlighting local ingredients like our Crawfish Cakes and Eggs. Only in New Orleans can brunch include a bowl of gumbo or a fried shrimp po-boy.” Brunch food has typically been a combination of eggs and meats, with the additions of soups and cocktails, but Latter likes knowing Tujague’s also gives their guests a true New Orleans dining experience wrapped in the brunch concept. “We have options for the more casual brunch-goer, those who want to enjoy a lavish three course occasion, and everything in between,” said Latter. “Perhaps most important, bottomless mimosas are available to keep the fun going.” At the helm of the kitchen is Executive Chef Gus Martin who enjoys paying tribute to Madame Begue through his menu. Though the recipes are not the same, they are inspired by the idea of people coming together over a hearty meal. Brunch may be breakfast-meets-lunch, but the deeper meaning of connection is clear. “Brunch is really about sitting around at the table enjoying good food and spending time with good friends and family,” said Chef Martin. “That’s something that I’m sure existed back in the days of the butcher’s breakfast: a group of comrades sitting around a table enjoying a satisfying meal after a long early morning of work. While we might not serve the same dishes that were originally served at Madame Begue’s, we honor that same tradition of a group of folks around the table enjoying a lasting meal together.”

Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022


Service Charges Could Be Solution to Tip Credit Challenges: An Employer’s 6-Step Guide By Ted Boehm and Courtney Leyes, Fisher Phillips

Hospitality employers who utilize the “tip credit” under federal wage and hour law may feel as if they operate with a bullseye on their backs given the multi-prong assault underway against the practice. Not only are you in danger of being hit with a costly lawsuit if you use the tip credit, but you can’t help but see the federal and state governments attacking the concept itself. But could there be an easy alternative hiding in plain sight that could lighten your burden and take that target off your back? A recent federal appeals court decision in a case involving the celebrity restaurant owner known as Salt Bae shows how the service charge could be a possible solution – and this Insight will provide a six-step blueprint should you decide to walk this alternative path.

Multi-Prong Attack Against the Tip Credit Using the tip credit in this day and age could sometimes feel like fraught with danger, as various challenges seem to pop up each new day.

Lawsuits Remain a Constant Threat – and They’re Increasing The odds of being targeted with a tip-credit related lawsuit have certainly increased over the years. Litigation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) generally increased 270% between 2000 and 2020, with tipcredit claims undoubtedly contributing to that growth. As employers know, these lawsuits are expensive,


Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022

time-consuming, and can result in unfair media characterizations (i.e., “Wage theft!”).

States are Taking Up the Fight At the state level, we have seen an increasing number of ballot initiatives and legislative proposals that would ultimately phase out use of the tip credit. • For instance, a new ballot initiative in the District of Columbia would increase the tipped minimum wage by a certain amount each year until it reaches the District’s regular minimum wage by 2027. The group behind this initiative announced in February that it was commencing a $25 million campaign to advance similar initiatives in 25 other states. • Even if they haven’t eliminated the tip credit altogether, several states such as New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have introduced significant increases that have resulted in swollen labor costs for hospitality businesses.

Biden Administration Takes Aim at Tip Credit Even those employers that have not been sued for using the (lawful) tip credit or don’t operate in a state seeking to change the calculus need to be wary, however, because all employers who use the tip credit currently face efforts to eliminate the practice at the federal level. In the 2020

campaign, then-candidate Joe Biden voiced support for eliminating the tip credit altogether under federal law. Perhaps recognizing that eliminating the FLSA tip credit through Congressional action is unlikely, the Biden administration has pivoted to agency action to undermine the tip credit. Last year, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) finalized revisions to the FLSA regulation containing the “80/20 Rule,” a rule which imposes onerous timekeeping obligations on employers of tipped-employees. As we have explained, there now are two distinct limitations on the amount of time that a tipped employee can spend performing “directly supporting work” (i.e., work that supports tip-producing activities but does not itself generate tips such as rolling silverware or refilling ketchup bottles). Hospitality employers already understood the difficulty in complying with the original 80/20 Rule, which limited the performance of “directly supporting work” to just 20% of weekly hours performing such work. Now employers must also ensure that tipped employees do not perform such work for a continuous period exceeding 30 minutes. The inevitable consequence of this change will be more unintentional violations of the FLSA and increased litigation.

The Service Charge – An Attractive Alternative Hiding in Plain Sight? A recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit highlights a potential alternative for hospitality employers. While perhaps not suitable for every establishment, a service charge could be the tonic that relieves employers of their tip-credit headaches. In Compere v. Nusret Miami, the upscale steakhouse restaurant in Miami owned by Nusret Gokce, also known as “Salt Bae,” assessed an 18% mandatory service charge on all customers. It used those funds to meet its wage obligations for employees. The service charge payments never went directly to employees and instead were processed through the restaurant’s point of sale (POS) system. The restaurant then distributed the service charge monies to employees using a point system to give each employee a pro-rata share of the total.

argument often made by plaintiffs in this context. The court noted that nothing in the FLSA regulations requires a service charge to be included in an employer’s gross receipts for it to not be considered a tip.

Benefits of the Service Charge But a service charge may not be feasible for every establishment. For example, some establishments may find that their customers will balk at a change from a discretionary tipping system to a mandatory service charge. There is no doubt, however, that a service charge system unquestionably gives you more latitude under federal law when it comes to employee compensation plans. • First, unlike tips which can only be used as wages pursuant to the tip credit for certain types of customerfacing employees, you can use service charges as wages for any employee. • Second, the onerous 80/20 Rule under the tip credit regulation does not apply when no tip credit is taken and employees are paid with service charge funds. For example, a server who is paid with service charge monies can perform duties that would otherwise fall under the “directly supporting work” label – like rolling silverware – for amounts of time in excess of 20% of their working hours for the week or for continuous periods greater than 30 minutes. • Third, unlike tips which you can never retain, you are free to retain a portion of a mandatory service charge to pay for other operating expenses.

A former server filed a collective lawsuit alleging that this compensation plan violated the FLSA. The critical issue was whether the restaurant’s “service charge” was actually a “tip” under the FLSA . While neither phrase is defined in the FLSA, applicable regulations note a critical feature of a tip is “whether a tip is to be given, and its amount, are matters determined solely by the customer. The restaurant provided undisputed evidence that the service charge was mandatory and that customers lacked the discretion as to whether the pay the charge. For this reason, the court agreed in a March 18 decision that this was a bona fide service charge, finding the absence of customer discretion to be dispositive. The court further rejected the server’s argument that the charge cannot constitute a service charge unless the employer included the charges in their gross receipts for tax purposes, an Louisiana Louisiana Restaurant Restaurant Association Association || aa lala carte carte || Winter Spring 2022 2022


Benefits of the Service Charge But a service charge may not be feasible for every establishment. For example, some establishments may find that their customers will balk at a change from a discretionary tipping system to a mandatory service charge. There is no doubt, however, that a service charge system unquestionably gives you more latitude under federal law when it comes to employee compensation plans. • First, unlike tips which can only be used as wages pursuant to the tip credit for certain types of customerfacing employees, you can use service charges as wages for any employee. • Second, the onerous 80/20 Rule under the tip credit regulation does not apply when no tip credit is taken and employees are paid with service charge funds. For example, a server who is paid with service charge monies can perform duties that would otherwise fall under the “directly supporting work” label – like rolling silverware – for amounts of time in excess of 20% of their working hours for the week or for continuous periods greater than 30 minutes. • Third, unlike tips which you can never retain, you are free to retain a portion of a mandatory service charge to pay for other operating expenses.

Wait, There’s More An added benefit to the service charge model is that it can open the door to an exemption from the FLSA’s overtime requirement. The FLSA’s “service and retail establishment” exemption is located at 29 U.S.C. 207(i). The “7(i)” exemption provides that certain employees are exempt from overtime (but not minimum wage) if: • the employee’s regular rate of pay is in excess of one and one-half times the minimum wage (in weeks with more than 40 hours worked); and • if more than half of the employee’s compensation for a representative period (not less than one month) represents commissions on goods or services. In the Salt Bae case, the restaurant employer utilized this exemption through the service charge model and thus was relieved of paying its employees overtime for hours worked over 40. Although the court spent little time analyzing the issue, it implicitly acknowledged that a service charge constituted a commission for purposes of this exemption.

A 6-Step Guide to Implementing Service Charges Although a service charge offers more flexibility than the tip credit, you should consider the following six precautionary steps before implementing such a policy:


Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022

• First, it is absolutely critical that payment of the service charge be mandatory and not up to the customer’s discretion. • Second, you should ensure that the service charge is not paid directly to employees but instead is processed through the establishment’s POS system. • Third, to the extent possible, you should include service charges in your gross receipts for tax purposes. While the Eleventh Circuit rejected this as a requirement for monies to be considered a service charge rather than a tip, district courts in other jurisdictions have reached contrary results. • Fourth, you should confer with counsel to ensure that all elements of the Section 7(i) exemption are satisfied before switching to a service charge model that also relies on the exemption. • Fifth, you should have a plan for how to distribute tips when a customer pays the service charge and nonetheless provides a tip as well. • Finally, you should always be mindful of any state or local laws that may apply more restrictive limitations on the use of a service charge model.

Conclusion Fisher Phillips will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as appropriate. Make sure you are subscribed to Fisher Phillips’ Insight System to get the most up-to-date information. For further information, contact your Fisher Phillips attorney, the author of this Insight, any attorney in Wage and Hour Practice Group, or any member of our Hospitality Industry Team.

Fisher Phillips

A National Labor and Employment Law Firm Serving U.S. Restaurants The attorneys at Fisher Phillips are ready to help you with all of your labor and employment legal issues. We help prevent legal problems by auditing payroll and personnel records to assure compliance with applicable laws, reviewing I-9 forms and procedures to assure compliance before a surprise government inspection, training managers on effective techniques for hiring and firing employees, ADA compliance and avoiding harassment claims. In addition, we draft and review effective employee handbooks and provide day-to-day advice and consultation to hospitality employers on every aspect of labor and employment laws. Fisher Phillips is a national labor and employment law firm representing employers in labor, employment, civil rights, employee benefits, and immigration matters. Our lawyers are joined by more than 500 attorneys in 37 offices and we are continuing to expand. Our range of experience enables us to bring efficient and practical solutions to today’s labor and employment problems.


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40 CLICK HERE FOR TOP REASONS TO EXHIBIT Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022

Showcasing Louisiana’s Finest

by: Nicole Koster

The two-day LRA marketplace is a hub of creativity and possibilities Exhibitors at the LRA Showcase have the opportunity to increase brand awareness, get in front of their target market, speak directly with decision makers and allow customers to touch, taste, feel and experience their products and services. This two-day showcase sets the standard as the top regional restaurant show in the country, making it special for exhibitors that attend every year. It provides a one-stop shopping resource for thousands of foodservice professionals looking for new suppliers. One annual exhibitor is the Certified Louisiana Program from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Commissioner Mike Strain is head of this unique program designed to promote Louisiana made, grown, manufactured or processed products that are aimed at enhancing and promoting Louisiana’s agricultural industry. “The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry is excited to bring many of our Certified Louisiana companies to the LRA Showcase again this year,” Strain said. “This is a fantastic opportunity to help connect our unique and local Certified Louisiana products with many restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, and more.”

Strain says “you’re getting the very best” when you buy a Certified Louisiana product. Members of the program range from sauces, craft beers and wines, generational seafood farmers, meats and seasoning blends. One Certified Louisiana product found just the right partnership at the showcase last year. Melissa ‘Tbeaux’ Anderson, CEO and founder of TBeaux’s Seasoned Gumbo Roux & Gravy Base, was an exhibitor at the showcase last year as part of a group of Certified Louisiana food entrepreneurs. She found her perfect match with Acadian Kitchens®, making her pre-seasoned gumbo roux the first of its kind. Now, her product is being sold in Rouses grocery stores from Louisiana to Alabama, with future plans of being sold nationwide. When Anderson got the call to be a part of the LRA Showcase, she quickly formulated a plan to brand her product. “I jumped on the opportunity and prepared in less than two weeks,” Anderson said. “My main goal was to find a co-brand partnership through another Louisiana company that could help supply the demand that I was currently seeing with my product.” Anderson enjoyed using her booth space to place her Creole heritage in the spotlight. She knew there were no guarantees, but she was also grateful knowing the LRA was giving her a huge opportunity to market her brand. by Nicole Koster

The two-day LRA marketplace is a hub of

“The atmosphere, the food, and just the whole convention creativity andwas possibilties and purpose truly a life-changing experience,” Anderson said. “All the tools were given to me right there to network and market. Anderson’s positive attitude lent her a hand in building the valuable connections with her new co-branded partnership. When she crossed paths with Acadian Kitchens, she knew she found something good.

Continue reading on our blog HERE

LA Commissioner of Argriculture and Forestry Mike Strain stands with Melissa Anderson, creator of T-Beaux’s Creole Gumbo pre-seasoned roux, at the LRA Showcase 2021.

Louisiana Restaurant Association | a la carte | Spring 2022


Are you taking full advantage of your membership? The LRA and the NRA offer a number of benefits designed to save you time and money. Members who are actively involved in the programs offered by both organizations get the most for their membership dollars. We’re committed to making your membership work for you! For more information about these programs, contact the individual listed below, visit www.LRA.org or call Pam St. Pierre, VP of Member Services at (800) 256-4572.

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Workforce Development RESTAURANT READY AND APPRENTICESHIPS Contact: David Emond Workforce Program Coordinator Louisiana Restaurant Association Educational Foundation davide@lra.org 504-920-4998


WORKFORCE PROGRAMS Contact: Jonathan Baynham Executive Director Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation jbaynham@lra.org 504-454-2277

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LOUISIANA PROSTART Contact: Mistica Maples-Adams Program Manager Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation mmaples-adams@lra.org 504-454-2277

INCUMBENT WORKER TRAINING PROGRAM Contact: Melinda Carter Program Manager, Incumbent Worker Training Program Louisiana Workforce Commission mcarter@lwc.la.gov 225-342-8980

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For advertising information please contact Wendy Waren, VP of CommunicationsPhone: Phone: (504) 636-6518 Email: wwaren@LRA.org Online: www.LRA.org

Do you have good news to share about your company? Want a “Shout Out” for your employees’ hard work? Send an email to communications@lra.org with the subject “Shout Out” for a chance to be featured in our monthly newsletter sent out to members! Do you have an exemplary employee who’s been with you for 20 or more years? Do they go above and beyond the call of duty? Are they a shining example for young employees to emulate? If you’ve answered yes, then you have a LRA Restaurant Legend! Nominate your employees today! Email communications@lra.org for more information.

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