HistoryThe Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) evolved from the Georgia Restaurant Council (GRC), which was created in early 2003 by a small group of prominent Georgia restaurateurs, including Karen Bremer, Phil Hickey, Pano Karatassos, Alan LeBlanc, Perry McGuire and George McKerrow. Ron Wolf, a former executive with Atlanta-based AFC Enterprises, Inc., and Bass Hotels, was hired by the founders to be the Association's first executive director. Wolf retired in 2010. Karen Bremer was hired by the Board of Directors as Executive Director in September of 2010.
The GRC was created in response to the belief that an independent restaurant association was needed to represent Georgia's restaurant industry, which had previously been served by the Georgia Hospitality & Travel Association (GH&TA). Established in 1977, GH&TA operated three hospitality associations under one umbrella - a hotel association, a restaurant association, and a travel association.
A major milestone in the growth of the GRC was the merger of the former GRA (under the GH&TA) and the GRC into a new, unified association, called the (new & improved) Georgia Restaurant Association. In August of 2004, the GH&TA board of directors voted to disband the GH&TA. The hotel association re-incorporated into the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association (GH&LA), while the travel association ceased operation. As a result of the merger, the National Restaurant Association established a Dual Membership agreement with the new GRA.
Since the merger, the GRA has swelled to a membership representing almost 4,000 restaurants. With a chapter in Savannah, and members across the state, the GRA continues to grow.
Today, the GRA provides a unified voice for an industry comprising over 16,000 foodservice and drinking places in the state of Georgia with total sales in excess of $14 billion and provides more jobs (375,000+) than any other non-government employer in the state.