• 01 Apr 2012 1:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    At midnight on Thursday, March 29, the 40-day legislative session came to a close. We had some major victories - Garnishments, Brew Pub, Tax Court - and averted legislation which would have assigned mandatory restrictions to a voluntary benefit (Sick Pay). Now, many bills go to Governor Deal for his signature. We'll be following up on Monday with a full Sine Die Summary and the last Advocacy Bulletin of the year. 

    Passed – Awaiting the Governor’s Signature:
    ·  HB 100 (Georgia State Tax Tribunal):  Bill would establish a tax court to streamline business issues. 
    ·  HB 472 (Brew Pubs)
    ·  HB 514 (Distilled Spirits, free tastings on premises)
    ·  HB 1066 (Alcohol license/fees): Would stagger certain license renewal dates, change some provisions on distance requirements of retail stores from churches and schools, changes some license fees for special event applicants. 

    Dead In Session:
    ·  HB 432 (Sick Pay): Although not a mandate for employers, it would have allowed employees to use sick pay to care for immediate family members and prevent retaliatory action. 
    ·  SB 469 (Picketing at Private Residences): Would have made it illegal to mass picket outside a private residence.
  • 30 Mar 2012 2:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    This is the first in a series of blog posts on the healthcare law and the restaurant industry. The articles are written by Michelle Reinke Neblett, the National Restaurant Association's director of labor and workforce policy.

     The U.S. Supreme Court met March 26-28 to hear oral arguments  in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of some segments of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - most notably the mandate that most individuals must purchase health insurance or be fined. The court is expected to hand down a ruling in the case at the end of June.

    The Court chose to consider four questions that could determine whether the law stands:

    1. Is the consequence for not complying with the individual mandate a tax or penalty? If a tax, the Court cannot rule on the case until it is paid - in 2015.

    2. Is the individual mandate unconstitutional? Can individuals be required to purchase health insurance or face fines for noncompliance?

    3. If the individual mandate is ruled unconstitutional, is it severable from the rest of the law? Or does the entire law fall? Maybe it's just the individual mandate that falls, or the mandate plus guaranteed issue and community rating? That would force healthy individuals to subsidize the health-care costs of higher-risk consumers. Similarly, guaranteed issue world require insurers to approve coverage for all individuals.

    4. Is the expansion of Medicaid, which would permit coverage for everyone with incomes of less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level, unconstitutional? If so, can it be stricken?

    Severability would seriously affect restaurants. The reason: the Court chose not to directly consider the constitutionality of the employer mandate. For the employer mandate to fall, either the individual mandate or Medicaid expansion must be found unconstitutional and bring the rest of the law down with it. An article recently published in FLAME magazine explained the industry's position in favor of severability.

    While an outcome cannot be assumed based on the Justices' line of questioning, we can analyze the arguments for possible industry impact. The National Restaurant Association, along with lawyers representing the association before the Supreme Court, will presented a webinar for members on the topic. Email us at and let us know what you think about the law.

    For more information on the health care law, go to our Health Care Knowledge Center.
  • 22 Mar 2012 2:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Alliance Theatre 2012-2013 Taste of the Season

    Taste of the Season is the Alliance Theatre’s annual kick-off event which introduces the media, season ticket holders, donors, board members and the general public to the Alliance Theater’s 2012-13 Season. Taste of the Season will take place on Tuesday, May 22nd and Wednesday, May 23rd at 7pm. The event includes a sneak peek performance of upcoming 2012-13 productions followed by a reception featuring some favorite Atlanta restaurants. Expect a full house of 800 in attendance on both nights. 


    There is no cost to participate! Just provide enough samples* for 800 people, staff for set-up & serving, chafing and/or serving dishes and plates, napkins and utensils. 
    The Alliance will provide a six foot table, tablecloth, restaurant signage and on-site event assistance. 
    * Food needs to be ready to serve. 


    • Printed restaurant offer that will be handed to every patron in attendance 
    • Logo placement in: 
    - 2012-2013 Show Programs 
    - (12k hits per month) 
    - Woodruff Arts Center lobby LCD screens 
    - Taste of the Season pre-show slideshow
     • Patron offer in the Alliance Insider E-Newsletter (sent to 60k+)
     • Two (2) Opening Night Tickets to all 2012-2013 productions
    • Complimentary tickets for giveaways & drawings
    • Discount offer for all 2012-2013 productions specific to your restaurant’s name
    • Collateral display 


    Please contact Caroline Tanner to confirm your participation today!
    Caroline Tanner
    Alliance Theatre Brand Manager
  • 22 Mar 2012 9:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Atlanta Chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier International is pleased to offer their annual scholarships for education and continuing education Grants to FEMALE applicants pursuing culinary, beverage, hospitality, or agriculture coursework. The amount of each scholarship reward is a minimum of $1000. Grants are awarded in amounts determined by the Atlanta LDEI Board based on funds available for that year. Specific rules and criteria must be met before an applicant will be considered.

    Deadlines are as follows:
    05.15.2012 Scholarship and Grant Applications Due
    07.31.2012 Recipients Notified
    09.01.2012 Scholarship Monies Paid Directly to Named Educational Institution

    For more information regarding scholarships and/or grants, please visit the website or contact:

    Tamie Cook
    LDEI Scholarship Chair
    415 Womack Avenue
    East Point, GA 30344

  • 21 Mar 2012 9:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Big-game day at Buffalo Wild Wings may truly be the next best thing to actually being present at a sporting event. Banks of large-screen TVs are visible in every direction, and roaring cheers punctuate the broadcast commentator analysis. The sense of camaraderie and competition that exists on the field - or in the sports arena - permeates the dining atmosphere. Contributing to that experience is the fact that Buffalo Wild Wings broadcasts not just the video, but also the audio content associated with these events.

    "We want our guests to feel as if they're at the stadium, or inside the arena," says Barry Fortner, regional manager for Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants in portions of South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. "We encourage a festive atmosphere. Making the audio available enhances that sense of being there. "

    Because the telecasts include music as an integral feature, Buffalo Wild Wings partners with Broadcast Music, Inc. - BMI - to obtain licensing necessary to make audio available. Depending on the size of the restaurant, 95 to 100 televisions may be stationed in various areas of the facility, including the patios. Of paramount importance is the installation of state-of-the-art sound systems, especially since it is common for multiple events to be broadcast within a single dining zone.

    "Audio clarity is a prime consideration," Fortner says. "We don't want any sound distortion, which is something we have to be cognizant of with open ceilings. Our sound people have always figured out how to deal with that issue effectively."

    "Boxing, hockey, college football and college basketball - our guests want considerable volume for those types of events," Fortner says. "And soccer as well. Remember those horns that were such a big part of last year's World Cup? Our guests at our Greenville, South Carolina restaurant somehow managed to find those same types of horns, and began blowing them in the restaurant. It's that sort of great atmosphere that having audio helps to create."

    Buffalo Wild Wings encourages their personnel to become knowledgeable and fluent in matters related to sports. "We train our servers and bartenders to be able to talk with guests about the various teams, and about the players on those teams," Fortner says. The company also embraces a policy that seems counterintuitive, on the surface, in that it does not encourage fast table turns.

    "That's something that distinguishes us from lots of other sports bars and restaurants," Fortner says. "We encourage people to remain with us for the full length of the game, or the sporting event."

    Although its presence is sometimes subtle, music invariably is featured in all varieties of sports broadcasts. In that regard, BMI facilitates the procurement of licensing rights necessary for Buffalo Wild Wings to include audio in its televised sports presentations. Operating in a not-for-profit-making fashion, BMI distributes 86 cents of every dollar it collects in licensing as royalties to the more than 500,000 songwriters, composers and publishers the organization represents. A blanket licensing agreement between Buffalo Wild Wings and BMI allows the company's restaurants to broadcast any of the 7.5 millions songs in BMI's catalog, eliminating the need to secure licensing agreements on an individual basis.

    "We have always known that the energy and atmosphere our guests experience in our restaurants are key to our success," says Sally Smith, CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings. "We invest in big-screen TVs and great sound systems in order to give our guests a front row seat for all the action during their favorite sporting events. Working with BMI to license music for our more than 800 restaurant locations allows us to also play the audio to these matchups. It helps us create the kind of fun, high-energy dining experience that has made Buffalo Wild Wings a fan favorite for sports lovers of all kinds, which in turn has fueled our growth across the country."

    For more information on procuring audio licensing rights, go to
    For an overview of Music Copyright Law and How It Applies to Restaurants, please visit the National Restaurant Association's Legal Problem Solver.

  • 19 Mar 2012 9:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From Georgians for Pastured Poultry
    By Leah Garces, Published: March 14

    Georgians for Pastured Poultry (GPP) applauds Atlanta chef and entrepreneur Shaun Doty’s move to open the first fast-casual chicken rotisserie in the state committed to sourcing 100% local free-range and pastured chicken. Doty’s commitment to animal welfare is growing, he is also the co-founder and executive chef of Yeah!Burger, which is dedicated to using grass-fed beef.

    This announcement comes a month after GPP’s launch in Atlanta, where Shaun Doty prepared pasture raised chicken at the launch event. The coalition includes lead members Compassion in World Farming, Sierra Club and Georgia Organics.  The group has set out to make Georgia the number one producer and consumer of higher welfare chicken in the country.

    “I am personally deeply committed to using high welfare chicken not just because of the superior taste, but because it is more humane. People in Atlanta are demanding high welfare chicken, and I want to ensure that the demand is met,” said Shaun Doty.

    “We fully support Shaun’s pioneering move that will directly result in thousands of chickens  living a better life. As far as we are aware, this is the first fast-casual restaurant of its kind not just in the state, but in the southeast. Shaun is a true leader in his field and we are certain this will be a huge success.” said Leah Garces, USA Director for Compassion in World Farming.

    The restaurant is set to open in September 2012 in the Ansely mall shopping center at Piedmont Avenue and Monroe Drive.

  • 07 Mar 2012 1:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    From the Washington Post
    By Jane Black, Published: March 6

    At Jim ’N Nick’s Bar-B-Q in Birmingham, Ala., it’s policy that every day, everything is made from scratch: the pimento cheese, the hickory-smoked brisket and the lemon, chocolate and coconut pies. As if to prove a point, Jim ’N Nick’s owner Nick Pihakis refuses even to put a freezer in the kitchen.

    It makes sense if you know Pihakis. At 53, he has become a fixture on the sustainable Southern food scene. He is a co-founder of the Fatback Collective, which describes itself as a clan of “chefs, pitmasters, culturalists and eaters committed to porkfection” and he regularly pals around with the region’s culinary royalty: Charleston’s Sean Brock (McCrady’s and Husk), New Orleans’s Donald Link (Herbsaint and Cochon) and John Currence of the City Grocery in Oxford, Miss.

    One thing puts Pihakis in a very different league from his cohorts. Jim ’N Nick’s, a Southeastern chain with 27 outlets, competes with restaurants such as Famous Dave’s rather than fine-dining establishments. The restaurant’s average check size is $13. A substantial portion of its business comes from customers at the drive-through.

    His goal is to promote sustainable food in the world of casual dining, where pre-shaped burgers, frozen fries and gallon-size bags of salad dressings are kitchen norms. That means not only cooking from scratch but replacing factory-farmed pork with heritage breeds raised on smaller farms and contracting with local farmers to grow staples including pimentos, peppers, garlic, onions and jalapenos undefined all without raising prices above what his customers can afford.

    Pihakis is not the first chain restaurateur to wade into these murky waters. Chipotle’s Steve Ells has proved that serving high-quality, even local, meat can build customer loyalty undefined and profits. But Chipotle’s assembly-line, fast-food restaurants are less costly to run than Jim ’N Nick’s, which must pay servers and dishwashers and offers a menu with more variety.

    Perhaps Pihakis’s biggest challenge is that his customers appear happy with things just as they are. In 2011, the Birmingham News named Jim ’N Nick’s the best barbecue in the city. The one time Pihakis did try to introduce higher-quality meat undefined an antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken undefined with a slight price hike, customers complained. Pihakis returned to his former supplier of conventionally raised birds.

    However, Pihakis is determined to prove that good food doesn’t have to be expensive or highfalutin. “I don’t think good food has to cost that much more to produce,” Pihakis says. “It can be scaled. And that’s the only way we’re going to get it into the hands of mainstream Americans.”

    Pihakis says he always knew he wanted to be in the restaurant business. At 19, he got his first job as a bartender in Birmingham, his hometown. Eight years later, in 1985, Pihakis’s father, Jim, helped him open the first Jim ’N Nick’s. Today, the chain grosses $90 million a year and has outlets sprinkled across the southeast and in Colorado. Three more are set to open this year.

  • 02 Mar 2012 4:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Whether you’re planning to attend Hunger Walk/Run 2012 or not, you can still support the Atlanta Community Food Bank by making a donation at one of several participating restaurants. It’s simple; when presented with your check after your meal, you’ll see a space to make a donation. 

    Visit one of these participating restaurants now through Sunday March 11, 2012 and make a difference with your contribution.


  • 02 Mar 2012 12:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Blodgett/Pitco Mobile Innovation Trailer - Rolls Through the Southeast!

    The latest in commercial kitchen equipment innovations are on display in this live fully functional commercial test kitchen on wheels. Come attend one of the hourly cooking demonstrations that begin at 8:00 am through 2:00 pm.  Enjoy a light snack as they prepare today’s hottest food trends on the kitchen equipment of tomorrow.

    Products to be Demonstrated:
    - Hydrovection Oven, Convection Oven & Combi Oven
    - Spin Fresh Fryer & Low Oil Volume Fryer

    *Click* on a city below to reserve your spot on the State of Georgia tour:

    Savannah, GA - March 6th, 2012

    Macon, GA - March 7th, 2012

    Albany, GA - March 8th, 2012

    Atlanta, GA - March 20-22nd, 2012

    For more information please contact Michael Moore at (770)441-3100 ext. 2

  • 01 Mar 2012 10:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Provided by Taylor English Duma LLP

    Group Health Plan Disclosure Rules

    The IRS, the DOL and HHS issued final group health plan disclosure rules under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) which apply to self-insured as well as insured group health plans. These final rules are effective for plans years which begin on and after September 23, 2012. This effective date is intended to make the rules applicable to the up-coming open enrollment periods for 2013. The "plan sponsor" is responsible for compliance with these rules for a self-insured plan, and the insurance company is responsible for compliance for an insured plan. View the related disclosure rules and guidance document.


    The IRS recently published frequently asked questions from employers regarding automatic enrollment, employer shared responsibility and waiting periods under Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)
    The deadline for commenting on the FAQs is April 9, 2012.

    Final Fee Disclosure Regulations for Service Providers

    The DOL recently released its final fee disclosure regulations for service providers
    The DOL also issued a fact sheet on the final regulations.

    A plan fiduciary is subject to the prohibited transaction provisions of ERISA if a service provider fails to provide the required disclosures and the plan fiduciary fails to timely so notify the DOL. The DOL has posted a model notice for a plan fiduciary to use for this purpose.

    The July 1, 2012 effective date for these final regulations means that the deadline for a plan fiduciary making the related participant fee disclosures will be August 30, 2012.


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