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.

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.

Meet our January Member of the Month

 

 

Meet Chip and Amanda Evans.

They are the proud owners of Willie Jewell’s Bar-B-Q in Tallahassee, Florida, and FRLA’s first ever Member of the Month.

These members have been actively engaged in FRLA since they joined in June 2018. With a passion for giving back, Chip and Amanda have taken advantage of FRLA’s involvement in the community. Chip says, “We try and give whenever we can. FRLA has been good about plugging us in. This is where the opportunities to give are.”

In October 2018, Hurricane Michael devastated the Panhandle. Victims of this disaster were left homeless, without food, water, power, or clean clothes. Along with other FRLA members, Chip and Amanda headed to Marianna to provide hot, fresh food and necessities to the community members in need.

From help with the hurricane to volunteering time and food with Vet Events Tally and other organizations, Chip and Amanda always go the extra mile to give. Regional Director Nick Lowe noted that they are “members who understand what it really means to serve others.”

Thank you, Chip and Amanda, for all you do for FRLA and the community.

To see what they had to say about FRLA, check out their Member of the Month video below.