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  • 17 Jul 2014 1:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Savannahnow.com
    BY WALTER C. JONES
    Morris News Service

    ATLANTA - A temporary, appointed committee met Wednesday to begin the process of updating the state’s laws dealing with alcohol production, sales and consumption in an effort to simplify commerce, but some in the industry hope it will go further.

    “We just want to make it easier on people -- that are looking at the code section, folks in the state of Georgia, businesses that come before the Revenue Department -- make it easier for them to do business with the state,” said Rep. Howard Maxwell, the committee’s chairman and also head of the House Regulated Industries Committee that deals with alcohol issues.

    The point is to clean up confusing terminology and consolidate some provisions that are scattered throughout various sections of the legal code as a result of years of individual law changes that weren’t necessarily coordinated with one another. For example, the definition for a case of packaged bottles or cans isn’t clearly spelled out, and the required licensing fees are listed in a handful of sections. Growlers, which are 1-liter bottles customers bring from home for filling, aren’t mentioned at all in the law even though Department of Revenue regulates them.

    It’s a process lawmakers call housekeeping.

    Maxwell, a veteran Republican lawmaker from Dallas, wants the committee to shy away from heavy-duty policymaking. But he knows there are groups that want to make major changes, such as the craft brewing and distilling industry that has recently developed in Georgia.

    The micro-distillers and brewers want to be able to sell directly to customers who visit their facilities like vineyards do. Customers are most interested in taking a few bottles or a case home with them just after they have seen the making, met the craftsmen and heard the story of the unique ingredients. The buying urge fades when they have to leave to find a package store down the road.

    But Georgia operates under a three-tiered system of distribution that evolved in the aftermath of Prohibition where the producers can only sell to wholesalers who can only sell to retailers.

    “Everyone is all torn up about ‘three tiers’ and want to start tearing up stuff and ... changing policy and all,” Maxwell told the assembled lobbyists. “I said we’re not here to do that.”

    Many of the lobbyists attending were happy with limiting things to housekeeping, such as Stony McGill of the Georgia Alcohol Dealers Association, the store owners not wanting to compete for direct sales with producers.

    “The goal is to wordsmith the code section to make it where everything is consistent,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any change in policy coming from this.”

    And Karen Bremer, lobbyist for the Georgia Restaurant Association, says there is plenty of confusion to be resolved. Local governments apply the law differently in different parts of the state, she said, which can complicate matters for restaurant chains.

    “I think it makes it harder for people to expand their business,” she said.

    But Maxwell recognizes that the micro-brewers and distillers are eager for change. Last year they pushed through a provision that allows them to give visitors a single, half-ounce sample.

    It was a victory they hope to build upon in the next legislative session.

    Maxwell anticipates holding them off at least to clean up the existing problems in the law.

    “I hope we can keep the cats corralled long enough to get that done,” he said.
  • 11 Jul 2014 1:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Atlanta Business Chronicle

    Welcome to the 2014 Hospitality Who’s Who special section.

    Each year we bring you the top 100 names and faces of those who make it their business to welcome the world to metro Atlanta.

    To put together this guide, we drew from our annual Book of Lists and include names from our top companies by category. Inside, you’ll find leaders of top hotels and attractions in the area, as well as the leaders of area convention and visitor bureaus; leaders of top arts and entertainment companies and venues; executives of Atlanta’s top sports teams, their arenas and stadiums; leaders of some of the area’s major festivals; top industry association directors; and leaders of some of the top restaurant groups. We also include industry leaders who make significant contributions within the hospitality industry.

    - Lisa R. Schoolcraft, Industry Focus Editor

    ASSOCIATIONS

    Karen I. Bremer

    Georgia Restaurant Association, Executive director

    Career highlights: With more than 35 years in the hospitality industry, Bremer is the executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association, representing one of the largest industries in the state. The GRA serves as the unified voice for more than 16,000 food service and drinking places in the state of Georgia with total sales in excess of $16.5 billion, which provides more than 405,800 jobs. Bremer is a founding member of GRA. www.garestaurants.org

    Click here to view the full list.

  • 09 Jul 2014 3:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: The Augusta Chronicle
    By Walter C. Jones
    Morris News Service

    ATLANTA - A coalition of Georgia business and labor organizations called Wednesday for immediate federal immigration reform, citing a new poll they say shows a majority of the voters surveyed agree.

    However, the same survey also showed that just 5 percent of those questioned listed immigration reform as the most important issue facing the country.

    The call for reform came from representatives of the Technology Association of Georgia, the Georgia Restaurant Association, the Georgia Poultry Federation and the unions ALF-CIO and Workers United.

    “You cannot dismiss the economic data because it is clear; it is compelling; it is real, and it is conservative,” said ex-Sen. Sam Zamarippa, D-Atlanta, the founder of The Essential Economy Council.

    The majority of cooks and dishwashers are immigrants, according to Karen Bremer, executive director of the Restaurant Association, who said U.S.-born workers either don’t apply for those jobs or won’t keep them long.

    And the high incidence of identity theft makes it difficult for employers to verify citizenship of people who do apply.

    “The problem: there is virtually no legal way for less-skilled foreigners without family in the U.S. to enter the country and work in year-round jobs, virtually no temporary or permanent work visas, except for seasonal jobs,” she said.

    The coalition supports granting more visas to high-skilled and low-skilled immigrants, tougher border security and a way for undocumented aliens to become U.S. citizens.

    Since one in four high-tech startups – such as Google and eBay – has a recent immigrant among its founders, immigration reform should strengthen the economy, according to Tino Mantella, the president of the Technology Association of Georgia.

    “If there’s an argument that immigrants take American jobs, I think the reverse is true,” he said.

    The coalition released a survey showing two out of three likely voters questioned agreed with a 65-word statement of the group’s stance.

    Thirty percent expressed some level of opposition and 8 percent weren’t sure.

    “Would you support or oppose an immigration reform plan that secures our borders, expands visas for high-skill workers and farm workers, provides an employer verification program, allows young persons brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents an opportunity to earn citizenship, and provides visas to live and work here legally to undocumented immigrants without a criminal record who pay penalties and back taxes?”

    But pollster Matt Towery, the president of Insider­Advantage, cautions not to put too much stock into the responses.

    “This type of broad language is sort of like a net designed to catch all fish. The problem is that voters don’t make such mental gymnastics in determining how they feel about an issue,” he said. “I think a more straightforward question might yield less favorable results, although I will say that in past surveys Georgians have been a bit more open to immigration reform than many might suspect."

    Phil Kent, a member of the Georgia Immigration Enforcement Review Board, dismissed the poll results completely.

    “This is one of the most convoluted polling questions I’ve seen in a while,” he said. “...They’re trying to shoehorn support for amnesty by clever wording of this question.”

    Meanwhile, the candidates for the U.S. Senate didn’t let the poll change their position. Republicans David Perdue and Jack Kingston say the flow of undocumented immigrants must be stopped before there is any consideration of relaxing the rules.

    “Enforce the law. Secure the border. No amnesty,” Perdue spokesman Derrick Dickey said.

    Libertarian nominee Amanda Swafford also blames Obama but holds a slightly different view on how to solve the bigger issue of immigration.
    “In concert with stripping all entitlement-based incentives to current illegal immigration, I would subsequently remove incentives that prop up and support the exploitation of the ‘Coyote’ industry,” she said.

    However, Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn does favor allowing law-abiding immigrants to become citizens.

    “We need comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders and provides an accountable pathway to citizenship that requires those currently living here go to the back of the line, pass a background check, learn English and pay back taxes,” she said. “Fixing our broken immigration will both create jobs and cut our deficit.”
  • 09 Jul 2014 11:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Savannahnow.com
    By: Walter C. Jones 

    ATLANTA - A coalition of Georgia business and labor organizations called Wednesday for immediate federal immigration reform, citing a new poll they say shows a majority of the voters surveyed agree.

    However, the same survey also showed that just 5 percent of those questioned listed immigration reform as the most important issue facing the country.

    The call for reform came from representatives of the Technology Association of Georgia, the Georgia Restaurant Association, the Georgia Poultry Federation and the unions ALF-CIO and Workers United.

    “You cannot dismiss the economic data because it is clear; it is compelling; it is real, and it is conservative,” said ex-Sen. Sam Zamarippa, D-Atlanta, founder of The Essential Economy Council.

    The majority of cooks and dishwashers are recent immigrants, according to Karen Bremer, executive director of the Restaurant Association, who said U.S.-born workers either don’t apply for those jobs or won’t keep them long. And the high incidence of identity theft makes it difficult for employers to verify citizenship of people who do apply.

    “The problem: there is virtually no legal way for less-skilled foreigners without family in the U.S. to enter the country and work in year-round jobs, virtually no temporary or permanent work visas, except for seasonal jobs,” she said.

    Seeking more visas

    The coalition supports granting more visas to both high-skilled and low-skilled immigrants, tougher border security and a way for undocumented aliens to become U.S. citizens.

    Since one in four high-tech startups - like Google and eBay - has a recent immigrant among its founders, immigration reform should strengthen the overall economy, according to Tino Mantella, president of the Technology Association of Georgia.

    “If there’s an argument that immigrants take American jobs, I think the reverse is true,” he said, adding that one-quarter of Georgia technology executives complain it takes about six months to fill core jobs.

    The coalition released a survey showing two out of three likely voters questioned agreed with a 65-word statement of the group’s stance. Thirty percent expressed some level of opposition and 8 percent weren’t sure.

    “Would you support or oppose an immigration reform plan that secures our borders, expands visas for high-skill workers and farm workers, provides an employer verification program, allows young persons brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents an opportunity to earn citizenship, and provides visas to live and work here legally to undocumented immigrants without a criminal record who pay penalties and back taxes?”

    Questionable language

    But pollster Matt Towery, president of InsiderAdvantage, cautions not to put too much stock into the responses.

    “This type of broad language is sort of like a net designed to catch all fish. The problem is that voters don’t make such mental gymnastics in determining how they feel about an issue,” he said. “I think a more straightforward question might yield less favorable results, although I will say that in past surveys Georgians have been a bit more open to immigration reform than many might suspect. Right now though, with all that is taking place, my guess is the ‘secure the borders’ part of the survey is about all the respondents are reacting to.”

    Phil Kent, a member of the Georgia Immigration Enforcement Review Board, dismissed the poll results completely.

    “This is one of the most convoluted polling questions I’ve seen in a while,” he said. “...They’re trying to shoehorn support for amnesty by clever wording of this question.”

    Meanwhile, the candidates for the U.S. Senate didn’t let the poll change their position. Republicans David Perdue and Jack Kingston say the flow of undocumented immigrants must be stopped before there is any consideration of relaxing the rules.

    “Enforce the law. Secure the border. No amnesty,” Perdue spokesman Derrick Dickey said.

    Kingston: This is a disaster

    Kingston held a press conference Wednesday with representatives of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which supports immigration reform. He said he disagrees with the chamber on that issue and accuses President Barack Obama of lax immigration enforcement, blaming it for the current influx of unaccompanied child immigrants.

    “This is a disaster that is man-made. A billion-dollar disaster,” Kingston said.

    Libertarian nominee Amanda Swafford also blames Obama but holds a slightly different view on how to solve the bigger issue of immigration.

    “In concert with stripping all entitlement-based incentives to current illegal immigration, I would subsequently remove incentives that prop up and support the exploitation of the ‘Coyote’ industry,” she said.

    However, Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn does favor allowing law-abiding immigrants to become citizens.

    “We need comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders and provides an accountable pathway to citizenship that requires those currently living here go to the back of the line, pass a background check, learn English and pay back taxes,” she said. “Fixing our broken immigration will both create jobs and cut our deficit.”

  • 09 Jul 2014 11:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution
    By: Jeremy Redmon 

    Georgia business leaders on Wednesday released the results of a survey showing most people in this state support offering legal status or U.S. citizenship to immigrants living illegally here.

    Of those polled, 35 percent said they would support legal status for them; 26 percent would support eligibility for citizenship; 34 percent want all those living here illegally to be deported; and 5 percent are not sure.

    Harper Polling surveyed 509 likely Georgia voters by telephone between June 26 and June 30. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points. The polling firm did the work for the Partnership for a New American Economy, a group of business leaders and mayors who support offering a pathway to legal status for immigrants living illegally in the U.S. Among the group’s co-chairmen are former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.

    The poll results also show 88 percent of those surveyed say the nation’s immigration system needs to be fixed. Further, most said they would strongly or somewhat support a plan that would bolster border security, offer more visas for high-skilled foreign workers and farm laborers and provide a program to verify whether people are legally allowed to work in the U.S.

    Last year, the Democratic-led Senate passed bipartisan immigration legislation that would do all of those things. But the bill has stalled in the Republican-controlled House. GOP House leaders have refused to allow a vote on the bill, saying it would reward lawbreakers with amnesty. They want to instead take a piecemeal approach to overhauling the nation’s immigration laws.

    “Our broken immigration system is not a problem that can be put off,” Karen Bremer, executive director Georgia restaurant Association, said in a prepared statement Wednesday. “I need certainty for our industry - and we as a nation need the certainty that comes with getting control of our borders and restoring the rule of law. The stakes could hardly be higher. We need Congress to act.”

  • 09 Jul 2014 11:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: CBS 46
    By Will Frampton

    ATLANTA (CBS46) -

    Several of Georgia's business leaders convened Wednesday to present their ideas on immigration reform, measures they say are critical to maintaining a workforce that has been hurt by a lack of people to fill certain jobs.

    "The stakes could hardly be higher," said Karen Bremmer, Executive Director of the Georgia Restaurant Association. "We need Congress to act (on immigration reform)."

    During a time when the immigration crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border has taken center stage across the nation, Bremmer and her business colleagues talked about the need to allow some illegal immigrants, already in the United States, to seek a path to citizenship.

    "We need that talent, we need it here, and we need it now," said Tino Mantella, Executive Director of the Technology Association of Georgia. He said work visa denials have had a crippling impact on Atlanta's economy. "We need that talent from around the world to come here," he said.

    The contingency of business leaders also said they would favor securing the border, but with a more open process for people to obtain work visas, and a "workable employment verification system."

    Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

    Posted: Jul 09, 2014 6:24 PM EDTUpdated: Jul 09, 2014 6:30 PM EDT

  • 02 Jul 2014 11:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Explore Georgia

    The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) revealed the finalists for the 8th Annual Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards. These finalists are peer-nominated and the winners will be announced November 2nd at the GRACE. We are proud to

    The GRACE Awards recognize and pay tribute to the leaders who have made outstanding contributions to Georgia’s restaurant industry. All finalists are peer nominated, which ensures that we honor the most deserving of our Industry. To learn more about the GRACE Awards, or purchase tickets, visit www.garestaurants.org/GRACE.

    2014 GRACE AWARDS FINALISTS

    Restaurateur of the Year

    George Frangos and Jason Mann, Farm Burger
    Neal McCarthy and Steven Satterfield, Miller Union
    Jennifer and Ben Johnson, Shelley Sweet, West Egg Café, The General Muir, Fred’s Meat & Bread, Yalla and Todd Ginsberg, The General Muir, Fred’s Meat & Bread, Yalla
    Industry

    Partner of the Year
    Fishbowl
    Georgia Power
    United Healthcare

    Distinguished Service Award
    Atlanta Community Food Bank
    Chick-fil-A
    Waffle House

    The Innovator Award
    Kevin Gillespie, Gunshow
    Nick Melvin, Doux South and Venkman’s
    Jiyeon Lee and Cody Taylor, Sobban

    Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    Hal Nowak of Hal’s on Old Ivy

    Chairman’s Award
    Commissioner Gary W. Black, Georgia Department of Agriculture

    For more information, ticket reservations, and/or sponsorship opportunities, visit the website at www.garestaurants.org/GRACE.

    Georgia Tourism partnered with the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) to incorporate the association’s complete list of restaurants on www.exploregeorgia.org.
  • 01 Jul 2014 11:27 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Sunbelt Foodservice
    BY: Karen Bremer, Executive Director Georgia Restaurant Association 

    Each September, Share Our Strength’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry campaign encourages Americans to dine out to fight childhood hunger.

    During this month, restaurants across America come together for this initiative and pledge to raise funds from their restaurants to help aid the 16 million kids in America who are living in households without dependable access to nutritious meals. By choosing to Dine Out For No Kid Hungry, we can help ensure that the nation’s youth is receiving access to healthy food year-round and on a daily basis.

    Share Our Strength’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry launched in 2008 and since then has raised more than $18 million towards helping end childhood hunger. Through the support of thousands of restaurants and millions of consumers, these funds have contributed to school breakfast and summer meals programs and raised awareness for the cause in local communities across the country.

    Consider these facts, courtesy of dineout.nokidhungry.org: Three out of five K-8 public school teachers say they regularly see students come to school hungry and 17.5 percent is the average increase in standardized math scores seen by students who regularly start the day with a healthy breakfast. Hunger hinders children from reaching their full potential and Dine Out For No Kid Hungry helps ensure that these children have access to proper nutrition to help them exceed in school and beyond.

    Giving back to the community is crucial, and the restaurant community never hesitates to step up and help out.

    The Arby’s Foundation serves as a Core Partner to the Dine Out For No Kid Hungry campaign and works on other initiatives for the organization year-round. Last year, as part of their 10th anniversary year, Ted’s Montana Grill pledged to raise $150,000 to Dine Out For No Kid Hungry and Mellow Mushroom had limited edition T-shirts for donating a certain amount towards the initiative. These are just a few examples of the participating restaurants and how they are contributing to the cause.

    This September, register your restaurant and join the thousands of restaurants nationwide who are helping to end childhood hunger through the Dine Out For No Kid Hungry campaign. The money raised will benefit the 1 in 5 children who are struggling with hunger and provide them with the nutritious meals that they need to learn, grow and exceed. To learn more and to sign up to participate, visit http://dineout.nokidhungry.org.
  • 24 Jun 2014 9:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The Dish from Melissa Libby & Associates

    The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) has announced the finalists for the Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards, and Kevin Gillespie of Gunshow is one of the three finalists up for The Innovator Award. Finalists are peer-nominated and distinguished by their outstanding contributions to the Georgia restaurant industry, and winners will be announced at the GRACE Awards Gala in November. Congratulations, Kevin!
  • 18 Jun 2014 10:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    FSR Magazine

    The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) revealed the finalists for the 8th Annual Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards. These finalists are peer-nominated and the winners will be announced November 2 at the GRACE Awards Gala to be held at The Foundry at Puritan Mill in Atlanta, Georgia. The GRA will also honor this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Hal Nowak of Hal's on Old Ivy.

    The GRACE Awards recognize and pay tribute to the leaders who have made outstanding contributions to Georgia's restaurant industry. All finalists are peer nominated.

    Restaurateur of the Year
    George Frangos, Farm Burger
    Neal McCarthy and Steven Satterfield, Miller Union
    Jennifer and Ben Johnson, Shelley Sweet, West Egg Café, The General Muir, Fred's Meat & Bread, Yalla and Todd Ginsberg, The General Muir, Fred's Meat & Bread, Yalla

    Industry Partner of the Year
    Fishbowl
    Georgia Power
    UnitedHealthcare

    Distinguished Service Award

    Atlanta Community Food Bank
    Chick-fil-A
    Waffle House

    The Innovator Award
    Kevin Gillespie, Gunshow
    Nick Melvin, Doux South and Venkman's
    Jiyeon Lee and Cody Taylor, Sobban

    Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

    Hal Nowak of Hal's on Old Ivy

    Chairman’s Award

    Commissioner Gary W. Black, Georgia Department of Agriculture
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