Issuu on Google+

a MAGAZINE from Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association





VHTA Rebrands New Name Chosen and Logo Updated



FALL 2015


Coastal Virginia Magazine

/ December



CONTENTS 4 Letter From The President 18 VRLTA Selects No Kid Hungry 8





Virginia ProStart Launches Industry Mentorship Program



10 4 ways changes


in overtime regulations could hurt restaurants

12 Survey Finds Social

Media Boosts Hotel Occupancy by 2x

14 UPCOMING EVENTS 16 A Brief HIstory 20 CHANGING A LIFE 22 Partners

W ww . V R L T A . O R G






s I sit down to write for this—our first—issue of Inside Virginia Hospitality, I think back on what an exciting year 2015 has been for our Association. When we began this year, we were a staff of six and in search of the right pieces to make this Association thrive. Eleven months later, we are now eight strong with several key personnel added to our team—Seth Petersen joined us in February, Ann Campbell joined us in July and Jim Wilson most recently in September. Along with Kristian Havard, Katrina Washington, Kristen Karrfalt and Jenny Latina, I truly feel that we now have the right team in place to sustain a growth in membership, strengthen our educational offerings, continue to improve our statewide image, have a significant impact on our legislative priorities and be a stronger and more powerful voice. I also look back on the things we accomplished this year. What a busy year it was… ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■

Defended efforts to repeal Virginia’s post-Labor Day School Start laws. Successfully fought proposed meals tax increases in five counties. Put on a series of four Tourism Summits throughout the Commonwealth. Provided direct input on proposed Virginia ABC changes including distilled spirit price increases, regulatory changes and major VA ABC staff changes; in addition, we testified before the Governor’s Virginia ABC Enforcement Expert Review Panel. Advocated for increased Virginia Tourism Corporation and Virginia Film Office funding. Defeated job killing, minimum wage increase measures at a state and local level. Advocated for higher per diem rates for government travel. Hosted several member and regional meetings throughout the year.


While the aforementioned items are exciting news and all a very important part of our work, perhaps the most exciting update is that of our name change. With the publishing of this magazine, we are no longer operating as Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association. This change marks a new chapter in the history of our Association. When the Virginia Restaurant Association, Virginia Travel Council and Virginia Hotel & Motel Association joined in 1993, they combined nearly 150 years of experience and influence. After 22 years of operating as the VHTA, this change is designed to better align our brand with our member base and ensure that our elected officials know who we are—the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association­—and who we represent. In the coming weeks, you will see this transformation take place with an

President Eric Terry

Director of Membership Katrina Washington

VP of Government Affairs Kristian Havard

Northern Virginia, Director of Membership & Government Affairs Kristen Karrfalt

VRLTA | 2101 Libbie Ave, Richmond, VA 23230 | (804) 288-3065


Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association


Fall 2015

updated website, refreshed social media channels, new educational offerings and renewed excitement surrounding our efforts. We truly hope you are as excited about this next chapter as we are. A name change alone will not immediately mean impact. We have a long road ahead of us for 2016 and beyond.

With legislative challenges growing, our focus for this upcoming General Assembly session is as follows: ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■

Defending the Post -Labor Day school law and the millions of dollars in tax revenues and paychecks the days and weeks before Labor Day bring to our businesses, workforce and state. Fighting regionally to ensure regressive taxes—such as local meals and lodging taxes—never make ballots or are implemented. Advocating on behalf of our restaurants to ensure ABC laws improve our guests’ dining experience and bottom line in our restaurants and eateries. Pushing for increased tourism marketing funding for Fiscal Year ’17 and beyond. And, so much more.

So, as we gear up to represent you, Virginia’s Restaurants, Hotels, Motels, Amusement Parks and Destinations, before our General Assembly, we invite you to join us in January 2016 for our next Member Meeting and our Day on the Hill. We will host our regular membership meetings and an amazing reception on January 27th, followed by a Day on the Hill lobbying for positions that benefit the restaurant and travel industries of Virginia on January 28th. Don’t forget to make your contribution to the VRLTA PAC. What an amazing year it truly has been, and 2016 is shaping up to be just as exciting. So, please join us in January in Richmond for our Day on the Hill and be on the lookout for the next issue of Inside Virginia Hospitality and our new Travel Guide app in the coming months. We are certain you will be excited about the announcements we have planned for the next issue. We hope you enjoy the contents of this magazine and will help us continue to grow our association. For more information about everything happening at VRLTA visit our website at or email me at Thank you and I hope to see you all in January. Regards, Eric Terry

President, VRLTA

Director of Marketing & Communications Seth Petersen Director of Education & Workforce Development Jim Wilson

Administrator Jenny Latina ServSafe Coordinator Ann Campbell Sales Kendall Burns

W ww . V R L T A . O R G







| Partners


Ecolab Frederick, Maryland

Aloft Dulles North Ashburn


The Blue Crab Cottage Sperryville

Fiona’s Alexandria Golden Leaf Bistro Danville Gordon Biersch Tysons Gordon Biersch Virginia Beach Northern Neck Burger Tappahannock

Comfort Inn Gunston Corner Lorton Fairfield Inn & Suites Chantilly The Founders Inn and Spa Virginia Beach

Taste Unlimited Norfolk

Hampton Inn Woodbridge Woodbridge

Tavern on the James Scottsville

Holiday Inn Express Southpoint Fredericksburg


The Inn at Little Washington Washington

Clearview ATMs and Gaming Leesburg Gantt Insurance Farmville Hospitality Ascent Virginia Beach

Rockcliffe Farm Retreat Appomattox Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Norfolk

Murray Enterprises Arlington

Westin Reston Heights Reston

SpeedPro Imaging Sterling

| Travel

Sprague Energy New Jersey

Visit Harrisonburg Harrisonburg

t is hard to believe that six months ago I was elected Chair of the Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association—effective as of this publication the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association (VRLTA). On that sunny day in April, at Massanutten Resort, I shared with our membership that my goal was to double the membership of the Association and that I wanted this membership to be more engaged and more active. I am very happy to say that the focus VRLTA—wow, does that feel good to write—staff has placed on membership should make my first goal a slam-dunk. My second goal, member engagement, is a work in progress. As we move into the second half of my first year as Chair, here are some things to get you thinking and to get you excited and—hopefully—engaged: ■■ Membership is growing rapidly. Our team is laser-focused. How can you help? VRLTA Staff and I collaborated to bring on the Inn at Little Washington, an internationallyrecognized restaurant and inn. You can do the same thing with key restaurants, hotels or travel destinations in your area. Start making your list now. Who can you help bring into the Association? Let’s assist our staff in growing an active membership! ■■ Partnerships are growing! Sysco just recently doubled their commitment to our Association. Reinhart Foodservice has jumped on board. We have great partners in SIL Insurance, Connexture Energy, Heartland, Performance Foodservice and more. The additional funding we receive from our partners allows us to print the magazine you are reading today. How can you help? Let Seth know what topics you would like to see covered in the magazine, or maybe you would like to advertise your business in it. This magazine will be distributed across the state to over 1,600 of our members and their staff. Make sure you share it with your team. ■■ Our Association image is soaring across the state. Eric and staff are traveling from one corner to the next to ensure everyone knows who VRTLA is and what we stand for. How can you help? Be a VRLTA disciple! We also recently launched our new statewide partnership with Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, a national program supported by Food Network and First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe. ■■ Government Relations is ahead of the game! Kristian and Eric have been visiting with our legislators already, ensuring they are up to speed on our key issues that, by the way, were refined and compiled at the Massanutten meeting in April! How can you help? It is never too early or too late to meet with your local representative. And we are more than ready to help you prepare for your meeting. So get your three-sentence elevator speech ready! And let’s go for it! These are just a few of the exciting points I wanted to highlight as we head into state elections and then into General Assembly in January 2016. A larger, more active membership means a stronger Political Action Committee (PAC). I recently met with Delegate Todd Gilbert and he said one of the most important things VRLTA can do is grow membership; because, with membership growth, funding the PAC becomes easier. Also, with large membership numbers General Assembly members will listen. Here is what I hope you will commit to through the end of 2015 and into 2016: ■■ Bring at least one new potential member with you to an upcoming meeting. ■■ Give Kristian as large of a PAC check as you and your business can afford; it is more important than ever. ■■ Have coffee with your Delegate or Senator. They need to meet you and hear from their constituents personally, face-to-face. The impact of meeting in person is so much greater versus writing an email. This is an exciting time for our Association. I am committed to helping in any way I can. Since April, I have attended our meetings, been on our conference calls, met with Delegate Gilbert and contributed to our PAC. I spoke to my local business association and helped to bring in two new members. I take my position as Chair very seriously. I believe in VRLTA and what we have to offer. Please stand beside me and make this an incredible year of growth, networking, education and legislation! Sincerely,

Debbie Donehey | Owner, Griffin Tavern | Chair VRLTA 6

Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association


Fall 2015


Virginia ProStart Launches Industry Mentorship Program By Andrew Gladstein Culinary Institute of Virginia & Education Foundation Chair


he Virginia ProStart program, currently offered in 55 high schools and serving over 3,200 students, has announced plans to pilot an Industry Mentorship Program (IMP) for the 2015-2016 school year. ProStart is a technical education program offered through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRA-EF) designed to both prepare and inspire high school students for careers in the restaurant and food service sector. Virginia ProStart IMP’s purpose is to support the mission of the NRA-EF by strengthening the connection between hospitality employers, educators and students. “Having active professionals in the classroom adds real value to students,” says Chef Suzette Johnson, a Culinary Arts Instructor at Landstown High School in Virginia Beach. “Students hear first-hand how relevant their curriculum is and can see, literally right in front of them, a clear path into a career that they are passionate about.” For most, the motivation to serve as a professional or personal mentor is mainly altruistic. This certainly applies to hospitality professionals, whose natural inclination is to provide service to others. However, as an industry, the benefit of a successful mentorship program in ProStart classrooms can have a much larger, long-term impact. “By electing to register for a class focused on hospitality, these students are telling us they find something intriguing about what we do every day,” comments Eric Terry, VRLTA President. “Professional mentors can really inspire students to stay focused on our industry after high school, whether it be through joining the workforce directly or continuing in a hospitality-related college program.” Virginia ProStart plans to roll out the Industry Mentorship Program throughout the current calendar year. “The focus of the pilot is to build a framework for efficient and effective relationships between educators and industry mentors, and not just facilitate introductions,” states Jim Wilson, VRLTA Director of Education & Workforce Development. By developing this Mentorship Program, it is the hope of VRLTA that the Virginia ProStart Program grow beyond the in-class learning and competition training. With its addition, VRLTA and Virginia ProStart can truly take the next step in helping students prepare for a career in foodservice. Students who successfully complete ProStart Level 1 and Level 2 and 400 hours of mentored work experience are eligible to earn the ProStart National Certificate of Achievement (COA). ProStart graduates earning this prestigious certificate possess a strong foundation for a career in foodservice, open doors to a career in our industry and become eligible for national scholarships and college level credits. Hospitality professionals interested in learning more about the ProStart program and future participation in the IMP program can contact Jim at W ww . V R L T A . O R G



IN Depth:

VIRGINIA ABC Rules on Social Media Advertising By Thomas A. Lisk ECKERT SEAMANS CHERIN & MELLOTT, LLC


here are many misconceptions regarding Virginia ABC regulations governing advertising by retail licensees, particularly in relation to the use of social media. The regulatory authority of the ABC Board is very broad and allows the ABC to regulate all forms of advertising, including, but not limited to, radio, television, e-mail and the Internet (including webpages, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.).

There is an ever increasing reliance by retailers to use social media as a means of communication to promote their restaurants. As a general rule, ABC retailers are allowed to advertise the food and beverages offered for sale in media, print and electronic advertising—including alcoholic beverages and the customary prices for the same—as long as the advertisement includes the name and address (street address optional) of the responsible advertiser. The only exceptions are “happy hour” advertising (see below) and a general prohibition against placing alcoholic beverage-related advertising in college student publications (e.g. any college or university publication that is prepared, edited or published primarily by students at such institution or intended to be distributed in primarily to persons under 21 years of age). In addition all advertisements of alcoholic beverages are prohibited in publications distributed or intended to be distributed primarily to a high school or younger age level. Regarding the advertising of “happy hour” or any other discounts on the pricing of alcoholic beverages, the ABC has imposed a more restrictive standard. “Happy hour” is defined by ABC regulations to mean any specified period of time during which alcoholic beverages are sold at prices reduced from the customary price established by a retail licensee. No retail licensee may advertise happy hour (or any other drink discount) 8

Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association


Fall 2015

anywhere other than within the interior of the licensed premises. A retail licensee may use the term “Happy Hour” or “Drink Specials” and the time period within which alcoholic beverages are being sold at reduced prices in any otherwise lawful advertisement, including social media, as long as the details of the drink discounts—including pricing—are not included in the advertisement. For example, you can advertise “Happy hour from 4-7 pm daily!” or “Offering the best happy hour in Virginia!” It is worthy to note, however, that the 2015 Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 1439, which legislation directs the ABC Board to adopt new regulations to permit retail licensees to advertise any alcoholic beverage products featured during a happy hour (e.g. “Special prices on Martinis” or “Specials on Craft Beer & Virginia Wines”). However, such regulations will still prohibit the advertising of any pricing related to happy hours. We expect the ABC Board to adopt the new regulations sometime in 2016. Please also remember that ABC “happy hour” regulations prohibit at all times: (1) discounting drink prices after 9 p.m. each evening; (2) allowing a person to possess more than two drinks at any one time; (3) selling two or more drinks for one price, such as “two for one” or “three for one” specials; (4) increasing the volume of alcoholic beverages contained in a drink without increasing proportionately the customary or established retail price charged for such drink; or (5) selling an unlimited number of drinks for one price, such as “all you can drink for $5.00.” If you have any questions regarding the above or any other ABC regulatory matter, please feel free to contact VRLTA at

ABC Advertising Laws Are Putting Restaurants on The Rocks

W ww . V R L T A . O R G




ways changes in overtime regulations could hurt restaurants

Serious concerns remain about how the Department of Labor’s proposed overtime revisions could impact restaurant operations and opportunity for employees.  It’s unclear when the final regulations will be released, but the Obama Administration has said the revisions are a top priority. More than 1,500 restaurant professionals and the National Restaurant Association submitted comments on the proposed revisions. The House Small Business Committee, Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations held a hearing recently on how the change in overtime regulations could impact small business owners and employees. Kevin Settles, owner of Bardenay Restaurants and Distilleries, with three locations in Idaho, testified on behalf of the National Restaurant Association and gave four areas of concern about the proposed overtime revisions:


The Potential For A New “Duties Test”

Perhaps the biggest concern for restaurants is that the DOL may make major changes to the “duties test,” rigid guidelines that define the types of employees who must be paid overtime. While no specific changes have been proposed, the DOL did leave open the possibility that changes could be included in the final regulations. That’s worrisome for restaurants, as it’s common for restaurant managers to occasionally step outside of traditional management responsibilities and fill non-managerial roles depending on the needs of the restaurant. “Our managers need to have a hands-on approach to ensure that our operations run smoothly,” Settles said.


Salary Threshold

Under the DOL’s proposal, the salary threshold for exemption from overtime would go from $23,660 to $50,440—a 113 percent increase. The sharp increase could come at a significant cost for both employers and employees, Settles said. “The exempt salary status was originally created to allow for above-average fringe benefits, greater job security and better opportunities for advancement,” Settles said. “Setting a rate that is inappropriate for entry-level managers…will end up reducing benefits available to them.” The high threshold may be appropriate for some restaurants in more expensive areas of the country, but it means many salaried managers in rural areas would be unlikely to ever reach the exemption, he said.

Courtesy of the National Restaurant Association. To read the full article visit


Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association


Fall 2015




Automatic threshold Threshold Increases increases: Currently, the DOL is required to allow the public to weigh in on any proposed increases to the exemption threshold. That could change, as the DOL has proposed automatically increasing the threshold each year, without allowing input. “The department is charged with regular review and update of the minimum salary level, and they acknowledge that they have not done this,” Settles said. “The reason they give is the ‘overall agency workload’ and the time-intensive nature of the notice and comment process have hindered the department’s ability to achieve this goal. I take this to mean that they are willing to put a key task for the department on autopilot at the expense of employers and employees.”


Not Enough Time For Review The NRA, many restaurateurs and the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy had requested that the DOL give them more time to review the proposed revisions. However, those requests were denied. “More time would have enabled our industry to better assist the department in gathering substantive and more accurate information on the impact the proposed revisions would have on the nation’s employers,” Settles testified.

W ww . V R L T A . O R G



Survey Finds Social Media Boosts Hotel Occupancy by 2x


otel properties that actively engage with social media reviews grow occupancy at double the rate of properties that don’t, according to a study released by Medallia. The study examines customer and business data from more than 4,400 hotel properties worldwide to understand and quantify the impact of social media engagement on a company’s revenue growth, customer satisfaction and social reputation.

Results Overview

The study found a direct relationship between responsiveness to social media reviews and occupancy rate. Properties that responded to more than 50 percent of social reviews grew occupancy rates by 6.4 percentage points, more than twice the rate of properties that largely ignored social media reviews. These socially engaged properties also outperformed the hospitality industry as a whole, which achieved a 4.3 percent occupancy growth rate during the same period. “The hospitality industry has experienced the impact social media can have on their business, both positive and negative, but these findings allow properties to quantify the impact of taking action on reviews and make it easier to justify additional investments in social media engagement,” said Aurelia Setton, Medallia’s general manager for hospitality.


Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association


Fall 2015

Regardless of the total percentage of reviews a hotel had responded to previously, even a small increase in the proportion of reviews a hotel responded to resulted in an increase in occupancy rate. The properties that increased their responsiveness by more than 50 percent earned double the occupancy rate growth of those that didn’t improve their responsiveness: • 50 percent+ increase: 6.8 percentage points of occupancy rate growth •30-50 percent increase: 3.7 percentage point growth

• 10-30 percent increase: 2.2 percentage point growth • 1-10 percent increase: 3.2 percentage point growth

High responsiveness does not just impact occupancy rate, either. A commitment to social media engagement was found to drive similar gains in overall customer satisfaction. Properties that responded to more than 50 percent of social reviews saw their Net Promoter Scores (NPS) increase by an average of 1.4 points—while all properties with less than 50 percent responsiveness saw their scores decrease: • 50 percent+ response rate: 1.4 point NPS growth • 30-50 percent response rate: 0.3-point decrease

• 10-30 percent response rate: 1.5-point decrease • 1-10 percent response rate: 1.7-point decrease

“One notable aspect of these findings is that the responses are taking place at the property level,” said Michael Morton, Best Western’s vice president of member services. “Hotels already trust their frontline with in-person customer interactions, and this research shows that letting employees engage with customers online as well—armed with their firsthand knowledge of specific customer experiences—pays real dividends.”

Additional Findings

“Companies often use social media primarily to raise awareness about their brand, but these findings show that social engagement can also drive organizational learning and increase accountability about meeting customer needs,” said Dorian Stone, Medallia’s vice president of customer experience strategy. “Engaging thoroughly and promptly with all kinds of customer feedback shows frontline employees what they need to do to deliver better experiences—and when social media is utilized in that spirit, the gains are significant.”

The speed with which properties respond to customer feedback also has a significant impact on their occupancy rate. Properties that responded to feedback in less than a day on average had average occupancy rates 12.8 percent higher than properties taking longer than two days. • Responded within a day: 52.3 percent average occupancy rate • Responded in one to two days: 49.3 percent occupancy rate

• Responded in more than two days: 39.5 percent occupancy rate

Hotels with the highest responsiveness to social media outperform competitors in their overall social reputation. Properties that responded to more than 50 percent of social reviews had social scores an average of five points higher than competing properties. • 50 percent+ response rate: 4.9 point advantage over competitors • 30-50 percent response rate: 2.7 point advantage

• 10-30 percent response rate: 1.2 point advantage • 1-10 percent response rate: 1.2 point advantage

Courtesy of the Lodging Magazine. To read the full article visit


FOR A HIGHER LEVEL OF GUEST SATISFACTION Aquanomic™ Laundry Program + StainBlaster™ Stain Management =

$9,500* Savings Ecolab laundry program reduces water, energy and linen replacement costs.

* Laundry operational savings of up to $9,500. Based on 160 room lodging property, 75% occupancy rate, 16 pounds of linen per room, national average utility rates, temperature reduction of 120 degrees (traditional wash) to 100 degrees (Aquanomic™ wash), customer linen savings based on market linen research studies conducted April 2013 to December 2014, annual linen replacement data from over 700 hotels from 2011-2015.

W ww . V R L T A . O R G



Upcoming Events and Dates 2015 December 2

Monthly Government Affairs Call

December 7

ServSafe Food Safety Course & Exam Suffolk

December 14

ServSafe Food Safety Course & Exam Richmond

2016 2016 January 8-April 1 Weekly GAC Update Calls (Fridays at 2:00 p.m.) January 27-28 VRLTA Day on the Hill Richmond March 7-14 Northern Virginia Restaurant Week April 12-13 NRA Public Affairs Conference Washington, DC May 17-18 AH&LA Legislative Action Summit Washington, DC


Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association


Fall 2015


From Certified Angus Beef Ž to Fresh Seafood and Italian Specialty Products, we are Virginia’s hometown foodservice distributor since 1887.

W ww . V R L T A . O R G


A brief look back


A Brief History

As we turn a page on this next chapter, as the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association, we hope to embrace this history and write our own success stories for the next generation of VRLTA members. This timeline is not intended to be a complete history of our Association; instead, it’s to give our members a better understanding of our roots, who we represent and some of the wonderful things the associations did pre-merger. As we continue to comb through historical records, we intend to share our findings with you in the pages of this magazine.

Pungwoberry Stra ival Fest




1. August 18, 1937 Virginia Hotel & Motel Association, Incorporated registered with the State Corporation Commission.

2. June 6, 1947 Virginia Restaurant Association, Incorporated registered with the State Corporation Commission 3. November 16, 1948 Virginia Travel Council registered with the State Corporation Commission


Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association


Fall 2015

4. September 1962 After purchasing and rezoning land, drafting architectural plans and undergoing construction, the Virginia Restaurant Association moved into its new building at 2101 Libbie Avenue.

5. 1964 Virginia Travel Council sponsored the See Virginia exhibit at the New York World’s Fair. The exhibit was designed by World’s Fair architects and included a backdrop of illuminated color transparencies depicting major Virginia attractions including Virginia Beach, the—at the time—new Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and the Caverns of Virginia.

6. December 1968 Virginia Restaurant Association sells a portion of the land purchased in 1962 and uses the funds to liquidate the mortgage on the land and building at 2101 Libbie Avenue.


7. December 1984 “Make Your Mark… Join VH&MA’s Educational Revolution” — Virginia Hotel & Motel Association hosted its 48th Annual Convention at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia.


8. October 1993 Virginia Hotel & Motel Association, Virginia Restaurant Association and Virginia Travel Council folded into the “Virginia Hospitality & Travel Industry Association” at the 1993 Hospitality Expo in Richmond.


9. December 1993 Bob Ramsey was appointed as the Executive Vice President/Chief Executive Officer of the newly formed VHTIA.

10. January 2002 VHTA hosts its annual Legislative Cafe on the lawn of the Capitol and General Assembly Building.

11. January 12. November 2015 2014 After years of operation as, Virginia Hospitality & Travel Eric Terry is appointed as Association, the Association the President is taking the next big step. As of the publication of this of VHTA. first issue of Inside Virginia Hospitality and the 2015 VA-1 Tourism Summit, our Association will be adopting a new name…the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association (VRLTA).

W ww . V R L T A . O R G



VRLTA Adopts No Kid Hungry as Charity of Choice First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe Opens 2015 Commonwealth Hospitality Forum


n September 1, 2015, VHTA (now VRLTA) hosted our first Commonwealth Hospitality Forum. The event was a partnership between VHTA and two other amazing organizations—the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance and HSMAI Virginia Chapter. Months of planning and coordination culminated in a half-day educational conference for nearly 100 of Virginia’s hospitality professionals. The afternoon featured eight speakers, including our general session speakers Mark D’Amico from Dana Communications and Darnell Halloway from Yelp. Perhaps most exciting, however, was the honor of having First Lady of the Commonwealth Dorothy McAuliffe open the meeting with exciting updates about state of Virginia Tourism and more about her efforts to fight childhood hunger.

The last of these three is, possibly, the most alarming. During the summer months—when students are more likely to be left alone due to a parent or parents working—­­only 13% of qualifying children receive a lunch from an established program. So what are we doing to help? Earlier in the day, at VHTA’s quarterly meeting, the membership voted to adopt No Kid Hungry as our official charity of choice. This means that, whenever possible, VHTA will do our best to incorporate a fundraising component for the organization. For example, following the Commonwealth Hospitality Forum, at a post event reception, we hosted a silent auction to benefit No Kid Hungry. With some incredible prizes from all across the state, we were able to donate more than $2,500 to the organization to help fight childhood hunger. More than that, we are strongly encouraging our members to get involved and to find ways to

During her opening remarks, McAuliffe shared some alarming statistics about childhood hunger in Virginia:

• 1 in 6 children will face hunger this year • Only 51% of children who qualify for free school breakfast receive one; and • Only 13% of children who receive a free or reduced price lunch also have access to summer meals.


Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association


Fall 2015

help. There are currently around 200 restaurants in Virginia participating in this month’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry. If you are dining out in September, please consider finding a participating restaurant on the Dine Out For No Kid Hungry website. VHTA will also be exploring the relationship of Restaurant Weeks throughout the state and No Kid Hungry. While we do not manage these events directly, we are strong contributors to several of these events. Our role is often to provide support and direction. No Kid Hungry will be part of that direction. To see this in action, look for Northern Virginia Restaurant Week in March 2016. If you would like to see pictures or presentations from the 2015 Commonwealth Hospitality Forum, visit


NO CHILD SHOULD GROW UP HUNGRY IN AMERICA But 1 in 5 kids will face hunger this year. Using proven, practical solutions, No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger today by ensuring that kids start the day with a nutritious breakfast and families learn the skills they need to shop and cook on a budget. When we all work together, we can make sure kids get the healthy food they need.

Join us at


Changing A Life: Training & Hiring Ex-Offenders In Restaurant Operations

By Eric D. Terry

President, Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association


ive years ago, back in May of 2010, former Governor Robert McDonnell made it clear that Public Safety would be one of his top priorities. He did this by signing Executive Order Number Eleven establishing the Virginia Prisoner and Juvenile Offender Re-entry Council. The goal of this council was to develop a strategy or strategies for successfully training inmates with the necessary skills and certifications needed to help them stay out of the Virginia Department of Corrections system upon release. Less than two months later, in July of 2010, the Council, along with the Virginia Department of Corrections, published the Virginia Adult Re-entry Initiative (VARI) Four Year Strategic Plan. The timeline for development stresses how important it was to develop this plan and program. When the plan was published, it was estimated that roughly 4 out of every 10 offenders would recede to prison within three years of release (Pew Center, 2010), at an average annual cost to incarcerate an inmate near $30,000 (U.S. Department of Justice, 2010). According to VDOC, the average prison sentence in Virginia is 45 months. Think about that for a minute; 4 out of every 10, 40 out of every 100 inmates would return to prison within three years. If even just one individual were reincarcerated within three years, the estimated cost to put him or her through the prison system would be about $112,500. So in 2011, after working with the National Restaurant Association and Virginia Hospitality & Travel Association (now Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association) Mark Engelke, Director for Foodservice with the Virginia Department of Corrections, launched a Virginia Adult Re-entry Initiative ServSafe and Foundations Component. For those that are not familiar, both ServSafe and Foundations are nationally recognized programs developed by the National Restaurant Association. The ServSafe Manager Certification is recognized as a leading food safety certification, and the Foundations Certificate is a nationally recognized curriculum that incorporates culinary arts and foodservice management topics, nearly identical to the ProStart program we teach in Virginia high schools. Mark Engelke was quoted saying, “Offering the ServSafe course to inmates is far more cost-effective for the state than paying for incarceration. We invested $97,000 (in textbooks, certification exams and instructor resources); if we can help five offenders go out, get jobs and be productive members of society, that would pay for the initial investment.” And he did. That initial investment helped Mark launch this foodservice VARI component in three prisons across the state. Since launching,


Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association


Fall 2015

more than 7,200 offenders have earned ServSafe Food Managers Certificates, and more than 250 have received Foundations Certificates. Currently, the Foundations curriculum is offered in 14 state prisons, and the ServSafe program in all 41 state facilities. Virginia is fortunate to boast one of the lowest three-year recidivism— the chance they will return to the system—rates across the country. ServSafe and Foundations, as well as the many other certification programs found under VARI, are continuing to help lower this rate. In August, I had the opportunity to tour one of the 14 facilities where Foundations is taught. During my visit with Mark at the facility, I was treated to a very nice meal from a full menu with tableside service provided by offenders. While chatting with him over lunch, he revealed to me that 27 out of 29 recent ex-offenders had received meaningful employment upon release. It became clear to me that the program was much more than a learning experience and paper certification. And while training and certifications are important, what they really do is build a sense of achievement and the confidence to excel in the workplace post-release. The success stories Mark shared were outstanding. When presented the opportunity to hire an ex-offender who has the skills and certifications, jump at it. Better yet, go out of your way to find them. Hiring an exoffender truly gives them an opportunity to succeed post-imprisonment and benefits their family and the community. Moreover, research shows that successfully acquiring a job post-release significantly cuts down on recidivism. We, VHTA (now VRLTA) and VDOC, encourage all of Virginia’s restaurants to learn more about the program, find out how you can help support the initiative or hire an ex-offender leaving the corrections system. To learn more about how you can get involved in the program, please reach out to Mark Engelke. Mark can be reached via email at

Proud of the company we keep To learn more, contact John Hurley 540.556.5999 or All logos and trademarks are property of their respective owners

Š 2015 Heartland Payment Systems, Inc.


Thank You to Our Partners


Connexture Energy


Sysco Virginia & Sysco Hampton Roads


Heartland Payment Systems FPIS Brochure Distribution Gold


Performance Food Group

Reinhart Foodservice

Comcast Business

SIL Insurance

Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association


Fall 2015

Your local source for foodservice products. •

W ww . V R L T A . O R G


2101 Libbie Ave., Richmond, VA 23230


User-friendly mobile app. Filtered by region from the Heart of Appalachia to the Eastern Shore.

Navigate easily through places to Eat, Play and Stay

Business easily found by region

VIRGINIA GUIDE NEW APP Businesses are quickly accessed and described with the capability to call, locate, map or view their website.

Maps business location relative to the user’s current location. Filters to distinguish Hotel icons, Dining icons and Activity icons.

Download today!


Free listing for all VRLTA members. Upgraded and featured listings available. Virginia Restaraunt, Lodging & Travel Association


Fall 2015

To ensure your listing contact: Kendall Burns 757-213-2482 or at

Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association Fall 2015