Our March Member of the Month is a Gem

The statement “home is where the heart is” was taken quite literally by our March Member of the Month, Barb Bowden, with Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and Loews Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando, Florida. After completing a summer internship with Disney, she knew in her heart Orlando was where she was meant to be.

Barb is a take-charge woman and an exemplary member of FRLA. She has been involved on the FRLA Central Florida Chapter Board, served on panels for our Marketing + Operations Summit and more.

Barb has a passion for the hospitality industry, and with that drums her passion for mentoring students and young adults entering the industry. Because of this, FRLA has helped further her enthusiasm by providing her with the opportunity to do just that. She states one of her favorite hospitality memories is seeing the “amazing people” she’s mentored over the years grow and take on senior-level positions in the hospitality industry.

Thank you, Barb, for being an outstanding FRLA member, and a wonderful mentor to those looking to enter the hospitality industry. If you didn’t have the chance to see her Member of the Month video, check it out below.

Know someone you think should be our FRLA Member of the Month? Nominate them here.

A Tourism Day for the Books

We had a very successful Florida Tourism Day. For FRLA members, we began the festivities on Tuesday night, celebrating our Hometown Heroes at a reception hosted by FRLA and AAHOA. These Hometown Heroes were recognized for their extraordinary efforts during the Hurricane Michael response.

 

On Wednesday, close to 600 tourism industry professionals gathered at the Civic Center to hear from Tourism industry leaders, including Executive Director of VISIT FLORIDA Dana Young, and policy makers such as Senator Joe Gruters and Rep. Mel Ponder. Rep. Mel Ponder gave a particularly rousing speech on the importance of tourism and its ability to positively impact people. Watch this impactful speech here.

Then it was on to the Capitol, where our tourism industry professionals met with legislators to discuss the issues impacting our industry, such as renewing the statutory authorization and funding for VISIT FLORIDA. Following Capitol visits, it was time for a street party on Adams Street. Delicious food, good music, and great displays by Florida attractions and museums made for a wonderful celebration.

Industry professionals turned out to demonstrate the impact and importance of Florida’s tourism industry. Not only was important work done during this very busy day, but a good time was had by all.

For more information about Florida Tourism Day and the importance of tourism on our industry, visit tourismworksforflorida.org.

Be Smart with SafeStaff

Florida’s Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) requires that food service employees be trained on safe food handling techniques and hygiene practices.
Aside from this being mandated by state law, restauranteurs and hoteliers with food service that actively manage food safety can reduce their risk exposure.
To stay in compliance, use DBPR’s contracted provider for foodhandler training – FRLA’s SafeStaff.

What is SafeStaff?

SafeStaff is FRLA’s proprietary Foodhandler Training program and has been DBPR’s only contracted provider for nearly 20 years. During that period, Florida foodborne illness outbreaks have dramatically decreased. The SafeStaff Foodhandler Guide contains everything needed to create a safe food service environment – from instructions, to food safety best practices, to quizzes and assessments.

Why SafeStaff Over Other Training Products?

FRLA’s SafeStaff program provides the industry a unique benefit no other provider can claim.
Unlike for-profit sources, the purchase of SafeStaff benefits the purchaser in the long run as the proceeds from SafeStaff sales help fund the FRLA mission and advocacy efforts to protect, educate, and promote the hospitality industry.

What does this mean for you?

SafeStaff is convenient and cost competitive. But most importantly, when you buy SafeStaff you are investing in protecting your business and the jobs you create from harmful taxes, laws, and regulation. The FRLA Government Relations team advocates for you at the local, state and national levels, tirelessly fighting for business-friendly public policies.
Learn more about our Government Relations team, view our current legislative priorities, and more by visiting our site here.

Interested in SafeStaff or other FRLA related training and certification programs available to you?

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Serving Up Our February Member of the Month

We are excited to introduce Dennis Chan, owner of the delicious Blue Bamboo restaurant in Jacksonville. Dennis comes from a long line of chefs, and knew it was his legacy to continue serving food and carry on his family’s traditions.

One of his favorite things about working in the restaurant business and hospitality industry is the ability to use his food and excellent service to brighten someone’s day.

“You never know if you’re going to have a guest come in who is having a bad day and you need to turn them around, or they’re just having a great day and coming out to celebrate.”

Dennis is a long-standing, second-generation member of FRLA and is committed to helping aspiring restaurateurs. He teaches culinary classes at local schools and volunteers with ProStart on a regular basis. Thank you, Dennis, for your continuous support of FRLA and all you do for your community.

Next time you stop by Blue Bamboo, we suggest you try the Sunshine State Orange Crunch Cake Cake!

Check out Dennis’ Member of the Month video below:

Know someone you think should be our FRLA Member of the Month? Nominate them here.

There’s Room for Everyone Under the MO+S Umbrella

We’ve attended the FRLA Marketing + Operations Summit since its inception. In fact, we’ve found this event to be so valuable and important that we’ve been a sponsor for the past three years.

M+OS is more than an opportunity to hear about the latest and greatest trends in the hospitality industry with regard to marketing and operations issues. The Summit helps us stay current with the challenges our customers face and gives us specific topics to discuss with them throughout the year.

We’ve learned countless tips and tricks in our years of attending the Summit, but I will never forget participating in a Breakout Session focusing on how to market to various generations when we had a lightbulb moment. Each year, we gain real-life lessons, and this one convinced us to hire a social media staffer. Thanks to this realization, we’ve seen a significant uptick in our online interactions with existing and, most excitingly, new customers. Incorporating such a simple tactic into our marketing strategy allowed us to reach more people.

The Summit provides us with an opportunity to network with members who could one day be potential customers. Through our networking over the years, we’ve found it crucial to learn what customers are trying to accomplish so we can work with them to support their efforts. For example, we can assist in combining a restaurant’s marketing and operational goals by offering custom logos imprinted on their umbrella canopies. Operationally, their guests receive the comfort of shade and may stay at the table longer, ordering coffee and dessert, thereby increasing the bottom line.

It’s been our experience that the Summit is a great place to learn from industry veterans, find out what innovative, best practices are out there, and how different successful brands have overcome challenges. The quality of the speakers is fantastic – from famous chefs like Robert Irvine, to entrepreneurs and restaurant executives from Firehouse Subs and Tijuana Flats. Both the networking opportunities and the chance to meet with decision makers across the industry are terrific. We are looking forward to what this year has in store!


This week’s blog comes from Jordan Beckner, President of Sales at FiberBuilt Umbrellas & Cushions.

Have Your Say on Tourism Day

On March 13th, movers and shakers of the tourism industry are heading to Tallahassee from all over Florida for Tourism Day.

Why it’s important

This yearly event allows industry professionals to let lawmakers know the importance of tourism in our state and in their businesses. Tourism day is dedicated to bringing those in the tourism industry and government officials together. This event is organized by Visit Florida and FRLA, and allows attendees to meet face-to-face with their legislative representative and voice their opinions and concerns.

What to expect

At Tourism Day, attendees can expect to receive lots of information from policy makers and state leaders. This day allows for direct interaction with legislators in a fruitful environment. Outside of connecting with legislators, attendees can network with industry professionals from across the state to share ideas, industry issues, and more with one another. This is an exciting and fun day for those in the tourism and hospitality industry.

Added benefits

This event displays the enormous scope and breadth of the industry. It is alive and well in all corners of the state, from the smallest restauarant to the largest hotel. It can feel as though people often take this industry for granted and discount its importance. We employ millions of people, and we are responsible for billions in sales. This event brings all aspects of the industry together, and there is power in that.

Ready to have your say on Tourism Day? Register here.

 

Be Flexible: An Alternative to Plastic Straw Bans

Straws don’t suck… but littering does. Issues regarding improperly discarded plastic straws have many concerned about the potential impact on Florida’s waterways and environment. Florida’s incredible rivers, streams, beaches, flora, and fauna are some of the state’s greatest assets for residents and visitors alike, so it makes sense for those in the hospitality industry to be committed to ensuring our environment stays healthy. Many have chosen to be proactive in their local communities by participating in voluntary straw bans or request-only campaigns where the business doesn’t give a straw unless it’s requested by the customer.

 

The Challenge for Hospitality Businesses

Several local government entities across the state have chosen to adopt regulations, restrictions, and bans on plastic straws. As is often the case with local regulations, they have similar provisions, but few are exactly alike. This leaves businesses that operate in multiple locations to keep up with the intricacies of each regulation. The differences can be both confusing and burdensome for businesses to accommodate.

Every business should be free to serve its customers in the lawful manner in which it sees fit. Some companies decide that providing disposable items such as straws does not fit with their culture and identity. Others may take a different approach, and there is space for both in Florida.

Plastic straws are not, in and of themselves, evil. In fact, they serve very real and positive purposes. Straws provide necessary assistance to individuals with disabilities who may need them in order to consume their chosen beverage. Parents may choose straws to prevent in-car messes when feeding children on the go.

 

Be Flexible: An Alternative to Banning All Straws

So how do we strike a balance on straws? First, we must acknowledge that we each have a job as individuals to ensure the disposable items we use make it into the proper waste or recycling containers. No one believes a straw belongs on the ground or in the water, and proper disposal will help keep these items where they belong.

Second, an outright ban might not always be the answer for every customer. The hospitality industry, dedicated to the service of customers and guests, can use a two-pronged approach to meet the needs of all.

First, adopt a policy of request-only. Have plastic straws available but provide them only on request of the customer. This will significantly reduce the distribution of straws. Customers who need them will ask for them, and those who don’t need them won’t receive them automatically only to throw them away.

Second, allow for use of straws made of alternative materials. There is an increased availability of straws made by other materials such as paper, metal, bamboo, and even pasta. These are great alternatives, and many businesses may find that they serve their customers well. We should be mindful, though, that alternative materials may not be suitable for all beverages. Allow businesses to decide if these alternative materials will be satisfactory to customers, and encourage and allow for the use.

By working together and making proactive choices, the hospitality industry can lead the charge on reducing the use and improper disposal of plastic straws. Blanket bans on straws are not the answer.


This week’s blog is written by Samantha Padgett, General Counsel for FRLA. For more information on our Government Relations team, please click here. You can find information about FRLA’s 2019 legislative priorities, including straw bans, here.

2018 Cabinet Elections Could Change Florida’s Political Landscape

Your mailbox is overflowing with mailers, your inbox is exploding with exposés, and the political commercials are never-ending. From local commission seats to Florida’s Cabinet, candidates are working overtime to define themselves and their opponents in an effort to win your vote. It’s enough to make you want to hide your head under a pillow until the election is over. Resist the urge! Your vote is crucial, and it will play a pivotal role in the next chapter of Florida’s policy and politics.

We’ve told you about the many constitutional amendments and given you the information you need to cast your vote on those issues. While the amendments are each important, they are certainly not the only items on what’s positioned to be a very long ballot in November. All of the seats in the Florida House and half the seats in our Senate are up for grabs. And, for the first time in a very long time, every single seat on Florida’s Cabinet is open and competitive. It is no exaggeration to say that this election could significantly change the political trajectory of our state.


What is the Cabinet?

Florida’s Cabinet is comprised of the Governor, Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture, and Chief Financial Officer.  Together, they make decisions on key issues such as the environment, land use, taxation, investment, and clemency.

Who’s running in these races?

While some of these races have several candidates, we’ve focused on the front-runners. For a complete list of candidates in all elections, check out this search page from the Florida Department of State.

Governor

While there are several candidates in the race for Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis (R) and Andrew Gillum (D) are presently leading the pack and running in a very tight race. DeSantis served as a Congressional representative for Florida’s sixth district, and Gillum currently serves as the mayor of Tallahassee.

Attorney General

For the position of Attorney General, Ashley Moody (R) and Shawn Shaw (D) have received their respective parties’ nomination. Moody is a former prosecutor and judge in Florida’s Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, which is in Hillsborough County. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and Stetson University. Shaw is the former Insurance Consumer Advocate for Florida and represents portions of Hillsborough County as the District 61 Representative in the Florida House.

Commissioner of Agriculture

In the Commissioner of Agriculture race, Matt Caldwell (R) is facing off against Nikki Fried (D). Caldwell and Fried are both life-long Floridians. Caldwell has worked as a real estate appraiser and has served in the Florida House of Representatives since 2018, representing the 73rd District from 2010 – 2012 and the 79th District since 2012. Fried is an attorney who served as the head of the Felony Division in the Alachua County Public Defender’s Office. In private practice, she defended homeowners against foreclosure in 2007-2008.

Chief Financial Officer

Florida’s current Chief Financial Officer, Jimmy Patronis (R), is running against Jeremy Ring (D). Patronis is a partner in Capt. Anderson’s, an historic seafood restaurant owned and operated by his family, and he served in the Florida House of Representatives until he was appointed CFO following the resignation of Jeff Atwater. Ring is a former tech start-up executive, having opened the first East Coast office of Yahoo! from his New York apartment. He has served in the Florida Senate from 2006 till 2016, first representing District 31 and then District 29.


What does this all mean for me?

It is likely (but certainly not guaranteed) that legislative control will remain in the hands of the Republicans, who have enjoyed control of the Cabinet for quite some time. However, the potential for Democratic presence in or even control of the Cabinet creates the possibility of a changing political landscape. Your vote helps decide Florida’s direction.

If you need to register to vote, look up your polling place, figure out who’s running for what, or track election results, the Florida Division of Elections can help you with that. Visit and take advantage of this one-stop-shop for all the information you need to participate in the democratic process during these mid-term elections.

Get out from under that pillow and vote. You can even vote early! Make sure you get to the very end of that very long ballot and ensure your voice is heard.

GET READY FOR SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY®

As an organization that serves local business owners and customers, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) is proud to support Small Business Saturday® this Nov 25.

Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express in 2010 to help strengthen local economies. Today, it’s a holiday shopping tradition celebrating a greater nationwide movement dedicated to uniting communities and supporting all kinds of small businesses, from the corner store to your favorite diner — because it’s unique small businesses like yours that help local communities stay vibrant.

Participating in Small Business Saturday is a great way to reach new customers and promote your business. Here are some ideas for getting involved on Nov 25

• Let your community know that you plan to participate in Small Business Saturday. Visit ShopSmall.com/YourDay for free promotional assets, like ready-made social posts, to show your support. 

• On Nov 25, transform your store. American Express offers free merchandise, while supplies last, to help your business make an impression. Don’t wait—apply for Small Business Saturday merchandise starting Oct 1 at ShopSmall.com/YourDay. Terms apply. 

• Connect with other organizations in your community to see how you can work together on Small Business Saturday events and promotions.

 

Join us this Nov 25 to celebrate Small Business Saturday.