Congratulations to Florida’s New Michelin-Recognized Restaurants

TALLAHASSEE — Last night was a great victory for Florida restaurants, including dozens of FRLA Members across the state, who were recognized by the revered Michelin Guide. Restaurants in Tampa, Orlando, and Miami were recognized in categories for one star, two stars, Bib Gourmand awards, and recommended restaurants. Sommelier of the Year and Best Cocktail were also awarded.

“Guests come from across the state, country, and globe to experience Florida’s world-class dining options, said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “Not only is the Michelin recognition well deserved, but it will bring more people to our state, to our hotels, and to our restaurants, strengthening our communities and the overall health of our hospitality industry. Congratulations to our many FRLA member winners and to all recognized!”



2 Stars 

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Miami

1-Star Awards 


Boia De

Cote Miami

The Den at Sushi Azabu Miami

Elcielo Miami: Juan Manuel Barrientos

Hiden:  Chef Shingo Akikuni

Le Jardinier

Los Félix

Stubborn Seed: Jeremy Ford

The Surf Club Restaurant: Thomas Keller

Bib Gourmand (Value for Money) 


Chug’s Diner


El Turco

Ghee Indian Kitchen

Hometown Barbecue Miami


Krüs Kitchen

La Natural


Lung Yai Thai Tapas

Mandolin Aegean Bistro

Michael’s Genuine

Phuc Yea

Red Rooster Overtown

Sanguich de Miami

Tinta y Café

Zak the Baker

Zitz Sum

Sommelier of the Year

Victoria James, Cote Miami

Exceptional Cocktail Award

Ruben Rolon, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Miami and Le Jardinier Miami

Michelin-Recommended Miami

 Mister 01 Extraordinary Pizza

Nossa Omakase



Estiatorio Milos

Joe’s Stone Crab


Le Zoo


Josh’s Deli

Latin Café


Sushi Yasu Tanaka



Buya Izakaya + Yakitori




Hakkasan Miami

Niu Kitchen


Luca Osteria

La Camaronera


Hiyakawa Miami

Doca Provisions

Café La Trova

Los Fuegos by Francis Mallman

Pao by Paul Qui

Hoja Taqueria

La Mar by Gaston Aurio

27 Restaurant & Bar


Havana Harry’s


1-Star Awards in Orlando

Knife & Spoon




Bib Gourmand 

Bombay Street Kitchen

Ravenous Pig

Papa Llama



Swine & Sons

Z Asian

Michelin-Recommended Orlando


California Grill

Orlando Meats


Se7en Bites


The Pinery


Kabooki Sushi


Pizza Bruno


Kai Asian Street Fare

Black Rooster Taqueria


Tori Tori

Shin Jung

Maxine’s on Shine

Sticky Rice

The Polite Pig

Four Flamingos, A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen

Moriomoto Asia

Sear + Sea


Bib Gourmand

Ichicoro Ramen


Rooster and the Till

Michelin-Recommended Tampa

Bern’s Steakhouse



Restaurant BT

Oak & Ola





Mise en Place



Yummy House


Bistro BT

On Swann


To visit the Michelin Guide site for all Florida-recognized restaurants, click here.





Do You Love Your Point of Sale?

With Valentine’s Day approaching, love is in the air. But if you’re not in love with your point of sale (POS) because it’s unreliable and hard to deal with, it’s time for a change. Breaking up with your POS doesn’t have to be messy. Look for these telltale signs that you and your POS are no longer compatible.

Your POS isn’t cloud-based

If your POS system isn’t operating in real time, you’ve lost the ability to see an immediate and complete picture of what’s happening at your business, what isn’t happening, and what absolutely needs to happen in terms of day-to-day operations. For example, a traditional POS requires you to run reports from an in-store terminal, so your ability to make data-driven business decisions is limited to when you’re at a business location. Having real-time sales and inventory information in the palm of your hand wherever you are is a game changer. That immediacy can only be provided by a POS system connected to the cloud. To stay competitive, moving to the cloud-based POS becomes a necessity, not a luxury.

Your POS isn’t user-friendly

Does your staff hate using your POS when it comes to voids, refunds, split payments, modifiers, and last-minute changes to order details? If your staff has bad user experiences on your POS, chances are your guests have too. A well-designed POS increases staff productivity. For example, it is far quicker for a staff member to punch an order into an iPad and send it directly to the kitchen or bar than to write it down.

Your POS system doesn’t accept all payment options

If your POS isn’t keeping up with all of the rapidly expanding ways customers want to pay, you’re missing out on sales. Payment technology is evolving at leaps and bounds: EMV chip cards, Apple Pay. Google Pay, Samsung Pay and more. Supporting the methods guests prefer to pay is fundamental to your ability to serve them, including digital wallet, pay-at-the-table and pay by guest app options. Your POS should serve that expectation, too.

Your POS makes data vulnerable to attack

Data attacks on POS systems in hotels, restaurants, and foodservices are notoriously common. To protect you and your customers, your POS must have the latest security measures. An investment in a cloud-based POS system that is PA-DSS compliant, and partnering with payment partners who support these strict standards, helps you avoid data breaches. In turn, this helps you avoid the costs associated with attacks, which are significant.

Your POS system is unreliable

Outages and hardware issues can occur at the worst possible moment. The question is: How do these circumstances affect your POS? Can you continue to serve guests during an outage? If not, this is yet another sign that your POS needs to be replaced. Modern POS technology provides performance that legacy systems can’t match. They’re designed to perform flawlessly (99.999%), and you can continue taking orders and payments even if the internet goes down.

Your POS system doesn’t meet guest expectations

Flexibility is key to a great guest experience. If your POS doesn’t connect easily with loyalty programs, self-serve kiosks, and provide electronic receipts, it’s not connecting with how your guests want to interact with your business. For instance, your POS should allow guests to be served and billed right where they are. It should integrate with loyalty apps, and split a bill between customers and various modes of payment. If your POS solution is letting you down in these areas, it’s time to say goodbye.

Your POS isn’t supported by the right partner

Have you had issues or questions which required you to contact your POS provider? Did that partner immediately resolve these issues, or did a delay cost you sales? As the most critical tool in your store, any questions about your POS system should be answered promptly in person, via phone, chat, email and a 24/7/365 support center. You should never have to go it alone.


About Heartland
Heartland provides entrepreneurs with software-driven technology to manage and grow their business. The company serves more than 400,000 merchants nationwide, delivering trusted solutions for payment, payroll and human resources, point of sale, customer engagement and lending. Heartland is a leading industry advocate of transparency, merchant rights and security. Heartland is a Global Payments Company (NYSE: GPN), a Fortune 500 Company. Learn more at

Meet our January Member of the Month

Meet Laurie Farlow, our January 2020 Member of the Month! Laurie is the proud owner and operator of Farlow’s on the Water, located in Englewood, Florida, which she runs with her husband Keith.

Her career in the restaurant industry began in 2003, when she and Keith opened Farlow’s. The 285-seat restaurant serves food with a Caribbean taste and Southern twist. Before opening Farlow’s, Laurie had zero restaurant experience but plenty of supervisory and management service. It was actually Keith who had the experience and passion for food service. With their combined experiences, Laurie and Keith make the perfect team for operating Farlow’s.

Laurie’s favorite part about working in the restaurant industry is meeting people (customers, employees and other trade professionals). To her, customer service is about connecting with people.

Thank you, Laurie, for being a wonderful FRLA member. We are proud to honor you as our January Member of the Month.

If you haven’t already, watch Laurie’s highlight video below:

Make 2020 a Breakout Year!

January means new opportunities to do new things. If increased business success is at the top of your 2020 bucket list, take these five steps to make that wish come true. They will amp-up business to create a more prosperous New Year.

1. Create a website

If you’re part of the third of small businesses that still don’t have a website, make this the year you add one. Your customers expect it. They need to be able to find you. Thirty percent of consumers won’t even consider a business without a website. With a website, you’re reaching people even when you’re asleep and selling products all the time — not simply between your brick and mortar hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Without a website, the chances of showing up on the search engine results are zero. But if you have a site, you can optimize it for search engines and increase your chances of appearing at the top of Google’s results. Why is that important? A vast majority of customers use their smartphones and tablets to decide where to go and what to buy. If you don’t have a visible website, customers simply go elsewhere.

2. Be Social

Have you been putting off getting your business on social media? With more than three billion people using social media, you can’t afford not to be social any longer. Make 2020 the year you join the crowd. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube are perfect digital spaces to showcase your business, products and promotions. Plugging into social media gives you new ways to connect with your customers, hear what they want you to offer more of, and promote your website.

3. Get Mobile-Friendly

Is your website mobile friendly? Most visitors to your web page are reaching it through a smartphone or tablet these days. Make it part of your e-commerce strategy this year to optimize your website for small screens. After all, no one wants to squint to read a website or scroll ten times to find your phone number.

4. Find Your Marketing Voice

If you’re using the same marketing strategy year over year and getting mixed results, it’s time to change things up. Your business can’t be everything for everyone. Instead of casting a wide net, use sales records from your in-store POS, mobile app and online store to define exactly who your target customers are. Once you’ve zeroed in, make sure to use email marketing to reach out to customers about upcoming promotions. Seventy-two percent of consumers say email is their favorite method of communication with companies they do business with, and 61 percent like to receive promotional emails every week from businesses.

5. Fine Tune Your Customer Service

Every year, you should be looking at all of your customer touch points – from the counter to curb to doorstep and online – to ensure you’re providing gold-star customer service experiences. Seven out of ten consumers spend more with companies that provide excellent customer service. And if that isn’t reason enough, consider that it’s five times more expensive to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones. Adopt these five resolutions and you’ll get your business off on the right foot by helping more customers discover you throughout the New Year.


About Heartland

Heartland provides entrepreneurs with software-driven technology to manage and grow their business. The company serves more than 400,000 merchants nationwide, delivering trusted solutions for payment, payroll and human resources, point of sale, customer engagement and lending. Heartland is a leading industry advocate of transparency, merchant rights and security. Heartland is a Global Payments Company (NYSE: GPN), a Fortune 500 Company. Learn more at

Feeling Jolly About our December Member of the Month

Get to know our December Member of the Month, Damien O’Riordan, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota.

Damien attended the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology pursuing a degree in hospitality management nearly 25 years ago and immediately found his passion for the industry.

To Damien, Sarasota has so much to offer visitors and locals alike, and considers it the “best kept secret”. Boasting 35 miles of white-sand beaches, fabulous restaurants, and countless things to do, Sarasota is a tourist haven. Sarasota’s Ritz-Carlton boasts over 250 rooms, and offers wonderful amenities to help visitors explore this beach destination. However, Damien doesn’t take credit for the exemplary service offered here. He couldn’t do it without his hard-working staff.

Damien is a gift to FRLA, and a gift to The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. Be sure to check out his highlight to learn more about this awesome member!

Ready to modernize payroll? These technologies can help.

Are you one of almost 30 percent of businesses still using payroll technology more than 10 years old? If so, your days of working with paper timesheets, punch cards and physical time clocks should be over.

Luckily for today’s entrepreneur, modern technology makes payroll administration easier and more affordable than ever. You can use cloud-based platforms, automated workflows and mobile-friendly apps to accurately manage payroll on the go, and assure compliance.

Payroll administration is a lot more than just handing out checks. Cloud-based payroll systems make it easy to share data, work remotely and stay up to date on ever-changing labor laws and requirements. They simplify data collection to determine how someone should be paid, how benefits time is managed, how taxes are withheld and paid, and how compliance and reporting is conducted.

Here are five ways technology is simplifying payroll management, reporting and compliance.

Powered by the cloud

Software updates and data backups are automatic, and keep you current with tax compliance and other regulations. Convenient, remote access eliminates the need to be at the office to run payroll. And with your payroll and Human Resource Information System (HRIS) data stored in the cloud, in a single system, you have better, more secure control over sensitive data such as Social Security numbers, compensation, benefits and address information.

Increased process automation

When multiple people are inputting the same information across a spectrum of applications, the risk for inaccuracies increases. Payroll automation creates error-free data by eliminating this manual and redundant entry. Additionally, modern payroll software accesses all relevant information necessary to automatically adhere with ever changing federal, state and local tax codes, wage rates and more.

Bio-metric time tracking

Employees today can clock in or out with their phone, iPad or the web using facial recognition and GPS. This eliminates “buddy punching” and records late arrivals, early departures and unplanned absences. Geo-Fencing is used to draw boundaries around the site where employees can clock in and clock out so you always know the exact location of an employee. Recorded time punches are automatically sent to payroll.

Online employee engagement

Self-service and a greater focus on the employee experience are hallmarks of modern payroll systems. Today’s self-service portal enables employees to track their time, update personal information and manage their benefits on their laptop or mobile device – without ever having to contact another person. Mobile apps also allow employees to remotely access schedules, swap and cover shifts (with manager approval) and request dates/times to take off. Additionally, job seekers can apply to open positions via text to make it easier for you to recruit new hires. Applicants can fill out and submit forms online. The hiring process needs no face-to-face time with an applicant until the final interview.

Unified data access

Having different systems talk to each other makes payroll much easier to manage. The data belonging to the areas of benefits administration, payroll, deductions, taxes, staff reviews and more is today integrated and consolidated across platforms so you can quickly access and reference it.

These payroll technology advancements can save you substantial time and money, and also do a better job of keeping you compliant with current labor laws, tax regulations and filing requirements. Upgrading your legacy payroll system will have you working smarter, not harder, and you’ll be asking yourself “why didn’t I make the change sooner.”

About Heartland

Heartland provides entrepreneurs with software-driven technology to manage and grow their business. The company serves more than 400,000 merchants nationwide, delivering trusted solutions for payment, payroll and human resources, point of sale, customer engagement and lending. Heartland is a leading industry advocate of transparency, merchant rights and security. Heartland is a Global Payments Company (NYSE: GPN). Learn more at

Thankful for our November Member of the Month

“We’re in the food and beverage industry. We love to make people happy. When you see a smile on the face of a guest, that’s what makes it all.” – Leigh Doyle

At FRLA, we are thankful to have such supportive and involved members like our November Member of the Month, Leigh Doyle. Leigh is the Vice President for Ellie Lou’s Brews & BBQ in Ocoee, Florida, and serves on the board for our Central Florida chapter, as well as a chair on the legislative committee.

His career in the hospitality and tourism industry began at Disney World, where he served countless Dole Whips to smiling faces. It was working at Disney that Leigh found his passion for the industry. Now, as Vice President, he oversees 98 employees. Leigh and the Ellie Lou’s team partner with local schools to support programs they need assistance with at the time.

Thank you, Leigh, for your involvement and love for the industry. Be sure to watch his highlight if you haven’t already!


The Inn-side scoop on our Member of the Month

Our September Member of the Month is inn-spiring! Meet Anthony Sexton, owner of the Victorian House Bed & Breakfast in St. Augustine. Anthony is a member of our newest chapter, the Florida Inns.

While he’s always loved the hospitality industry, managing an Inn is his first time on the lodging side. Now a seasoned innkeeper with 8 years of experience under his belt, he has enjoyed every minute tackling his goals with his wife, Marilyn, by his side.

Anthony truly has a passion for the hospitality industry, and enjoys getting to meet every friendly face that walks through the door. As an “ambassador” of St. Augustine, he always makes sure guests are set up for a successful trip!

Take a look at Anthony’s highlight video!

Know someone you think should be our next Member of the Month? Nominate them today!

Reputation Equals Revenue

A few keystrokes on social media can have a powerful effect on your business.

Did you know:

  • Over 80 percent of potential guests read local business reviews before deciding where to eat. Nearly 70 percent trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
  • A positive review makes 68 percent of consumers more likely to visit a business. Meanwhile, 87 percent of people won’t consider a restaurant with low ratings.
  • A 1-star increase in online reputation yields up to a 9 percent increase in revenue.

This makes regular monitoring of your online reputation mandatory. These five tricks will ensure your social presence isn’t driving your customers to competitors.

1. Run a search
It’s been said that your brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what Google says it is. Online search results are today’s digital storefront, and you need to make sure you’re creating a good first impression. Run a Google search on your name and your restaurant’s name. What types of comments, news, and images pop up? If you don’t want customers to see things that should have stayed in Vegas, don’t post them on your social media pages.

2. Help customers find you
Make sure your name, phone number, menus, URLs, and operating hours are consistent across all of your online touchpoints (website, social media, local listing sites, etc.). This ensures that when someone searches for your business online, they can find you—as well as accurate information about what you offer.

3. Respond to reviews
A 1-star difference on Yelp between you and a competitor represents about $90,000 in lost sales each year for restaurants earning $1 million annually. So it’s important to nurture good reviews.

Over 50 percent of customers leaving reviews expect a business response within a week. Thus, whenever someone sings your praises, go out of your way to thank them. Positive reviews are a more important purchase consideration for consumers than discounting or business location.

If a customer leaves a negative review, don’t ignore it. When you respond respectfully to a negative review, people are more likely to visit your business. Meanwhile, online complaints that go unanswered make consumers distrust your business. Instead take a non-defensive attitude and apologize publicly to the customer. Offer to find a solution, and invite the individual to contact you to resolve the problem together. When a business tries to make things right, 89 percent of consumers are willing to change a review.

4. Make your website current, mobile friendly
More than half of consumers view websites with their smartphones. Is your website mobile-optimized? No one wants to squint to read a menu or scroll 10 times to find your phone number. Also, when was the last time you updated your site? Does it showcase your current specials and menus? When consumers see old, stale content, they are less inclined to visit.

5. Auto post and monitor content
If you aren’t already using a social media management platform, you may want to start. It’s a time saver by consolidating all of your social media site content in one place for you to review. It can show you which posts are popular, shared, liked, and commented on. It also empowers you to post to multiple social channels at once.

Everyday consumers are window shopping your digital storefront. How you manage your social reputation either invites them in the door or sends them someplace else. Use these simple steps to build a positive online presence.

About Heartland

Heartland provides entrepreneurs with software-driven technology to manage and grow their business. The company serves more than 400,000 merchants nationwide, delivering trusted solutions for payment, payroll and human resources, point of sale, customer engagement and lending. Heartland is a leading industry advocate of transparency, merchant rights and security. Heartland is a Global Payments Company (NYSE: GPN). Learn more at

Meet our June Member of the Month

We are honored to have Heidi Dennis as our June Member of the Month.

From the beginning of her career, Heidi knew the hospitality industry was meant for her and aspired to become a general manager of a hotel. When people doubted her, she kept pushing with strength and determination, eventually becoming the general manager of the beautiful Pelican Grand Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale.

With such a passion for our industry, it was a no-brainer to select this hospitality hero as our June Member of the Month. In addition, Heidi is a champion for FRLA and currently holds the position of Chair of Events for our Broward Chapter. Heidi is described by Regional Director Lynne Hernandez as being an “incredibly humble and generous person who cares so much for others.”

We can’t wait to see Heidi continue to grow and further her team at the Pelican Grand Beach Resort.

Watch Heidi’s highlight below to get to know more about her.

Want to see our previous Members of the Month? Click here.