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January 2014





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What’s Hot: 2014 Culinary Forecast


2014 Legislative Session Overview Issues ranging from wages to liquor dominate the WRA’s memberapproved priorities


2014 Legislative Priorities The WRA’s Government Affairs team works year-round to represent Washington restaurants, but the most useful tool it receives is input from its members.


Regulatory changes to tax code and liquor regulations included among 2014 HERO Manual updates

Other stories




January 2014


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Lex on Tech: Top five web resources for the 2014 legislative session


News Briefs


Cities vs. state? Who’s on first?


Hill Climb & Taste Our Best 2014 provides full day of networking with lawmakers


WRA Education Foundation introduces new safety training program


Crossing barriers between government and business: your Education Foundation is a secret weapon


Calendar/New Members




Three ways to stay relevant in the offseason

On the cover

What’s in store for the restaurant industry during the upcoming legislative session? Head to page 16 and find out.

January 2014 | 5

EDITORIAL STAFF Publisher, Anthony Anton Executive Editor, Lex Nepomuceno Managing Editor, Heather Donahoe Contributing Editor, David Faro Contributing Editor, Tony Buhr Research Editor, Sheryl Jackson Art Director, Lisa Ellefson WRA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Chair, Jim Rowe Consolidated Restaurants, Inc. Vice Chair, Phil Costello Stop n’ Go Family Drive In Secretary/Treasurer, Mark Chriest Oki Developments, Inc. Immediate Past Chair, Bret Stewart CenterTwist, Inc. WRAEF President, Gary Sutter Northern Quest Resort & Casino WRA EXECUTIVE TEAM President and CEO, Anthony Anton Vice President, Teran Petrina Director of Government Affairs, Bruce Beckett Director of Communications & Technology, Lex Nepomuceno Director of Education, Lyle Hildahl Director of Internal Operations, Susan Howe 510 Plum St. SE, Ste. 200 Olympia, WA 98501-1587 T 360.956.7279 | F 360.357.9232

Letters are welcomed, but must be signed to be considered for publication. Please include contact information for verification. Reproduction of articles appearing in Washington Restaurant Magazine are authorized for personal use only, with credit given to Washington Restaurant Magazine and/or the Washington Restaurant Association. Articles written by outside authors do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the Washington Restaurant Association, its Board of Directors, staff or members. Products and services advertised in Washington Restaurant Magazine are not necessarily endorsed by the WRA, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the WRA, its Board of Directors, staff or members. ADVERTISING INQUIRIES MAY BE DIRECTED TO: Ken Wells Allied Relations Manager 425.457.1458 Washington Restaurant Magazine is published monthly for Association members. We welcome your comments and suggestions. email:, phone: 800.225.7166. Circulation: 6,310.

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Lex on Tech

Top five web resources for the 2014 legislative session By Lex Nepomuceno, Executive Editor

Keeping track of legislative activities can be a challenge for the average citizen, let alone a busy restaurateur. Should you download a mobile app? Which websites should you go to? Who do you call? Fortunately, the WRA is here to help you every step of the way, starting with this Legislative Preview issue of Washington Restaurant Magazine. First off, there is no magic destination where everything can be found. There is no de facto mobile application or website that provides everything to policy wonks and business owners alike. A politico may be more inclined to use the state legislative site, while a busy manager or restaurant owner may look to WRA’s website or an online publication. 1 – Leg.Wa.Gov – This is the main entry point for everything related to the Washington State Legislature. You can be a regular citizen, business owner, union boss, lobbyist or even legislator and this is the site you use. Within it, you can find your state representatives (, research past and present bills (, and look through all of the state’s laws and rules. The legislative website also has a ton of historical and educational information that serves the needs of legislative newbies and news reporters and everybody in between. The site also does a wonderful job directing users to other web resources whenever relevant. 2 – – The official site for the Washington Restaurant Association presents new content everyday related to the restaurant industry. The WRA features the most important topics restaurateurs need to keep track of, especially during the legislative session. The WRA has one of the top government affairs teams in the state, whose ongoing activities at the state and local levels are communicated on a regular basis – and the WRA’s website is the exclusive online resource for this information. Users are also able to keep current via a hospitality industry news feed, WRA events calendar and links to all of the WRA’s other online assets. 3 – – TVW is not just a great source for archived and live legislative video, it is also a solid source for ongoing legislative news. My favorite is “Inside Olympia” with Austin Jenkins (, which is a weekly interview/news program with state leaders. The program does a good job providing balanced content and Jenkins seems to take special care to appear impartial. Essentially, TVW is the C-SPAN for Washington state and there is a lot of new information that can be found there each day. If you want to see what a Senate hearing is like, TVW provides live feeds of hearing and other meetings held by all branches of state government. 4 – The Olympian ( – Even though this publication oftentimes clearly wears its political stripes, it does provide great ongoing coverage during the legislative session. The publication also has areas specifically for state workers, the Legislature and elections. However, the State Government News area does a nice job of providing an effective snapshot of legislative happenings at any given time. 5 – Washington State Wire ( – Many regard The Wire as the Drudge Report for Washington state. Its lead reporter is Erik Smith, who was a long-time reporter for the Tri-Cities Herald and has a real knack for investigative reporting. The online-only publication describes itself as, “an independent nonpartisan news gathering organization focusing on Washington state government and the policies that affect Washington residents’ daily lives.” The site is a hybrid of original content and news links aggregated from other sources, but the depth of the coverage provided by Smith is quite impressive. ■

Primary Source of Information | News Briefs

WRA’s Retro program creates safer workplaces and returns $6 million to participants The Washington Restaurant Association has returned $6 million to WRA Retrospective Rating Program (Retro) participants this past December. In Washington, businesses must participate in workers’ compensation insurance to protect against employee injury or occupational sickness through the Washington Labor & Industries Department (L&I). The Retro program rewards employers for maintaining a safe work place environment by refunding a calculated portion of their workers’ compensation insurance premiums. This can equal thousands of dollars in savings for businesses. “Congratulations to our Retro participants on another strong year! This simply underscores how important Retro is to the restaurant industry and how committed our Retro participants are to ensuring their employees’ safety,” said Anthony Anton, WRA president and CEO. “If you’re not already a WRA Retro participant, what are you waiting for? This program delivers results.” The WRA introduced Retro to the Washington restaurant industry in 1986. Since then, the WRA’s Retro has become the third largest of its kind in Washington state and has returned $137.5 million to participants in its 27-year existence. Poll: Washingtonians widely unsupportive of $15 wage A poll conducted by G2 Public Strategies, a joint venture with Gallatin Public Affairs and GS Strategy Group, showed 56.9 percent of Washington residents opposed a $15 minimum wage and only 38.1 percent favored it. The entire poll on various political issues was released in mid-December. G2 Public Strategies also found that men and women rejected the idea of the $15 minimum wage equally and independent voters stood two-to-one against it. The poll, which was conducted from Monday, Nov. 18 to Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, included 400 likely voter respondents, according to G2 Public Strategies. It contained a plus or minus 4.9 percent margin of error.

IRS releases 2014 standard mileage rates Last month, the Internal Revenue Service issued the 2014 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) became 56 cents per mile for business miles driven, 23.5 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, and 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations. But taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates. 2014 workers’ comp rates slated for first hike in some time Premiums for workers’ compensation insurance in 2014 will increase for the first time in three years, the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) announced last month. The average 2.7 percent rate increase for 2014 premiums is an increase of less than two cents per hour worked. The rate increase, which will bring in about $55 million in additional premiums next year, is an average for all Washington employers. Individual employers could see their rates go up or down depending on their recent claims history and any changes in the frequency and cost of claims in their industry. L&I held public hearings on the proposed rates around the state in October. The 2014 rates byindustry are available online.

January 2014 | 7




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Cities vs. state? Who’s on first?

What is the state Legislature’s new role in a new world? That’s the core question being asked this session. Local initiatives have muddied the water on many issues that have historically been staked as Olympia business. It has been fascinating, if not painful, to watch Seattle/ King County adopt menu labeling, paid sick leave, to-go packaging restrictions and local minimum wages. It has been equally fascinating to watch the collective shrug from the rest of the state. With rare exception the Legislature, other cities and counties have responded with the political equivalent of, “Who cares?” Actual quotes from varying mayors of varying political persuasions include: “I need to attract business to my city; I don’t have the luxury that other cities have of chasing them away.” “I will worry about that [paid sick leave] when my hotels are full, my sales tax collections are healthy and my unemployment is low. Until then I need to worry about adding jobs.” “Let them go crazy. I am hoping they will chase business south to me.” Advocates for these local initiatives proclaimed that if Seattle led, the state would follow. To date, few local initiatives have seen any serious political light-of-day beyond the shadow of the Space Needle. So far the dog has refused to be wagged by its tail. So as Olympia engages in a short session, the question for the Legislature is what its future role in establishing policy will be. The Capitol’s true role of being the power player in establishing the rules that businesses play by didn’t really occur until the late 1980s. Prior to that, these policies were established by federal agencies and D.C. For the past 40 years, the business community’s mantra has been a single statewide policy, even if awful, is better than different rules for all 36 counties and 270 cities. But now that the genie is out of the bottle, the best way to neutralize bad ideas may be to let these cities run wild and introduce a survival of the fittest environment.

Anthony Anton, president and CEO

If our belief that these policies will harm businesses is accurate, then on a micro scale the free market system will begin to work and businesses, particularly retail, will move out of these cities and to places such as Bellevue Square, Southcenter, Lynnwood or online. And in a micro-sense, cities with anti-business policies will experience Detroit-like results. If we are wrong, however, and labor is right, then the state will have incubators to test these unique ideas for five to ten years before debating if whether what works for a city can work for the state as well. In the end all these efforts should inevitably lead to a decentralized regulatory system. After all why does the state need L&I, the Health Department and DOE, if cities have taken over these roles? In fact the state could focus on education, workplace safety and safety nets for the most vulnerable instead. Of course, then it would be nearly impossible to keep track of the different rules, between municipalities. City budgets would expand greatly due to enforcement needs and businesses who already have to track six feet of regulations would double that effort for each city in which they choose to do business. For new businesses it would be, “on them.” They chose to open in a city that has demonstrated a pattern of continually adopting higher taxes and difficult regulatory proposals. After all, no one feels sorry for people who buy houses next to the airport and then complain about the noise. Of course the con is that thousands of restaurants have already invested their life savings, and heart and souls, into these cities before the rules of the game suddenly changed. Do we really walk away from those businesses and say, “sucks for you”? So the business community is now introducing a concept in Olympia this session that would restrict cities from engaging in all of these regulatory activities and reserve this responsibility for the state. Whether this soon-to-be introduced bill passes or fails, the Legislature’s action will signal what Olympia wants its role to be moving forward. Knowing the answer to that question will allow us to at least plan for what our future might look like. ■

January 2014 | 9

What’s Hot: 2014 Culinary Forecast Top trends by category Appetizers 1. House-cured meats/charcuterie 2. Vegetarian appetizers 3. Ethnic/street-food-inspired appetizers (e.g. tempura, taquitos, kabobs) 4. Ethnic dips (e.g. hummus, tabbouleh, baba ganoush, tzatziki) 5. Amuse-bouche/bitesize hors d’oeuvre Starches/side items 1. Non-wheat noodles/pasta (e.g. quinoa, rice, buckwheat)

Breakfast/Brunch 1. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (e.g. Asian-flavored syrups, Chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut milk pancakes) 2. Traditional ethnic breakfast items (e.g. huevos rancheros, shakshuka, ashta) 3. Fresh fruit breakfast items 4. Egg white omelets/sandwiches 5. Yogurt parfait/Greek yogurt parfait Kids’ meals 1. Healthful kids’ meals

2. Quinoa

2. Whole grain items in kids’ meals

3. Black/forbidden rice

3. Fruit/vegetable children’s side items

4. Red rice

4. Ethnic-inspired children’s dishes

5. Pickled vegetables

5. Oven-baked items in kids’ meals (e.g.

Main Dishes/Center of the Plate 1. Locally sourced meats and seafood

baked chicken fingers, oven-baked fries) Produce

2. Sustainable seafood

1. Locally grown produce

3. New cuts of meat (e.g. Denver steak, pork flat iron, tri-tip)

2. Unusual/uncommon herbs (e.g. chervil,

4. Non-traditional fish (e.g. branzino, Arctic char, barramundi)

3. Dark greens (e.g. kale, mustard greens, collards)

5. Half-portions/smaller portions for a smaller prize or a smaller price

lovage, lemon balm, papalo) 4. Organic produce 5. Heirloom apples Ethnic Cuisines and Flavors 1. Peruvian cuisine 2. Korean cuisine 3. Southeast Asian cuisine (e.g. Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian) 4. Regional ethnic cuisine

Dessert 1. Hybrid desserts (e.g. cronut, townie, ice cream cupcake) 2. Savory desserts 3. House made/artisan ice cream 4. Bite-size/mini-desserts 5. Deconstructed classic desserts

5. Ethnic fusion cuisine (Malaysian) Other Food Items/Ingredients 1. Farm/estate branded items 2. Ancient grains (e.g. kamut, spelt, amaranth) 3. Non-wheat flour (e.g. peanut, millet, barley, rice) 4. Natural sweeteners (e.g. agave, honey, concentrated fruit juice, maple syrup) 5. Artisan/specialty bacon

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Preparation Methods 1. Pickling 2. Fermenting 3. Smoking 4. Sous vide

The National Restaurant Association surveyed professional chefs, members of the American Culinary Federation, on which food, cuisines, beverages and culinary themes will be hot trends on restaurant menus in 2014. The What’s Hot in 2014 survey was conducted in the fall of 2013 among nearly 1,300 chefs.

5. Liquid nitrogen chilling/freezing Culinary Themes 1. Environmental sustainability 2. Gluten-free cuisine 3. Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens) 4. Children’s nutrition 5. Nose-to-tail/root-to-stalk cooking (e.g. reduce food waste by using entire animal/plant) Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Top 20 trends 1. Locally sourced meats and seafood 2. Locally grown produce 3. Environmental sustainability

1. House-made soft drinks/soda/pop

4. Healthful kids’ meals

2. Gourmet lemonade (e.g. house-made, freshly muddled)

5. Gluten-free cuisine

3. Coconut water

6. Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens)

4. Specialty iced tea (e.g. Thai-style, Southern/sweet, flavored)

7. Children’s nutrition

5. Dairy-free milk (e.g. soy, rice, almond)

8. Non-wheat noodles/pasta (e.g. quinoa, rice, buckwheat) 9. Sustainable seafood

Cocktails/cocktail ingredients

10. Farm/estate branded items

1. Onsite barrel-aged drinks 2. Culinary cocktails (e.g. savory, fresh ingredients)

11. Nose-to-tail/root-to-stalk cooking (e.g. reduce food waste by using entire animal/plant)

3. Regional signature cocktails

12. Whole grain items in kids’ meals

4. Edible cocktails

13. Health/nutrition

5. Food and liquor/cocktail pairings

14. New cuts of meat (e.g. Denver steak, pork flat iron, tri-tip)

Alcoholic beverages

15. Ancient grains (e.g. kamut, spelt, amaranth) 16. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (e.g. Asian-flavored syrups, Chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut milk pancakes)

1. Micro-distilled/artisan spirits 2. Locally produced beer/wine/spirits 3. “New Make” whiskey

17. Grazing (e.g. small-plate sharing/snacking instead of traditional meals)

4. Gluten-free beer 5. Food-beer pairings Source: National Restaurant Association, “What’s Chef Survey, 2013

18. Non-traditional fish (e.g. branzino, Arctic char, barramundi) Hot in 2014”

19. Fruit/vegetable children’s side items 20. Half-portions/smaller portions for a smaller price January 2014 | 11

Hill Climb & Taste Our Best 2014 provides full day of networking with lawmakers By Heather Donahoe, managing editor

Later this month, Hill Climb and Taste Our Best 2014 will give the state’s restaurant industry a chance to be heard in Olympia. This annual day-long event on January 27 is widely known and anticipated among Washington restaurateurs as the industry’s opportunity to express concerns, share stories, provide statistics and forge productive relationships with legislators from across this state. This important event is FREE to all WRA members, who can register at

will be able to interact with the displays in the museum while enjoying food, beer & wine and talking with their legislators and other elected officials. Running a businesses isn’t always easy, and state lawmaking can sometimes make it even more difficult. That’s why the WRA organizes Hill Climb and Taste Our Best each year. Throughout the day business owners meet with lawmakers in Olympia from their district to discuss business outlook, special challenges and to communicate the state of this industry. The WRA government affairs team does all the work, from setting appointments with legislators to providing simpleto-read talking points for WRA members to use during their meetings. It’s the perfect way to ensure your legislator knows exactly what you need to be successful.

Hill Climb/Taste Our Best Overview: 9 a.m.—Hill Climb begins! This year’s briefing will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 415 Capitol Way N., Olympia. Continental breakfast will be served as attendees arrive, and the briefing from the WRA GA team will begin at 10 a.m. During this time, attendees will be given an overview of the 2014 legislative session, along with a summary of important talking points and messages to share during meetings with legislators. Box lunches will be provided along with transportation to the Capitol, following the morning briefing. Please note that the Columbia Room in the Capitol Building will be available for attendees to gather, visit and relax between appointments with legislators from 1 to 5:30 p.m. 6 p.m.—Taste Our Best: For the first time, this year’s legislative reception will be held at the Hands On Children’s Museum, 414 Jefferson Street NE, Olympia. Doors will open at 5.45 p.m. There is ample parking behind the museum and street parking is free. Members Restaurateurs meet with Sen. Mike Hewitt at Hill Climb in 2013. 12 |


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2014 Legislative Session Overview

Issues ranging from wages to liquor dominate the WRA’s member-approved priorities By Bruce Beckett, WRA director of government affairs

In January, 2014, the Washington state Legislature will convene for its regular 60day short session. The primary purpose of the short session is to make adjustments to the two-year budget adopted in 2013. During 2013, the Legislature required three special sessions to complete the two-year spending plan, finally concluding work at the end of June. Unlike in recent years, the Legislature will return this January without any major economic or spending surprises to respond too. Accordingly, the two-year budget does not require a complete rewrite. Although doubtful, many lawmakers are hoping for an early adjournment. Short sessions tend to be very intense. Legislators typically introduce the same number of bills as during a long session. And the bills introduced during 2013 are still, “alive.” So Olympia will have a large volume of legislation and policy issues to go through. An interesting element entering this session is what we will term, “legislative fatigue.” Instead of ending in mid-April, last year the Legislature remained in session until the end of June, and then got called back in October to enact tax breaks and workforce training programs to entice Boeing to build its 777X airplane in Washington state.

Current make-up of the Legislature House of Representatives Democrats continue to hold a 55-43 majority in the 98-member House of Representatives. Although no seats changed parties during 2013, the House has a handful of

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new members who have been appointed to fill vacancies. The House continues to be led by longtime Speaker Frank Chopp and Majority Leader Pat Sullivan. Republican Dan Kristiansen took over leadership of the minority Republicans during the 2013 session. Senate During 2013 two Democrats, Sen. Rodney Tom and Sen. Tim Sheldon, joined with 23 Republican senators to form the Majority Coalition Caucus, or MCC, to lead the Senate. The unique coalition, that only had a one-vote margin to work with, was successful in defending against general tax increases and working with both sides of the aisle to develop a two-year spending plan that invested $1 billion more in education. The Majority Coalition Caucus gained an important new seat in the Senate when Rep. Jan Angel (R) defeated appointed Sen. Nathan Schlicher (D) in the special election in the 26th District. Angel’s election gives the MCC a 26-23 margin in the 49-member Senate. Although the Legislature does not have to make major adjustments to the two-year budget, the debates over how to allocate resources will take time and in some cases are contentious. Entering this session, the debate over new funding for transportation projects appears to be the highest profile issue facing lawmakers. During 2013, a number of proposals were debated to raise about $10 billion to fund new transportation infrastructure and maintain existing infrastructure. The House passed a new funding package during the special sessions, but the contention over the Columbia River Crossing derailed the bill in the Senate. Members from both chambers and both parties have been working during the interim to come to an agreement, even holding, “listening sessions,” around the state. Gov. Inslee has made transportation a priority and linked its successful passage to the state’s efforts to secure the new Boeing 777X manufacturing plant.

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2014 Legislative Priorities

The WRA’s Government Affair team works year-round to represent Washington restaurants, but the most useful tool it receives is input from its members.

Direction and input from restaurant and allied members is an integral to the WRA’s positions and strategies on all issues. WRA members often have very distinct perspectives and opinions regarding the state of Washington’s political climate as it affects their businesses. Here are a numbers of ways members can help shape policies and outcomes throughout the legislative session:

ƒƒ Join the weekly government

affairs conference calls, usually scheduled for Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m., when the GA team reviews the bills and issues introduced during the week. This is the perfect outlet for members to provide input and guidance on the WRA’s positions. ƒƒ Participate in Hill Climb and Taste Our Best Legislative Reception on Jan. 27 and talk to lawmakers. The WRA will prepare members with information, schedule meetings with your legislators and provide the opportunity to join other restaurant owners from around the state to educate legislators on the importance of foodservice businesses.

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ƒƒ Become an Ambassador to local legislators or, in Seattle, to the city council.

Build relationships with city or state lawmakers who can impact the outcome of important issues.

Below is an overview of the WRA’s legislative priorities for 2014. These issues are important, challenging and the outcomes will have long-lasting impacts on restaurants throughout Washington. The most credible messengers and ambassadors are those who are managing businesses, making payroll and paying taxes. Come join us in our collective efforts to advocate on your behalf.

WRA Priorities: Minimum wage, tip credit and payroll costs

ƒƒ GOAL: Defend against additional increases in minimum wage and/or payroll costs

A number of legislators have signaled they will be introducing legislation to increase the minimum wage and impose new employee benefits, such as paid sick leave. These legislators are responding to the recent enactment of wage and benefit policies in Seattle and SeaTac. The WRA will work to protect the hospitality industry from new and increased wage and payroll costs, including workers’ compensation premiums and unemployment insurance taxes.

ƒƒ GOAL: Continue education on the benefits of allowing a tip credit and

support legislation to allow for a training wage for a specified period of time. Legislation that would allow for some portion of tip income to be credited against the minimum wage has been introduced in each of the past few sessions. A public hearing on allowing a tip credit was held in the House Labor and Workforce Committee two years ago. The bill introduced in 2013 has not yet had a public hearing. The WRA will continue to advocate for, and educate lawmakers and the administration on, the benefits of allowing a tip credit in Washington state. Legislation was introduced in both the House and Senate in 2013 to allow for payment of a training wage for a specified period of time. The bill was supported by Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, but has not passed due to concern the House will not even entertain the concept. The WRA will continue to work to educate lawmakers on the benefits of the bill.

Minimum wage, tip credit and payroll costs

Liquor Tourism January 2014 | 17

ƒƒ GOAL: Introduce legislation to pre-empt local governments from enacting wage, benefit and employment policies.

With the recent passage of paid leave ordinances in Seattle, the sweeping wage and benefit initiative in SeaTac, and growing interest in Tacoma to impose paid leave policies on employers, it is becoming evident that businesses could be subjected to different employment standards in different municipalities. The WRA believes that businesses need certainty in how wage and benefits are regulated and that individual county or cities imposing different approaches will make it very difficult for employers. The Legislature should examine the consequences to business and taxpayers if local governments regulated wage and benefit policies, as well as the cost to those municipalities from enforcement. Liquor

ƒƒ GOAL: Eliminate the 17 percent fee imposed on sales of liquor from retailers to restaurants.

The Liquor Control Board imposed a 17 percent fee on the sales of liquor from retailers to restaurants in their rules when implementing I-1183. In 2013, the Legislature eliminated the fee on sales of liquor from former state stores and state-contracted stores to restaurants. In 2013, this issue required a two-thirds vote of the Legislature because the initiative had passed within the previous two years. In 2014, the change will only require a simple majority vote. The WRA expects wholesalers to again aggressively work to prevent elimination of the retail fee and to enlist the support of the Teamsters Union in bolstering their efforts.

ƒƒ GOAL: Defend against any proposals that limit market pricing options for restaurants.

The Liquor Control Board has formally proposed enacting rules that effectively eliminate the ability of restaurants and wholesalers to negotiate the best terms for their businesses. The LCB’s proposal does not recognize that pricing differentials are allowed under the law and that manufacturers, wholesalers and restaurants have legitimate reasons for pricing products differently.

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ƒƒ GOAL: Ensure that any legislation to establish and

fund statewide tourism promotion adheres to WRA member guidance. The Legislature eliminated funding for promotion of tourism two years ago. In response, the WRA joined with other stakeholders to form the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA). The WTA is exploring how to organize, fund and implement statewide tourism promotion through a privately led and funded mechanism. The WTA is working on legislation to set the stage for a privately-run tourism promotion agency, funded through an assessment, or fee, collected by the state in the future. While the WRA has participated in the WTA’s efforts to develop an approach for funding tourism promotion, we have not agreed to the emerging funding approach and are seeking member input on the specifics of the WTA proposal.

Other priorities

ƒƒ Defeat any proposals to raise excise or special taxes on quick service restaurant.

ƒƒ Defeat any legislative proposals that restrict the ability

of quick service restaurants to offer products of their choice and offer promotions – unless agreed to by the sector. ƒƒ Defend against any legislation that would adversely impact the member benefits of WRA’s Retro program. Other Retrospective Rating program providers may seek legislative changes to allow for Retro programs to manage and close claims more efficiently. While the WRA is neutral on such proposals, our primary focus will be to defeat any legislation that attempts to encumber our ability to offer a cost competitive Retro program to members.

ƒƒ Support reforms that lower the costs of Washington’s workers’ compensation system.

Two years ago, the Legislature enacted major reforms to Washington’s workers’ compensation system to allow workers to opt to settle pension claims with employers under a narrow set of circumstances. Allowing for voluntary settlements saves the overall system considerable money over the long run. There are proposals to expand that authority to include younger workers. While the hospitality sector rarely incurs the types of claims that these reforms are targeted at, lowering overall costs to the system benefits all businesses. ■


Let your voice be heard loud and clear, come educate your legislators about the importance of your business.

Join us for this year’s Hill Climb and tell your Legislators how they can help your business succeed.

Register now at:

January 2014 | 19

Regulatory changes to tax code and liquor regulations included among 2014 HERO Manual updates By Tony Buhr, contributing editor

If politics existed as a state, it would be a liquid. The rules and laws that govern us constantly adapt and change. Because of this, organizations like the WRA exist, to help represent and inform constituents about changes that affect their lives and businesses. The WRA’s HERO Manual is one tool that has proven invaluable in helping to notify members about legislative and regulatory changes, allowing them to remain compliant and successful. This year, we saw changes in Washington’s tax code, food service requirements for spirits, beer and wine, and with growlers. In regards to Washington’s tax code, restaurant owners can look forward to some relief coming in the form of exemptions. In last year’s legislative session, state lawmakers provided business and occupation tax exemptions for places that provide payroll and human resource services to affiliated companies, and for dairy products used to make other dairy products. Also restaurants will see relief from sales tax exemptions for cover charges on places that provide dancing or payper-view shows. The legislature also passed a sales tax exemption on products that produce flavor while being consumed during the cooking process. These products include charcoal, cedar chips and other similar items. Unfortunately, the Washington Department of Revenue has made alterations to regulations involving sales tax collected on prepared food. Previously, any prepared foods sold by a business would be exempt from sales taxes. But now, businesses whose food sales consist 75 percent or more of prepared food items must collect sales tax for their total

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sales, prepared foods included. However, in order to make this even more confusing, the DOR has made an exemption to its 75 percent criteria. Single food items containing four or more servings can be exempted. Unless the customer receives a utensil any time during the purchase of the single item of four or more servings, then sales tax must be collected. Washington also underwent major changes with its liquor regulations this year. Restaurants that want to serve spirits, beer or wine must offer at least eight complete meals on their menu. The state defines complete meals as containing an entrée and at least one side dish. It further explains that an entrée cannot be a reheated, precooked/frozen item, or a carry-out item from another business. In order for a restaurant to be compliant, its kitchen must have the equipment necessary to prepare its eight meals, a chef on hand, a menu available, the ingredients on premise, and the meal must be made on the premise. Restaurants with 100 percent dedicated dining area must maintain service the entire time liquor is served. But businesses whose dining area doesn’t make up 100 percent of its business must serve meals only five hours a day between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m., five days a week. Finally, in regards to growlers, taverns and restaurants selling spirits, beers and wines can now sell growlers-to-go on premise. These changes will be included in the 2014 HERO Manual updates, but may not be the only edits made. With lawsuits regarding a tip credit still in the works and other precedents constantly being set, the WRA remains ready to adapt to an ever-changing regulatory landscape. ■



for Members


Visit: | Call: 800.225.7166

WRA Education Foundation introduces new safety training program By David Faro, contributing editor On Jan. 1, 2014, in collaboration with the Department of Labor & Industries, the WRA Education Foundation is releasing a powerful new safety training program. What makes this program so special is that it is:

the choice, the training is consistent and in keeping with current Washington state food rules and regulations. The manual contains:

ƒƒ Comprehensive ƒƒ Made specifically for the hospitality

ƒƒ Trainer checklists to ensure that each training session is consistent ƒƒ Employee handouts ƒƒ Training validation pages – provides both record of training and a few test questions to ensure employee understanding of the topic

industry by the hospitality industry

ƒƒ Free to Washington Restaurant Association Retro participants

ƒƒ Provided at a low cost to all other

hospitality establishments in the state

The program focuses on educating employees about the potential hazards that exist in a food service environment. On top of providing safety instructions for stoves, ovens, grills, fryers, knives, slips and falls, potential chemical hazards, possible assault, first aid, emergency procedures, safe lifting and carrying, and proper ergonomics, the program also addresses teen employment and the rules and restrictions for employees under 18 years old.

A companion DVD is available should an establishment choose to incorporate it into their training. Each topic has a short video that coincides with the information in the manual.

As an industry that is known for providing many teens with their first jobs, it’s important for operators to stay in compliance with labor laws while keeping their under-age employees safe. This program will help establishments do precisely that. At the same time, operators can share with all of their employees policies and procedures that can help reduce the chances of suffering an injury while at work.

Establishments can manage their employees’ progress through the functionality of the online course.

The program was designed to make workplace safety training fundamentally simpler for establishments to conduct. One incident can cost an establishment thousands of dollars. The program helps operators avoid unnecessary expenses by providing low cost, ongoing training to employees in a format that is easy to use. Topics, trainer checklists and employee handouts have been already created for you with this new program. An employer simply has to open the manual and get started. How does the program work? The program is available in two formats: online or in a manual with a companion DVD. This allows for an establishment to be flexible in how they offer training to their employees. An establishment can use one format or a mixture of the manual and online applications. Whatever 22 |

Online The online program contains both the information in the manual as well as the videos on the DVD.

Restaurant managers know that a robust safety training program is essential for a number reasons. 1. To remain compliant. 2. To maintain a safe work environment. 3. To help reduce workers’ compensation claims and improve safety ratings and experience factors. Why is this important? For WRA Retro participants, fewer accidents can mean a reduction in premiums and a healthy refund of premiums already paid. Also, lower insurance costs can mean more money in your pocket. Simply put, the Education safety program will help Washington operators save money and create a safer workplace for their employees at the same time. If you or your place of business is interested in finding out more about the WRA Education Foundation Safety Training Program, please contact the WRA’s Education Foundation Program Coordinator Kristina McLeod @ 360.956.7279 or by visiting ■

Crossing barriers between government and business: your Education Foundation is a secret weapon By Lyle Hildahl, WRA Education Foundation director

It’s time again to meet with our legislators in Olympia. The legislative session is around the corner and before you know it, Hill Climb & Taste Our Best will be here. As a restaurateur, it’s an opportunity to use your strongest arguments to encourage our government officials to assist, rather than be a barrier we have to deal with on a daily basis. When you sit down with your legislators, you might consider opening the conversation by mentioning the work you do with the education foundation through our many nationally acclaimed safety programs. Or perhaps you could tell them about your support of the ProStart program, which helps teens get jobs and build careers. They will listen and the government barrier will drop for a moment. Take advantage of the power of the foundation. As a former restaurant owner, I found it very frustrating to work with a plethora of government agencies putting up barriers to running my business. I wanted to focus on team motivation, customer service, hospitality, food and beverage and entertainment—the stuff that motivated me to get in the business in the first place. But as an owner, I was spending most of my time on taxes, permits, licenses, inspections, lawsuits, etc. from the DOL, WSLCB, DOR, DOH, L&I, INS, ICE. The list goes on, and as a business operator I’m sure you know what each of those agency abbreviations stand for! One of my best discoveries in dealing with these government agencies was that I did not have to do it alone. By joining the WRA and reaching out to them, I found some comfort in having a resource to channel my frustrations and frequently gained tangible positive results. WRA leaders at the time—Gene Vosberg, Trent House and Anthony Anton (back when he was director of WRA government affairs)—were quite helpful whenever I needed them.

Another discovery I made was the education foundation (EF). It turns out that the foundation works with the majority of the government agencies I listed. Connecting with the EF helped me build better relations with government agencies and inspectors, which in turn created a business environment that the agencies looked to support, rather than close down. When people (the agencies’ staffs) like you, they tend to support you. If they don’t like you, well… it can be a less than pleasant experience. In addition to the government agencies the EF works with on a daily basis, they also are well-connected to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board through the ProStart program. This is one of the most powerful tools available to us in building strong legislative support for the restaurant industry. Through ProStart, graduation rates go up, at-risk teens find a way to succeed, restaurants find motivated and talented workers and, ultimately, the economy grows. Pretty amazing how that works, huh? In 2011, our GA team invited Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry to a lunch prepared by the Moses Lake High School ProStart students, as well as a tour of the site of a new skills center. Learning about the impact this program, and those kids, had on the community in Moses Lake, Sen. Holmquist Newbry became one of our best supporters. I strongly believe that the ultimate outcome of building relationships with kids, teachers, government officials and the agencies is TRUST. Once you have that, the barriers come down and the path to success is made clear. Why not give it a try? The WRA and WRAEF have 46 board members, 125 industry ambassadors, 30 team members, 32 ProStart high schools and 5,000-plus members to support you, your business and our economy. Get connected. Start the relationship. It all comes down to trust. ■

January 2014 | 23

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Executive Committee Meeting

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Ask the Expert | Restaurant Profit Coach

Three ways to stay relevant in the offseason By Rick Braa, CHAE


This is the most difficult time of year for our business. The majority of our sales are seasonal and we are now in the offseason. What ways can I maximize our business to keep from building a big hole?


Seasonal businesses face a difficult challenge when times are busy and when times are slow. It’s not unusual for a seasonal business to produce 65 to 75 percent of annual sales during peak season. For many seasonal businesses the non-peak season creates cash flow issues, staffing crises and morale issues. To stay relevant, this is the time for you as the leader to do your best and most difficult work. Staff appropriately for the season. Evaluate how much management you need for coverage. Ask lower level managers to take working shifts where they have direct interaction with the guest, cover revenue producing shifts and earn tips. Adjust base pay to the level of what that position pays. Tips will make up the difference. In essence, you are asking the manager to step down for the season to a working position resulting in huge benefits to the restaurant. You should see a higher, more profitable guest visit with some of the best product and service your guests can experience. Next, reduce the workforce to fit the business, don’t struggle to find a person hours. Let the staff pursue positions with other businesses by partnering with seasonal businesses that are opposite seasons to yours. It is better to share employees between businesses than to lose them all together. There are plenty of restaurants that are busy in the fall/winter months and busy during the spring/summer, partner with a business with peak seasons opposite of your own. Connect with your guest socially. Blog, tweet, post and educate your guests. Social media is best used to stay connected to your guests. Positioning your business as a subject matter expert will create top of mind awareness. Blog recipes, cooking tips, wine tips and the pieces of your business in which you excel. In most businesses 60 to 80 percent of sales are made from repeat guests. This is the season to focus on bringing them in one more time by creating an incentive to come back sooner. Think of the struggles of the greeting card industry that has massive, seasonal sales around holidays such as Valentine’s and Mother’s Day. To solve this issue, the industry focused on obscure, special days. Suddenly we have Administrative

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Professional Day, Grandparent’s Day, etc. By celebrating a wider variety of special days the greeting card business expanded to be less seasonal. Build a plan around special days and market heavily to promote them. Be proactive around the specials days in your guests’ lives such as birthdays, anniversaries and special celebrations. Pick up the phone and dial for sales and loyalty. Lastly, use your loyalty program and if you don’t have one, develop one. There are plenty of easy programs available, some will even integrate with your credit card processing for the same price as your current credit card provider. Innovate your business. This is the time of year to analyze your business behaviors. Look at profitability with a critical eye. Scour menu mix data to see what is selling and what isn’t. Analyze trends in day parts such as breakfast, lunch and dinner. Look at each day of the week as a separate profit center and analyze sales and staffing, especially in the kitchen. Look at sales per server and open and close times. Perform a repair and maintenance walk through and focus on fixing small things, while also scheduling capital expenditures. Get all your performance reviews completed and audit your personnel files to ensure you have proper documentation for each employee. Meet with key employees and guests and ask for their feedback one-on-one on how to build a better business. Brainstorm and select one rally cry for the upcoming year, then communicate and over communicate that rally cry. If that rally cry is sales, make sure every person on staff is involved in understanding his or her role in meeting goals and why you want to build sales. This is the season for teaching, training, development and innovation. Do your best work when it’s slower and you’ll see better results. The crew won’t put effort beyond that of their leader. Make this the year you provide leadership, motivation and inspiration at the highest level. ■ For a more information on improving profitability and driving sales, contact AMP Services at Rick Braa is the co-founder of AMP Services, an accounting and consulting firm specializing in helping companies grow profitability.

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Washington Restaurant Magazine January 2014  

2014 Legislative Session Overview What’s in store for the restaurant industry during the upcoming legislative session?

Washington Restaurant Magazine January 2014  

2014 Legislative Session Overview What’s in store for the restaurant industry during the upcoming legislative session?