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  • 17 Dec 2014 4:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    Congress’ passage of a bill to renew four tax provisions that stand to have a direct impact on restaurant operations was a welcome relief after a year of uncertainty.

    But unfortunately, the move only provides a temporary fix. While President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law soon, the tax provisions - commonly known as “tax extenders” - were renewed only for 2014 and will expire again when the year ends.

    “While we are relieved by the Senate’s action and Congress’ decision to retroactively renew these key tax extenders and appreciate the members of Congress who secured this outcome, a return to the uncertainty surrounding taxes that has persisted over the past year is unfortunately only weeks away," said Scott DeFife, National Restaurant Association executive vice president of policy and government affairs. "This uncertainty is causing restaurateurs across the country to postpone decisions that would help them expand their business and create jobs."

    Included in the bill were four of the NRA’s tax priorities:
    • 15-year depreciation schedule: This allows restaurant operators to depreciate the cost of certain renovations, improvements, and new construction over 15 years. Had the bill not passed, any projects launched in 2014 would have been depreciated over 39.5 years.
    • Work Opportunity Tax Credit: Businesses will be able to claim tax credits of $2,400 to $5,600 for hiring employees from demographic groups who historically have a hard time finding employment.
    • Enhanced charitable food donation: All restaurants can utilize this deduction to help offset some of the costs of storing and transporting food they’re donating to charity.
    • Section 179 expensing: Restaurants and other businesses can qualify for up to $500,000 in new deductions if they financed less than $2 million worth of new or used business equipment, software and qualified real property in 2014. Without the renewal, the deduction would have been capped at $25,000.
    Legislation to permanently extend of these four provisions is one of the NRA’s top advocacy priorities for 2015.

    Congress has historically renewed tax extenders with little fanfare, but dysfunction and gridlock over the past two years put renewal on the back burner until the final days of business for both houses of Congress.
  • 12 Dec 2014 9:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: TEAM Georgia

    As metro Atlanta prepares for the December Holiday Season, TEAM Georgia, which unites government, sports, civic and business leaders in the fight against impaired driving, has ensured that partygoers will have a safe ride home through Jan. 2.

    TEAM Georgia’s 2014 “Safe Holiday” Campaign has partnered with the Governor’s Office of Highway and the Georgia Restaurant Association to offer a free ride from Checker Cab or Budweiser/AAA “Tow to Go,” if they are unable to drive home safely. The campaign draws on support from the hospitality industry to promote responsible celebrations for the season.

    The Safe Holiday Campaign involves area bars and restaurants to display the Safe Holiday Guide, offer a free non-alcoholic drink to designated drivers, and inform patrons about free rides home. The campaign's 2014 Safe Holiday Guide will reach thousands of Georgia businesses and private hosts with safe celebration suggestions, plus safety and legal reminders for partygoers.

    TEAM Georgia reminds you to:
    • Designate a Driver
    • Pass the Keys to a sober friend
    • Call Checker Cab for a free ride home, 404-351-1111, or
    • Call Budweiser/AAA Tow to Go, 800-AAA-HELP, to take you and your vehicle home.
    “Keeping our community safe is truly a team effort, and this campaign brings together a caring and determined family of Atlanta’s businesses and the community to look out for each other this holiday season,” said Ron Fennel, chairman of TEAM Georgia. “

    One out of three traffic crash fatalities in Georgia is alcohol-related, and over the past decade, the highest number of crashes in Georgia occurred from October thru December. Also, the chance of an accident being fatal is six times higher in crashes involving an impaired driver.

    The TEAM Georgia Safe Holiday Campaign is presented in partnership with, Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, MADD-Georgia, News/Talk 750-WSB, AAA Auto Club South, Checker Cab, Budweiser, Concentric Restaurant Group and with the support of the Georgia Restaurant Association. TEAM Georgia is a safe and sober driving coalition comprised of concerned businesses, public safety officials and members of Atlanta's sporting teams.

    For more information on the Safe Holiday Campaign, contact TEAM Georgia at 404-590-4302 or visit www.teamgeorgia.net.
  • 11 Dec 2014 9:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: National Restaurant Association

    December 11, 2014

    Contact: Katie Laning Niebaum (202) 973-3967, Christin Fernandez (202) 331-5939

    (Washington, D.C.) Today, National Restaurant Association President and CEO Dawn Sweeney unveiled an open letter to policymakers signed by more than 600 women stakeholders hailing the value of restaurant jobs and careers.

    Restaurants, like no other industry, offer essential opportunities to women such as flexible hours, valuable skills and a career path without limitations. The letter, signed by women from around the country at all levels within the industry, and those who got their start in the industry, also tells the story of how women contribute to the economic recovery and growth of economies small and large.

    “When the 114th Congress convenes in January, it will include, at a minimum, a record 101 women in its ranks,” Sweeney said. “That’s good news, but even more impressive numbers can be found in the restaurant and foodservice industry, where the real-life success stories show there is no limit to personal dreams and hard work. Restaurant jobs provide opportunities for women of all backgrounds and experience levels, helping them gain the experience they need to jumpstart careers or the ability to advance toward management or executive positions more quickly than most other industries.”

    The restaurant industry encourages diversity and is a place where women advance to management and leadership roles in large numbers. In their letter to policymakers, individuals across the industry and beyond highlight the important ways restaurants are working for women. Letter highlights include the following:
    • 61% of women have worked in the restaurant industry.
    • 37% of women say the first job they ever held was in a restaurant, providing a first start and career advancement for millions of people.
    • 45% of restaurant managers are women compared to an average of 38% in other industries.
    • More than half of U.S. restaurants are owned or co-owned by women.
    • Women-owned businesses are growing at a faster rate than the overall restaurant industry.
    • 92% of women who have worked in a restaurant say the industry is a good place to get a first job and learn valuable skills.
    ###

    Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 990,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 13.5 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry's largest trade show (NRA Show May 16-19, 2015, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF's ProStart); as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids' menu options. For more information, visit Restaurant.org and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.
  • 03 Dec 2014 3:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    October 27, 2014

    The federal government has now published most of the regulations to explain how the Affordable Care Act affects employers. But the regulations are complex, and putting them into operation in a restaurant business will be challenging.

    The pressure is on: Starting Jan. 1, 2015, many employers could face potential penalties for failing to offer health plans to full-time employees. Hundreds of thousands of employers will have to start tracking new data in 2015 as they prepare to file ACA-required reports with the Internal Revenue Service and employees in early 2016.

    The National Restaurant Association, with other organizations representing millions of employers, continues to ramp up the heat on Congress to make changes in the law. But as the law continues to unfold in the meantime, here’s a look at some key questions for employers.

    Q: Which employers will face penalties under the ACA?

    The ACA’s employer mandate begins to take effect in 2015. The mandate subjects “applicable large employers” to possible penalties if they don’t offer health plans to full-time employees and their dependents. Penalties are phased in:
    • Penalties start in 2015 for employers with 100 or more full-time-equivalent employees who fail to offer health care coverage to “substantially all” full-time employees and their dependents. (“Substantially all” means the employer offers coverage to at least 70 percent of full-time employees in 2015. In 2016, this ramps up: Applicable large employers must make coverage offers to at least 95 percent of full-time employees to avoid possible penalties.)
    • Penalties start in 2016 for employers with 50 to 99 full-time-equivalent employees. The transition relief for these employers through 2015 applies as long as they meet certain conditions, including not cutting back employees’ hours or positions in 2015 to keep the business under the 100-FTE employee threshold.
    Employers with more than one business entity may need to consider all their employees as one group to determine if they meet the 100- or 50-FTE employee thresholds. Consult your tax adviser for details.

    To measure the size of their workforce, employers can use transition-relief provisions in the ACA regulations and look at any consecutive six-month period in 2014 to see if they meet the 100-FTE-employee threshold that triggers “applicable large employer” status for 2015. (Note: If your business intends to use the ACA’s “seasonal worker exception” to qualify for an exemption from large-employer status for 2015, you must look at employment over all 12 months of 2014.)

    Q: To whom must health care coverage be offered?

    To avoid penalties, applicable large employers must offer health care coverage to full-time employees and their dependents. The ACA defines full-time as a person with at least 130 hours of service in any given month, or averaging 30 hours of service a week.

    Treasury Department regulations go into extensive detail about how employers should measure whether new employees, seasonal employees and employees whose hours vary from month to month are considered full-time. Restaurant.org/Healthcare offers links to the regulations.

    (Note: For 2015, a large employer will generally not face penalties for failing to offer coverage to dependents of full-time employees if the employer can show he or she is taking steps toward providing such coverage.)

    Q: What reports will employers be required to file?

    The ACA sets massive new reporting requirements for all employers with 50 or more FTE employees. (Note: Employers with 50 to 99 FTE employees don’t have to offer coverage in 2015 but still must file the paperwork in early 2016, whether you offered coverage or not.)

    Employers will be required to file their first information returns with the IRS and statements with employees in early 2016, based on data tracked in 2015.

    Employers got a preview of the paperwork when the IRS released draft forms and instructions this summer. The forms aren’t likely to be finalized until later this year but covered employers should prepare now to begin tracking the information in January 2015. Employers who don’t could find that rebuilding the necessary data is costly and time-consuming.

    The reporting requirements are part of the new Sections 6056 and 6055 of the federal tax code.
    • Section 6056 requires businesses that employ 50 or more FTE employees to certify whether they offered minimum essential coverage to full-time employees. The reports must be submitted individually by any entity within a “common control” group that has 50 or more FTE employees – even if an entity on its own employs fewer than 50 FTEs. Here’s just a small sampling of the data employers will be required to compile each calendar month, and report by employee tax ID number: number of employees; number of full-time employees; whether an employee is eligible for a health-care coverage offer under the ACA; the employee’ premium contribution; and how the employer determined whether the health care coverage meets the ACA’s affordability standards.
    • Section 6055 requirements apply to any entity that offers a health plan, such as self-insured employers and health insurers. These reports will tell the IRS who was enrolled in coverage and for what months. To complete this filing, tax ID numbers must be collected for the dependents of full-time employees.
    Q: What are the penalties for employers?

    Large businesses will face two types of penalties starting in 2015 under the ACA’s employer mandate.
    • Penalty A -- for failing to offer coverage. Penalty A applies when a large employer fails to offer minimum essential coverage to “substantially all” of its full-time employees. Penalty A can run up to $2,000 per year per full-time employee, minus the first 30 full-time employees. (For 2015, the penalty for applicable large employers with 100 or more FTEs is $2,000 per year per full-time employee, minus the first 80 full-time employees.) The penalty kicks in if any full-time employee gets a federal tax subsidy to buy a health plan through a government-run health insurance marketplace.
    • Penalty B -- for offering coverage that’s unaffordable or not of minimum value. Penalty B applies when the minimum essential coverage a large employer offers is not affordable (based on employee’s household income, and on the cost of single-only coverage), or if it fails to meet the ACA’s minimum-value standard (generally recognized as 60 percent actuarial value). Penalty B is $3,000 a year for any full-time employee who receives a federal tax subsidy to buy a health plan through a federal or state exchange because their employer’s plan is not affordable or of minimum value.
    The National Restaurant Association offers its members information, resources and tools at the NRA Health Care HQ.
  • 03 Dec 2014 11:04 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association 

    Local sourcing, environmental sustainability and healthful kids' meals keep gaining steam as the top trends on restaurant menus in 2015, according to the National Restaurant Association's annual What’s Hot culinary forecast.

    The NRA surveyed nearly 1,300 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – to find which foods, cuisines, beverages and culinary themes will be hot trends on restaurant menus in 2015.

    “As consumers today increasingly incorporate restaurants into their daily lives, they want to be able to follow their personal preferences and philosophies no matter where or how they choose to dine,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research for the National Restaurant Association. “So, it’s only natural that culinary themes like local sourcing, sustainability and nutrition top our list of menu trends for 2015. Those concepts are wider lifestyle choices for many Americans in other aspects of their lives that also translate into the food space.”

    “Chefs are committed to supporting their communities and helping make responsible food choices,” said Thomas Macrina, CEC, CCA, AAC, national president of the American Culinary Federation. “I am pleased that members of the American Culinary Federation continue to support local sourcing and sustainable food practices as an annual trend and are paving the way for these values to become part of everyday American cooking.”

    In addition, the What’s Hot in 2015 survey found that the top five alcohol and cocktail trends will be micro-distilled/artisan spirits, locally produced beer/wine/spirits, onsite barrel-aged drinks, regional signature cocktails, and culinary cocktails.

    Items that gained most in trendiness since last year in the annual survey included underutilized fish, doughnuts, ethnic condiments, grass-fed beef, brown/wild rice, and grilled vegetables. Items with the largest drop in “hot trend” rating included bruschetta, kale salads, nose-to-tail cooking, hybrid dessertss, and house-made soft drinks.

    When asked which current food trend will be the hottest menu trends 10 years from now, environmental sustainability topped the list, followed by local sourcing, nutrition and ethnic cuisines and flavors.

    The chefs were also asked how they feel about customers taking photos of their food and posting on social media during their meals. Nearly three in five chefs said it's free advertising and should be encouraged, and about a third said it's fine as long as they're discrete. Only one in 10 chefs said it's disruptive and should be discouraged.

    Get the full results at Restaurant.org/FoodTrends.
  • 01 Dec 2014 11:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The following letter was issued from Precision Laboratories, Inc. to the Environmental Health Section - Georgia Department of Public Health on November 2, 2014:

    Visual test strips are semi-quantitative in nature and some variation between users and different color perceptions are to be expected. Unless otherwise specified, color charts are generally accurate to +/- ½ a color unit. Due to the semi-quantitative nature of the Chlorine 0-200ppm test strips, the colors on the chart are intended to indicate only the approximate strength of the solution in ppm of available chlorine.

    Earlier this year we became aware that the color blocks on the 0-200 ppm Chlorine test strip were not matching reacted strips to within +/- ½ color unit when tested using chlorine standards. At first we suspected that a change in the raw material paper lot was the reason for the color difference. After further testing, it was determined that the current batch of color charts and not the strips were the issue. The color blocks on the chart were too light.

    Rather than continue to use the existing chart, the decision was made to rematch the colors and reprint the color charts. To do this, we prepared a series of fresh standards that were verified using two different analytical methods, a colorimetric instrument method and a titration method. We conducted this process over several days with multiple sets of standards and evaluators. The color charts were reprinted. Upon their receipt, they were once again checked using a fresh series of verified standards.

    Over the last six months we have repeated this testing multiple times and confirmed that the revised color chart is a better match. In addition, we have had several outside testers confirm our findings. Lastly, we have compared results using the revised chart to comparable competitor products (strips and test kits) and found a good correlation.

    We understand that some end users have raised questions about the revision. Some have had to revise their chlorine dispensing procedures or modify items such as wall posters. Users who make up their sanitizing solutions based on the color chart may find that they need to increase the amount of chlorine added to achieve the desired level of available chlorine, although we have heard from several end users that they routinely add some extra chlorine for added protection. In these cases users may not have to increase their chlorine usage to achieve the desired level. Users who make up their solutions based on the bleach supplier’s recommendations (so many mLs per gallon, for example) would achieve the desired ppm level; however, using the old chart to check the level would indicate that the ppm available chlorine was somewhat higher. These types of users should not have to change their process. Results with the revised chart should more closely confirm the bleach supplier’s target ppm level.

    View the Chlorine Color Chart Comparisons.

  • 01 Dec 2014 11:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Atlanta, GA (December 1, 2014) – The Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) has announced the 2015 Chairman of the Board for the association, Ryan Turner, current vice-chair for the GRA and co-founder and CEO of Unsukay Community of Businesses, the parent company for Muss & Turner’s, Eleanor’s, Local Three and Common Quarter in Metro-Atlanta.

    Since college, Turner has worked in every role in a restaurant from dishwasher to bartender. Turner served as the food and beverage manager at East Lake Golf Club prior to opening Muss & Turner's in February of 2005. He and his partners opened Local Three in late 2010, Eleanor’s in 2012 and Common Quarter in 2013.

    In 2011, Turner and his partners received the GRA’s Restaurateur of the Year award at the 5th annual GRACE Awards. In 2013, they received the GRA's Restaurant Neighbor Award for their involvement in founding and launching The Giving Kitchen. Turner currently serves as Board Chairman of The Giving Kitchen, a 501c3 serving those in the restaurant community facing hardship and crisis. Additionally, Turner was named the 2014 Business Person of the Year by the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Atlanta Business Chronicle in the Experienced Entrepreneur category.

    As Chairman of the Board, Turner will serve as the Chief Spokesperson for the industry as well as for the association and will lead the GRA Board of Directors. The Chairman of the Board also partakes in several GRA functions throughout the year including the Taste of Georgia Legislative Reception in February, the GRA Golf Tournament in June, the Chairman’s Reception and the GRACE Awards gala in November.

    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 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.

    For media inquiries, please contact Rachel Bell, manager of marketing and communications, at (404) 467-9000 or rachel@garestaurants.org.
    # # #
  • 25 Nov 2014 11:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

    Constituent Update

    November 25, 2014

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finalized two rules requiring that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments and vending machines to help consumers make informed decisions about meals and snacks.

    The menu labeling final rule applies to restaurants and similar retail food establishments if they are part of a chain of 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name, and offering for sale substantially the same menu items. A restaurant or similar retail food establishment is generally defined as a retail establishment that offers for sale restaurant-type food, which is generally defined as food that is usually eaten on the premises of the establishment, while walking away, or soon after arriving at another location. Examples of restaurants and similar retail food establishments include sit-down and fast-food restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops and grocery and convenience stores. The menu labeling final rule also requires calorie labeling for certain alcoholic beverages and certain foods sold at entertainment venues such as movie theaters and amusement parks. The FDA also clarifies in the menu labeling final rule that certain foods purchased in grocery stores or other retail food establishments that are typically intended for more than one person to eat and require additional preparation before consuming, such as pounds of deli meats and cheeses and large-size deli salads, are not covered.

    To help consumers understand the significance of the calorie information in the context of a total daily diet, the FDA is requiring a succinct statement that says, “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary” to be included on menus and menu boards. The menu labeling final rule also requires covered establishments to provide, upon consumer request, written nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein.

    Restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are covered, including those that voluntarily register with FDA to comply with the menu labeling requirements, will have one year from the date of publication of the menu labeling final rule to comply with the requirements.

    The vending machine final rule requires operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines to disclose calorie information for food sold from vending machines, subject to certain exceptions. Vending machine operators that are covered, including those that voluntarily register with FDA to comply with the vending machine labeling requirements, will have two years from the date of publication of the vending machine labeling final rule to comply with the requirements.

    For more information:
  • 25 Nov 2014 10:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association 

    The Food and Drug Administration has released its long-awaited final regulations on menu labeling for restaurants.

    The menu-labeling regulations, which were passed as part of the 2010 health care law, require chain restaurants with 20 or more locations under the same brand to include calorie counts on menus, menu boards and drive-thru displays and provide other nutritional information to customers. The regulations are voluntary for restaurants that have fewer than 20 locations.

    The National Restaurant Association supported the menu-labeling regulations as a way to avoid a patchwork of differing state and local requirements.

    Read the NRA’s full statement on the FDA’s final menu-labeling regulations.
  • 24 Nov 2014 10:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    Contact: Rachel Salabes (202) 331-5997

    (Chicago) Today the National Restaurant Association (NRA) released the ServSafe Facebook app, Serving It Up with ServSafe, as part of its campaign to promote responsible alcohol service during the holidays. The campaign provides tools and tips that will help promote alcohol responsibility among restaurateurs and restaurant employees.

    “The holiday season is a time to dine out with family and friends,” said Phil Kafarakis, Chief Innovation Officer for the National Restaurant Association. “As restaurants spread the holiday cheer, it’s important for owners, operators and staff to promote alcohol responsibility to keep their patrons safe. Our ServSafe Facebook app is an interactive way for the restaurant community to learn tips to maintain responsible alcohol service. Through the app, we’re serving up holiday spirit for those serving holiday spirits.”

    The ServSafe Facebook app features seasonally themed games to reinforce key concepts of responsible alcohol service as illustrated by ServSafe Alcohol. The first interactive Thanksgiving-themed game focuses on alcohol in the body, and drink sizes as they relate to alcohol by volume.

    In addition to the app, NRA has partnered with Anheuser-Busch to produce a “Responsible Serving Tips” video, which can be viewed here.

    NRA is also serving up savings for restaurant owners and operators this holiday season. Interested parties can save 30 percent off ServSafe Alcohol and Food Handler products with coupon code CelebrateServSafe.

    To play Serving it Up with ServSafe, please visit https://www.facebook.com/NationalRestaurantAssociationServSafe/app_1560975824114815.

    ###

    Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 990,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of more than 13.5 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry's largest trade show (NRA Show May 16-19, 2015, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF's ProStart); as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids' menu options. For more information, visit Restaurant.org and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.
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