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  • 02 Sep 2014 4:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    By Karen Bremer

    Source: www.myajc.com

    The cost of doing business has become increasingly expensive. It’s the product of repeated bad policies by elected officials following an aggressive agenda by organized labor. Ironically, the economic havoc they leave in their wake will eliminate the very jobs they proclaim to protect.

    Earlier this month, the National Labor Relations Board overturned a 30-year rule that gave local franchisees, including many that operate in Atlanta, the freedom to run their day-to-day business practices independently of their franchiser.

    The franchising model has successfully created millions of jobs; it did so by helping aspiring business owners realize their dream by offering resources to launch a locally owned operation underindividual management. This includes everything from capital investment to hiring employees and setting shift schedules to disciplinary actions and terminations.

    Unions, dissatisfied with declining numbers, would much rather target big corporations than a small, locally owned business with fewer employees. It has pushed to remove the traditional division between them and make franchisers liable for franchisees’ employment practices, though franchisers have no control over these practices. By tying franchisees to the hip of their parent company, labor unions can redefine a “small business” as “big business” and go after the parent in their organizing efforts.

    This dissolution of the “joint-employer standard” will have a chilling effect on job creation, particularly in Atlanta, which leads the nation as home to the most franchise headquarters. Aspiring business owners will be less likely to pursue their dreams, since they will face a lot more hurdles as a franchisee. Franchisers will have to be more involved in the day-to-day activities of local employment practices, which will add to their franchisees’ costs. In the end, jobs will be impacted.

    But it doesn’t end here. Unions are emboldened by the NLRB ruling and have begun a renewed push to demand minimum-wage hikes from business - as high as $15 per hour, more than double the current federal minimum wage.

    Any hike in the minimum wage comes with an undesirable price tag. Restaurants are low-profit, low-margin operations. On average, a third of their budgets goes to wages and benefits. When the cost of labor rises for a restaurant operator, hard choices follow. Entry-level job opportunities are diminished, and employee hours are scaled back or, worse, eliminated altogether.

    Read the full article.

    Karen Bremer is executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association.
  • 26 Aug 2014 1:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Buckhead Business Radio

    Featuring David Audrain and Stephanie Everett with Exposition Development Co., Karen Bremer with Georgia Restaurant Association, Josh Brass with US Foods, Mark Haidet with Siftit & Takorea, Archna Becker with Bhojanic

    Listen to the Podcast: Play in new window | Download

    Karen Bremer/Georgia Restaurant Association
    Executive Director

    Karen I. Bremer Executive Director, Georgia Restaurant Association With over 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 over 16,000 foodservice 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 the GRA, Past President of the GRA Board and has served on the board of directors for the National Restaurant Association, Atlanta Convention & Visitor’s Bureau (ACVB) and Team Georgia. Currently, Bremer serves on the Industry Board of Georgia State University’s Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality, Board of Directors of DeKalb CVB, Atlanta Community Food Bank, Council of State Restaurant Associations and the Arby’s Foundation. She has also been inducted to Les Dames d’escoffier International and the International Women’s Forum. Bremer was the former owner of Dailey’s and City Grill restaurants and was a top executive with the Peasant Restaurant Group, starting out as a manager and ultimately being named its President. Bremer has garnered numerous awards including the ACVB Member of the Year Award in 2002 for her role in founding Downtown Atlanta Restaurant Week. In 2009, Bremer received the Lifetime Achievement GRACE (Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence) Award for her outstanding contributions to Georgia’s restaurant industry. Recently, Bremer has also been listed as a notable Georgia by Georgia Trend Magazine for back to back years in 2012 and 2013.

  • 21 Aug 2014 4:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: Atlanta Real Estate Forum

    Listen to the Recording

    This week’s Around Atlanta guests on Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio are Dale DeSensa, president and founder of Taste of Atlanta, and Ryan Costigan with the Georgia Restaurant Association. Together, these two organizations have collaborated to create Georgia’s Edible Agricultural Tour, also known as EAT GA.

    EAT GA is a dining program that aims to support the Georgia Grown program through unique dinner events that teach patrons how important it is to use local produce from Georgia’s farms. These fun, educational dinners help consumers learn from local chefs and farmers while enjoying delicious farm-to-table fare. At an event, the guest or in-house chef will introduce a dish. While attendees are dining on it, the farmer that sourced the dish’s main vegetable will tell their story, from the process of growing the vegetable to what it means to be a local farmer. This allows diners to truly understand where their food comes while they’re eating it. In addition, EAT GA is a nonprofit organization, so all proceeds that remain from each event after all expenses have been paid are donated to local food banks.

    So far this year, EAT GA has hosted six events, including those in Athens, Savannah, Thomasville and Atlanta. The next event will be held at Kennesaw State University, which has a great sustainability program and its own farm, Hickory Grove. Each dinner event is different, with the chefs and farmers having control over the menu and which vegetables will be showcased. The KSU event in particular will bring local restaurateurs and farmers in to host a dinner using a variety of the items grown right on campus.

    The EAT GA organization was created in the wake of the popular farm-to-table, locally grown movement in an effort to support Georgia’s restaurants. More and more restaurants are looking to provide local foods and fresher ingredients for their diners, and this event highlights those possibilities and teaches everyone involved how to support local farmers.

    The Edible Agriculture Tour is an inclusive program, and Dale and Ryan heartily encourage anyone that has a food-related mission to get involved. The more people that participate in or partner with the program, the better the outcome will be for everyone in the state – restaurants, chefs, farmers and diners alike.

    To learn more about the Edible Agricultural Tour, listen to the full podcast above and then visit www.EATGA.com.

    ____________________________________________________________

    The “Around Atlanta” segment is designed to showcase the best of metro Atlanta – the communities, attractions and special events that make this city great. To submit your event, community or attraction to the Around Atlanta edition of Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio, contact mRELEVANCE at 770-383-3360.

    Please download and subscribe to all of the Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio podcasts on iTunes. If you like this week’s show, be sure to rate it.
  • 10 Aug 2014 4:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    By Dan Chapman and Leon Stafford 

    Higher-wage rallies in Atlanta have followed a predictable script - until now.

    Unions or their affiliates typically gather fast-food workers outside a Burger King or an Arby’s and bull-horn their grievances to sympathizers and bewildered passersby. As street theater goes, it’s fun but ineffectual. Pay for most fast-food workers has remained stuck at $7.25 an hour since the protests began nearly two years ago.

    Protesters yet again took to Atlanta streets earlier this month, but this time they were energized by a recent federal ruling that could lead to more pay and a unionized workforce. The fast-food industry in Atlanta - home to more chain-restaurant headquarters, 23, than any other city - was rocked by the National Labor Relations Board edict and vows to fight it in court.

    In essence, the NLRB ruling means unions could one day organize nationally among all McDonald’s workers, rather than one store at a time. Labor experts say it’s a huge boost for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which has tried to unionize fast-food restaurants the last few years. Its main grievance: low pay.

    “Today we are celebrating a major victory,” Neil Sardana, a community organizer with the nonprofit Jobs With Justice, said via megaphone to 15 activists protesting recently outside a McDonald’s on Fulton Industrial Blvd. “This campaign is really directed at the corporate headquarters of McDonald’s. You guys are responsible for low wages. You are the boss. (And) now we are one step closer to $15 an hour and a union.”

    Nowhere perhaps did the ruling reverberate louder than in Atlanta, headquarters for Arby’s, Chick-fil-A, Popeye’s and other fast-food franchises, as well as many hotel, retail and temp agency chains.

    “The restaurant industry is deeply concerned about this. It totally changes the nature of the franchisee-franchisor relationship,” said Karen Bremer, executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association. “It could have a significant effect on, gosh, wages, taxes, workman’s comp rates, insurance, you name it.”

    Bremer said the association will challenge the ruling in court. And it’s unlikely the local McDonald’s or Hooters will go union anytime soon. Still, the ruling, as well as the movement to raise the minimum wage, troubles the franchise and contracting industries.

    Click here to read the full article. 

  • 31 Jul 2014 9:24 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: Columbus CEO
    By Leon Stafford
    Courtesy of the Associated Press

    Most consumers will tell you they prefer fresh, tasty, healthy food over processed, greasy, assembly-line fare. Millennials, though, may be the first generation to back that up with their wallets.

    Fast-food operators say they are getting increasing pressure from the demographic - generally defined as 18- to 34-year olds - to boost the quality of menu items or risk losing millennials. At stake is more than $1 trillion in spending by the group to the fast-casual category, which includes chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill or Moe’s Southwest Grill.

    Readers of Consumer Reports, including millennials, the biggest generational group behind baby boomers, recently put such traditional chains as Burger King, Krystal and Church’s Chicken near the bottom of lists ranking fast food chains on quality, value and healthy options.

    The magazine noted that, despite higher prices, fast-casual alternatives such as Firehouse Subs and Five Guys Burgers and Fries were gaining in popularity because quality increasingly matters more to millennials than the convenience that has been fast food’s advantage for decades.

    “Millennials have a renewed fascination with food,” said David Farmer, vice president for product strategy and development for Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A. “They grew up on food television and are more knowledgeable about ingredients. And social media has put a lot of attention on quality and customization.”

    Esther Yi, 25, counts herself among that group. Yi, a business affairs coordinator at Georgia State University, is a foodie who thinks knowledge of the subject has been assimilated into the everyday lives of millennials. She thinks that leads them to be more interested in menu innovation, service and an expectation that food be “fresh” and sourced as locally as possible.

    And because of their Internet savviness, food is a social experience for millennials, who post dinner pictures to websites or critique menu items in reviews.

    “I don’t go to a place unless I ‘Yelp’ it,” Yi said.

    Working in fast food’s favor are the economic struggles of millennials. Though their economic clout is great because of their sheer number, they are faring worse financially than their parents - a reverse of typical monetary trends in America in which each successive generation does better than the last.

    In fact, millennials’ economic struggles have been blamed in part for the market share losses of more moderately priced sit-down chains such as Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Ruby Tuesday, experts said.

    But fast-food companies have struggled with the group because they are boxed into a menu that has to entice the broadest customer audience possible. And the more items they add to menus to grab more market share, the more crowded and confused their menus become.

    “Most marketing leaders will tell you to figure out who you are and be true to yourself,” said Karen Bremer, executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

    Read the full article.

    ©2014 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)
    Visit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.) at www.ajc.com
    Distributed by MCT Information Services
  • 31 Jul 2014 9:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: Access Atlanta 
    By Adrianne Murchison
    For the AJC

    It’s evening. You’ve just finished work, decide to stop in a restaurant for your favorite dish, and the hostess offers you a table shared with folks you don’t know.

    Don’t be put off. It’s a growing trend that’s been well received around metro Atlanta, according to Karen Bremer, executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

    “It started gaining popularity after Sept. 11,” Bremer said. “That’s when you started seeing that people wanted to sit together and not be by themselves.”

    For owners of two local restaurants, the sharing of tables, also known as communal dining, is simply a matter of spreading joy, food and even culture.

    Portuguese couple Maria and Jose Emidio Sapeta sometimes introduce diners to one another at monthly communal lunches held at their Sandy Springs restaurant, Emidio’s. Everyone there is friendly, and the atmosphere is surprisingly comfortable for a newcomer.

    In Midtown, Italian native Luca Varuni, the exuberant co-owner of Varuni Napoli, regularly welcomes patrons as friends and extended family to the communal tables in his restaurant.

    “I’m a guy who loves to be around people,” Varuni said. “If I’m not making pizza, I’m on the (restaurant) floor. People love that.”
    Returning patrons often greet Varuni with a hug and a chat before entering a long line to order their meal.

    Varuni Napoli’s menu features Neopolitan pizza. Popular selections include SpaccaNapoli pizza made with taleggio cheese, oak roasted mushrooms, carmelized onions, truffle oil and pecorino romano; and King of Napoli, with mozzarella, plum tomatoes, Vesuvius cherry tomato, hot capicolla, pecorino romano and basil. You also can create your own Margherita pizza.

    Born in Naples, Varuni comes from a family of chefs and started to develop his own cooking skills at age 14. He and partner Giancarlo Pirrone opened the restaurant in a former manufacturing warehouse in April, where the pizza makers working in the open kitchen and the dining area featuring white horizontal communal tables are a natural fit for a social setting.

    Tables can comfortably accommodate eight diners, but Varuni acknowledged that communal eating isn’t for everyone. There are a few smaller tables for two and a long dinner counter with seats facing the kitchen.

    Patrons at the restaurant on a recent evening appeared to take the idea of shared tables in stride.

    “Sometimes you talk to people you don’t know,” said diner Jason Ewing.
    “I think it’s new to Atlanta. It’s very European. I think it’s great,” added his friend, B.J. Guthrie.

    Like Varuni, the Sapetas welcome diners as friends at Emidio’s, where they serve a special Portuguese lunch with communal seating on the first Sunday of each month. (At other times, their restaurant features regular seating.)

    The Sapetas are from Madeira, Portugal. “I think culture and food go hand in hand,” Maria Sapeta said. “We want people to mingle with us. We like to share. That gives us a lot of satisfaction.”
    Her husband’s parents were chefs. He serves meals family-style at the communal lunch as his mother did at home in Madeira. “The house was always full of people and my mom would put all of the food on top of the table,” he said.

    Maria Sapeta said it’s a great way to introduce people who are not Portuguese to the culture.

    Emidio’s regular menu features Portuguese, Spanish and Italian meals. The Portuguese dishes are greatly influenced by Africa.
    “Our food is a little different from the (Portugal) mainland. Madeira is close to the coast of Africa. We eat a lot of collard greens, and Jadineira (beef stew with vegetables served with rice),” Jose Sapeta explained.

    Menu items include Carne a Alentejana, with cubes of lean pork marinated with wine and garlic, and cubes of potatoes and clams; and Zuppi Dippicci, a seafood stew with capellini and a marinara sauce.
    Portuguese dishes, grilled sardines and salted cod were popular at the July communal lunch.

    It was the second visit to the restaurant in three days for Aida Moreira, a native of Portugal, and her 11-year-old daughter, Catarina. The family had moved to metro Atlanta from Rhode Island that week.
    “My husband discovered it during his business travels,” Moreira said. “Very nice food. I came to socialize and get to know people.”
  • 25 Jul 2014 8:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: PerishableNews.com
    by Georgia Restaurant Association

    Atlanta, GA – Jim Stacy, television host and owner of Pallookaville Fine Foods, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies at the 8th Annual Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards to be held on Sunday, November 2nd at the Foundry at Puritan Mill in Atlanta, Ga. The GRACE Awards recognize and pay tribute to the leaders who have made outstanding contributions to Georgia's restaurant industry and all finalists are peer nominated, which ensures that we honor the most deserving of our industry.

    Stacy is the host of the award-winning cable show “Get Delicious!,” which airs on Atlanta’s Public Broadcasting television station PBA 30, and also serves as co-host of “Deep Fried Masters” on Discovery Channel’s Destination America. Stacy has appeared on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and is the owner of Palookaville Fine Foods in Avondale Estates, Ga. Stacy has five Emmys, three Telly Awards and a GABBY Award and is world famous for his corndogs.

    Previously, Stacy opened a restaurant in Athens, Ga. called The Downstairs, bartended at the internationally renowned Manhattan Café and bought the Star Community Bar in Little Five Points, which he sold to run the Starlight Drive-In Theatre (an Atlanta institution since 1949). He is currently Zagat rated and included in multiple “Best of” and “Top 10” lists.

    To learn more about the GRACE Awards, or purchase tickets, visit www.garestaurants.org/GRACE.

    About the Georgia Restaurant Association
    The GRA’s mission is to serve as the voice for Georgia’s restaurants in Advocacy, Education and Awareness. The GRA is sanctioned by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) to operate Georgia’s only not-for-profit representing the state’s foodservice industry. The GRA serves as the unified voice for over 16,000 foodservice and drinking places in the state of Georgia with total sales in excess of $16.5 billion which provides more than 405,800 jobs. From large chains to start-ups, the GRA helps make Georgia a better place for restaurants to do business and helps make restaurants better for Georgia.

    About the GRACE Awards
    The GRACE Awards is the Georgia Restaurant Association’s (GRA) annual black-tie gala event honoring Georgia’s Restaurant Industry. The GRACE awards are peer-nominated and honor the top finalists in the following categories: Restaurateur of the Year, Industry Partner of the Year, Distinguished Service Award and the Innovator Award. The winners are announced at the event and are presented with crystal works of art created by renowned local artist Hans-Godo Frabel.
    A portion of the proceeds from this event will go to benefit the Atlanta Community Food Bank, whose mission is to fight hunger by engaging, educating and empowering the community.

    For more information, ticket reservations and/or sponsorship opportunities, visit the GRA website at www.garestaurants.org/GRACE. For media inquiries, please contact Rachel Bell, marketing and communications manager, at (404) 467-9000 or rachel@garestaurants.org.

    Source: Georgia Restaurant Association
  • 24 Jul 2014 9:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    By Leon Stafford 

    Most consumers will tell you they prefer fresh, tasty, healthy food over processed, greasy, assembly line fare. Millennials, though, may be the first generation to back that up with their wallets.

    Fast-food operators say they are getting increasing pressure from thedemographic - generally defined as 18 to 34 year olds - to boost the quality of menu items or risk losing millennials. At stake is more than $1 trillion in spending by the group to the fast-casual category, which includes chains such as Chipotle Mexican Grill or Atlanta’s Moe’s Southwest Grill.

    Readers of Consumer Reports, including millennials, the biggest generational group behind baby boomers, recently put such traditional chains as Burger King, Krystal and Church’s Chicken near the bottom of lists ranking fast-food chains on quality, value and healthy options.

    The magazine noted that, despite higher prices, fast-casual alternatives such as Firehouse Subs and Five Guys Burgers and Fries were gaining in popularity because quality increasingly matters more to millennials than the convenience that has been fast-food’s advantage for decades.

    “Millennials have a renewed fascination with food,” said David Farmer, vice president for product strategy and development for Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A. “They grew up on food television and are more knowledgeable about ingredients. And social media has put a lot of attention on quality and customization.”

    Esther Yi, 25, counts herself among that group. Yi, a business affairs coordinator at Georgia State University, is a foodie who thinks knowledge of the subject has been assimilated into the every day lives of millennials. She thinks that leads them to be more interested in menu innovation, service and an expectation that food be “fresh” and sourced as locally as possible.

    Yelping it

    And because of their Internet savviness, food is a social experience for millennials, who post dinner pictures to websites or critique menu items in reviews.

    “I don’t go to a place unless I ‘Yelp’ it,” Yi said.

    Working in fast-food’s favor is the economic struggles of millennials. Though their economic clout is great because of their sheer number, they are faring worse financially than their parents - a reverse of typical monetary trends in America in which each successive generation does better than the last.

    In fact, millennials’ economic struggles have been blamed in part for the market share losses of more moderately priced sit-down chains such as Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Ruby Tuesday, experts said.

    But fast-food companies have struggled with the group because they are boxed into a menu that has to entice the broadest customer audience possible. And the more items they add to menus to grab more market share, the more crowded and confused their menus become.

    “Most marketing leaders will tell you to figure out who you are and be true to yourself,” said Karen Bremer, executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

    Read the full article.

  • 24 Jul 2014 9:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: Eater Atlanta
    By Chris Fuhrmeister

    BUCKHEAD - Share Our Strength's annual Give Me Five event will be held at Cherokee Town and Country Club at 5 p.m. on Sunday, August 17. The fundraiser will include a cocktail hour, live auction, and dinner menu from the likes of Michael Deihl, Sean Woods, Jonathan Beatty, Meherwan Irani, Eli Kirshtein, Dave Snyder, and Kathleen Miliotis. Individual tickets are $250, and a table of 10 is $2,500. Click here to purchase. [EaterWire]

    AWARDS SEASON - Jim Stacy, owner of Pallookaville Fine Foods, will host the Georgia Restaurant Association's GRACE Awards in November. The awards ceremony will take place November 2 at the Foundry at Puritan Mill. [EaterWire]

    DAHLONEGA - Enjoy a weekend of tastings at the third-annual Dahlonega Wine Trail. From noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 16, and 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, August 17, wine fans can enjoy festivities at five of Lumpkin County's vineyards: Frogtown Cellars, Three Sisters Vineyards and Winery, Montaluce Winery & Estates, Wolf Mountain Vineyards and Winery, and Cavender Creek Vineyards & Winery. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased online. [EaterWire]
  • 24 Jul 2014 9:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: QSR magazine

    Jim Stacy, television host and owner of Pallookaville Fine Foods, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies at the 8th Annual Georgia Restaurant Association Crystal of Excellence (GRACE) Awards to be held on Sunday, November 2, at the Foundry at Puritan Mill in Atlanta. The GRACE Awards recognize and pay tribute to the leaders who have made outstanding contributions to Georgia's restaurant industry and all finalists are peer nominated.

    Stacy is the host of the award-winning cable show “Get Delicious!,” which airs on Atlanta’s Public Broadcasting television station PBA 30, and also serves as cohost of “Deep Fried Masters” on Discovery Channel’s Destination America. Stacy has appeared on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and is the owner of Palookaville Fine Foods in Avondale Estates, Georgia. Stacy has five Emmys, three Telly Awards, and a GABBY Award, and is known for his corndogs.

    Previously, Stacy opened a restaurant in Athens, Georgia, called The Downstairs, bartended at the Manhattan Café, and bought the Star Community Bar in Little Five Points, which he sold to run the Starlight Drive-In Theatre, an Atlanta institution since 1949.
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