What’s New At FRLA: 12/17/21

This week at the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association

Holiday Chapter Events

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! FRLA has wrapped up this year with holiday events across the state.

FRLA Florida Inns Chapter enjoyed this year’s Jingle & Mingle in Pinellas County!

More Information Coming Soon! FRLA App Coming Soon!

FRLA will soon be launching a mobile app to keep you all engaged and up-to-date while on the go. Stay tuned for more details coming soon!

Check out the latest issue of the FR&L magazine!

Read Now

FRLA Please Be Kind Campaign

FRLA has launched a “Please Be Kind Campaign” to remind guests of the impacts COVID has had on our workforce and encouraging patience and kindness. We know how hard you and your staff are working amid the most challenging circumstances our industry has ever seen. Below is a sample of our “Please Be Kind” messaging, which you can download and use to print and post on your establishment, share on social, and more. The toolkit is available on the FRLA Home Page and at the link below.

Access The Please Be Kind Toolkit

Please take a few minutes to take a quick survey about educational webinars offered by the Florida Natural Gas Association (FNGA).
You’ll be entered to win a $500 gift card!

Business Services Update

This week the world learned of a wide-spread ransomware attack taking advantage of a vulnerability in Log4J, a popular open-source library, which is disrupting business services across the world, including Kronos.
If you use Kronos Time and Attendance and need an alternative due to the outage, Withum is here to help. Their Digital Transformation team developed a stop-gap time-keeping solution using Microsoft Teams. With this solution, employees can continue to track and capture time that can then be loaded into your HR/Payroll system and/or Kronos, once it is back online.

The solution can be customized and rolled out within a couple of days and will allow you to continue tracking time while Kronos is down.

Tourism Day

Florida State Augustus B. Turnbull Conference Center
555 West Pensacola Street, Tallahassee, FL 32306

Due to capacity restrictions, registration for Tourism Day is limited this year. Please speak with your Regional Director for further details. CLICK HERE for more information.

90-Second Update: Uncle Sam, Where’s My ERTC?

In our latest “90 Second Update,” we give an update on the status of the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC).  As many of you know well, the ERTC – redesigned with input from the National Restaurant Association – has the potential to be a critical recovery tool for tens of thousands of restaurants.  But as we move closer to the end of the year, too many restaurants have yet to see their refund checks from the IRS.


Earlier this month, we wrote the Treasury Department and the IRS with a series of asks to get the ERTC process moving and to protect vulnerable restaurants who will soon be due for January tax payments.


We are meeting with Treasury officials soon and would like to walk in with a petition that demonstrates how important this issue is to our industry.  If you have 30 seconds, please review the petition and add your name.  If you have more time, we would welcome your story on why the ERTC matters to your restaurant.  Simply respond to this email – we’ll remove identifying information and share your perspectives with top government leaders.


Replenishing the Restaurant Revitalization Fund remains another top priority – our update gives the latest. If you haven’t contacted your elected official here in Washington, now’s the time to do so.

Sign the ERTC Petition

Tell Congress to Replenish the RRF

Congressional Update With Sean Kennedy




Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show Postponed

Recently, the difficult decision has been made to postpone the events involved in the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show (scheduled for September 19-20, 2021) to September 2022.

The safety of you, your colleagues and your loved ones takes precedent at this time. This decision is one that is not taken lightly. Our home is Florida. We recognize the importance of this industry to my home state and see first-hand both the obstacles faced and the strength and perseverance of so many. You are an inspiration to all of us here. We do not take our role in supporting you lightly. While disappointed, I know this is the right thing do to.

John Lederer and Brian Bernstein with Clarion Events will connect with you directly. As you discuss your event plans with them, your Application & License Agreement for Event Participation (“Booth Contract”) authorizes Clarion to cancel and reschedule the event as the direct consequences and health risks of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are beyond the control of Clarion and make it unreasonable and impractical for you to occupy the space or otherwise hold the event as scheduled.

For those who have sent in your Booth Contracts and any payments made toward those contracts, John and Brian will be in contact with you to confirm:

• Your booth location has remained in a similar position for the September 2022 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show;
• We have rolled your deposit and payment over to the September 2022 event;
• John and Brian will reach out to you for approval to a date change amendment to your Booth Contract.

Thank you for your continued support. Continue to stay healthy, safe and strong. We look forward to seeing you in person at our 2022 event(s).

Yelp Helps Businesses Communicate Vaccination Requirements

•  Consumers can now stay updated on businesses’ health and safety precautions

•  Yelp will proactively safeguard businesses that add the new attributes

With the uncertainty surrounding the spread of the COVID Delta variant, we’re seeing an increasing number of businesses implement new safety measures to protect their employees and communities. To help consumers understand how a business is currently operating as pandemic guidelines continue to evolve, today, Yelp is announcing two new, free attributes – “Proof of vaccination required” and “All staff fully vaccinated.” Users will be able to filter by these attributes when searching for local businesses on Yelp and will easily see “Proof of vaccination required” indicated on restaurant, food and nightlife businesses in search results.

To help protect businesses that may experience backlash for their vaccination policies, we are proactively monitoring Yelp pages of businesses that activate these attributes. This is one of the significant measures Yelp takes to maintain the integrity and quality of the content on our platform.

Yelp’s Content Guidelines require that all reviews be based on a first-hand consumer experience. However, in recent weeks, we’ve seen a rise in reviews focused on people’s stance on COVID vaccinations rather than their actual experience with the business. When a business gains public attention, people often come to Yelp to express their views on the matter. Mitigating against these “review bombing” events has become a significant issue for online review platforms, which is why Yelp has heavily invested to address this phenomenon for years through our Consumer Alerts program.

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve placed Unusual Activity Alerts on a Yelp page when we uncover an influx of activity in response to a business gaining public attention for their stance on COVID health and safety practices — including requiring vaccinations for employees and/or customers. In fact, since January 2021, we’ve placed more than 100 Unusual Activity Alerts on Yelp pages related to these incidents, which has resulted in the removal of nearly 4,500 reviews for violating our content policies.

Protecting Businesses from “Review Bombing”

For businesses that activate “Proof of vaccination required” and “All staff fully vaccinated” on their Yelp page, we are putting protective measures in place to proactively safeguard them from reviews that primarily criticize the COVID health and safety measures they enforce. We put a similar system in place when we launched our Black-owned attribute in June 2020, and followed the same process for our other identity attributes, such as Latinx-ownedAsian-owned, and LGBTQ-owned. By proactively monitoring business pages that activated these identity attributes for any hateful, racist or other harmful content that violates our Content Guidelines, we thwarted and removed nearly 400 reviews for containing harmful content.

Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen incidents of “review bombing” increase around the health and safety precautions businesses implement. Reviews from customers that criticize a business’s vaccination requirements violate our special COVID Content Guidelines, which were introduced in March 2020 to protect businesses from reputational harm related to the pandemic. In 2021, we’ve removed nearly 8,000 reviews for violating these guidelines. Both consumers and businesses can report reviews that “represent an extraordinary circumstance (e.g. COVID-19, media-fueled)” by following these steps. A member of our User Operations team investigates each flagged review and, if it’s found to be in violation of our policies, removes it from our platform.

At Yelp, we have signals in place that alert our moderators if there is an unusual spike in traffic on a business’s Yelp page. If warranted, our team of moderators will investigate and may temporarily disable the ability to post as we place an alert over the business’s reviews. After activity on the business page has dramatically decreased or stopped, we will clean up the page so only first-hand consumer experiences are reflected.

For businesses that currently have an Unusual Activity Alert on their Yelp page, they can expect the alert to be removed once unusual activity on the business page has decreased or stopped. This can take from a few days to several weeks — the actual duration is determined once traffic on the business page has decreased.

Communicating Vaccine Requirements on Yelp

Only businesses can add the “Proof of vaccination required” and “All staff fully vaccinated” attributes to their Yelp page.

To add the attribute, log into your Yelp for Business account and follow these steps:

  • Go to the Business Information section
  • Click Add (or Edit if you have existing content here) next to “Amenities and more”
  • Click Yes next to the attribute you’d like to turn on
  • Click Save Changes

Additionally, as pandemic guidelines have evolved since we first introduced our COVID-19 section, we’re refreshing the way that content is displayed on business pages to better provide the most up-to-date and useful information to consumers. Businesses that currently require masks from customers and staff can activate “Masks required” and “Staff wears masks” attributes through their Yelp for Business account.

At Yelp, we are committed to providing consumers with reliable and useful information to help them decide where to spend their money, and at the same time, we aim to level the playing field for all businesses. That’s why we’ve long invested in mitigating misinformation on our platform, to give consumers access to trusted content while helping businesses focus on what they do best: provide a great customer experience.

From Classroom to Computer – the Rise of E-learning in a Pandemic World

by Graham Cohen

2020 sure has presented us with some challenges.  The Coronavirus has affected our lives in so many different ways.  Businesses have been forced to close their doors, and many are finding it hard to return.  No industry has been more hard-hit than the hospitality industry.  We have been forced to change the way we do business, specifically in how we train our staff.  Training staff on new procedures, products or policy is becoming more challenging as we work with reduced staff and practice social distancing guidelines.  Many companies are turning to distance learning or e-learning as a way to keep the staffed trained and up-to-date with the latest information.

Research has shown that on average, students retain 25-30% more material when learning online compared to only 8-10% in a classroom.  And the training material is always available through mobile devices.  Now more than ever, I am being contacted to convert instructor-lead classroom training into engaging online e-learning courses.  There are many good training partners with great online training to offer such as; the Food Handler and Alcohol Awareness classes on FRLA’s website, and others.

In the past, e-learning was cost prohibitive and mostly used by large corporations due to the high cost of development, housing and tracking.  However, learning management systems (LMS’s) are becoming more cost-effective and affordable for small business owners. Systems such as Cornerstone and Schoox offer LMS solutions for every budget.

There are many advantages of e-learning including; cost effectiveness, flexibility, better participation and individual retention and having constant training throughout your organization.

E-learning is available in many different forms: from a simple PDF document to an elaborate and dynamic HTML5 SCORM program and everything in between.  If you are looking at getting into the world of e-learning, there are a number of criteria you’ll want to meet.

First, the role of the instructor is key as the instructor is necessary in providing feedback to students. Second, you will need a well-organized LMS that should be easily navigable to both students and instructors.  And finally, your content must be formatted in a way that is easily accessible to students.

As we find ourselves operating in a fast-paced, technology-oriented world, we must adopt new technology and new ways to integrate it in support of education. E-learning is leading the way and redefining how we learn on the job.

For more information, or if you have any questions regarding e-learning, feel free to drop me a line at artepmedia@att.net.

Graham Cohen has built several of FRLA’s online training programs including the food handler and the human trafficking programs.

FRLA Members Recognized in Best of Tallahassee 2020

Recently, several FRLA members were recognized in Tallahassee Magazine’s “Best of Tallahassee” list based on reader’s polls. Congratulations to the winners and honorable mentions!

FRLA members have been recognized as below:

  • Appetizer: Madison Social, Honorable Mention
  • Asian: Masa, Winner
  • Asian: Azu Lucy Ho’s Restaurant, Honorable Mention
  • Bakery: Tasty Pastry Bakery, Winner
  • Bar: Madison Social, Honorable Mention
  • Barbecue: Willie Jewell’s Old School Bar-B-Q, Winner
  • Brunch: Table 23, Honorable Mention
  • Cajun: Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille, Honorable Mention
  • Casual Dining: Island Wing Company, Honorable Mention
  • Celebration/Special Occasion: Savour, Honorable Mention
  • Fine Dining: Savour, Honorable Mention
  • Hamburger: Vertigo Burger & Fries, Honorable Mention
  • Happy Hour: The Blue Halo, Winner
  • Happy Hour: Andrew’s Capital Grill & Bar, Honorable Mention
  • Italian: Bella Bella, Winner
  • Smoothie: Tropical Smoothie Café, Winner
  • Martini/Cocktail: The Blue Halo, Winner
  • Outdoor Dining: Table 23, Winner
  • Outdoor Dining: Island Wing Company, Honorable Mention
  • Seafood: Wharf Causal Seafood, Winner
  • Southern Cuisine/Food: Table 23, Winner
  • Sports Bar: Island Wing Company, Winner
  • Steakhouse: Outback Steakhouse, Honorable Mention
  • Sushi: Masa, Honorable Mention
  • Wings: Island Wing Company, Winner
  • Wings: Hobbit American Grill, Honorable Mention
  • Banquet Facility: University Center Club, Winner
  • Insurance Agency: Demont Insurance Agency, Honorable Mention
  • Places to Take the Kids: Tallahassee Museum, Winner
  • Places to Take the Kids: Hangar 38, Honorable Mention

Find the whole list here.

Help guests feel safe: tips for cleaning POS equipment

Restaurateurs, guests may be able to safely eat away from home after months of staying in, but they’ll need to feel safe to make it a regular practice. While your restaurants operate according to state and local COVID-19 guidelines, everyone plays a role in maintaining public safety – including you, your employees and your guests. While social distancing is one task assigned to us all, regularly cleaning and disinfecting point-of-sale (POS) equipment and using handheld POS devices are some of the most effective, and prominent, contributions you can make.

Create a safe environment for guests and employees.

It’s not enough for your restaurant to be clean- disinfect in front of your guests throughout the day so they can relax with friends and family, knowing they’ve made the right decision to enjoy a meal at your establishment. Similarly, leave pump bottles or contactless dispensers of hand sanitizer at every stationary POS station. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using hand sanitizer containing 60-95% alcohol for effective germ-killing power after touching surfaces and between handwashing trips.

Use handheld POS devices to elevate safety measures.

Uphold COVID-19 safety standards with handheld POS devices. They allow you to eliminate queues while maintaining safe distances between parties of guests and employees. Handheld POS devices also allow you to complete transactions tableside or in socially-distant locations.

Guests are overwhelmingly using credit and debit cards in lieu of cash to improve hygiene and reduce contact. The National Restaurant Association recommends the use of contactless payments during the pandemic.

Clean and disinfect POS equipment with care.

Power down and unplug POS devices prior to cleaning or disinfecting. If you’re only cleaning the touchpads or touchscreens, you may be able to keep your device on; read your user’s manual for confirmation. Next, wash your hands or clean them thoroughly with hand sanitizer, waiting for them to dry completely before touching the equipment.

Never use soap or other cleaners on POS equipment. However, do use a microfiber cloth or soft towel with water. Make the cloth slightly damp and carefully clean all surfaces, taking care not to shake or drop the device which could trigger your tampering sensors.

While cleaning removes visible marks, disinfecting kills germs. Put a small amount of alcohol-based cleaner (min. 60% alcohol) onto a microfiber cloth or soft towel or use alcohol-based wipes. Never apply liquids directly to your equipment. Never squeeze a cloth or wipe on or over your POS devices- it could cause liquid damage. Some cleaners have the power to destroy plastic and rubber components; avoid accidental contact- never use ketone-based solvents, bleach, thinner or trichloroethylene. Reference your user’s manual for a list of approved cleaners for your POS devices.

Clean and disinfect your equipment throughout the day- POS equipment – stationary or handheld – are among the most prominent high-touch surfaces in your restaurant. Aim for visible cleanliness to put guests at ease, as well as thoroughly-disinfected surfaces to stop the virus’ spread.

Payments Without Pesky Limits

Minimalism, a movement to rid life of excess in favor of what’s important, is growing in popularity. It’s only natural the trend would extend to business. And it turns out there’s freedom in simplicity. Now, all you need to run your business is:

  1. Your phone
  2. Heartland Mobile Pay
  3. Your next destination

Don’t be fooled; this lightweight card reader is a heavy hitter when it comes to features. Whether your customers tap, dip or swipe, Mobile Pay does it all — and gets you access to your money within 24 hours. The only limitation is the bounds of your entrepreneurial spirit.

The ideal customer experience, anywhere

Ruggedly designed to work in any environment, Mobile Pay is ready to collect payments wherever business takes you. Process transactions at lightning speed or generate invoices for later payment. Customers get the efficient experience they expect, and you get the security of EMV electronic chip card technology authenticating each card as genuine.

Never miss a sale

Go boldly back to business after downloading the Mobile Pay app and connecting the Heartland card reader to your phone or tablet. With Mobile Pay’s reliability, worrying about technical glitches and lost sales are a thing of the past. Rest even easier knowing Mobile Pay encrypts card data as soon as it enters the card reader, and card data is never stored on your mobile device.

Customer trends revealed

Data helps you run a better business. Mobile Pay provides a companion merchant web portal, accessible 24/365 from any internet-enabled device. Simply view real-time sales, transaction details and inventory. Export reports to share with partners when you need to re-stock or reevaluate.

Get all the functionality of a traditional payment terminal with the counterspace of a phone. Mobile Pay is the flexible solution for your evolving business.