Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Names Stars of the Hospitality Industry at Annual Gala

~Honored Industry Veterans Collectively Represent More Than 115 Years in Hospitality~

ORLANDO, FL – The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) announced its Stars of the Industry Hall of Fame Winners at an evening gala at the Caribe Royale Resort and Conference Center this week.

“The Hall of Fame recognition is one of FRLA’s highest honors, recognizing industry leaders for their exceptional service and outstanding hospitality that spans decades,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “These awards honor proven leaders who have left a lasting impact on Florida’s hospitality industry, and we are incredibly proud of this year’s honorees.”

The 2022 FRLA Hall of Fame winners are:

Supplier of the Year – Kevin Johnson, Founding Shareholder, Johnson Jackson PLLC

Kevin Johnson is a founding shareholder of Johnson Jackson PLLC, a top firm for employment law, and has been working with the hospitality industry for nearly three decades. The Johnson Jackson team is well-known for their trusted counsel to clients and their ability to fully understand the culture and needs of those they represent. He graduated from the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law in 1994. He became board certified in Labor and Employment Law by The Florida Bar in 2007. Kevin currently serves as the chair of the Standing Committee on Technology for The Florida Bar and is a past chair of both the Civil Procedure Rules Committee and the Solo and Small Firm Section. He has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America, has been named in Florida Trend’s Legal Elite, and has been listed by SuperLawyers on their list of the Top 100 attorneys in Florida for ten of the past eleven years. He is a native of Gainesville, Florida.

Frank Eucalitto – Restaurateur of the Year, President, Café Chardonnay

Frank Eucalitto has dedicated his life to the hospitality and has been a staple of the Palm Beach County community offering the best in food for locals since 1982. Chef Eucalitto and his wife Gigi have successfully created seven restaurants and an off-premise catering company. Graduating from the prestigious Johnston and Wales in Providence, Rhode Island, he holds degrees in both culinary arts and hotel/restaurant management. Frank is a respected businessmen in the local community and created No Anchovies! during the pandemic as a successful take-out concept. He has been named Businessman of the Year by the local Chamber of Commerce, was a past president and current board member and treasurer of the FRLA Palm Beach Chapter, and has been involved in numerous charitable events – including Share our Strength “Taste of the Nation” event and “Chef’s Helping Heroes.”

 Sheldon Suga – Hotelier of the Year, VP Managing Director at Hawks Cay Resort

A recent Chairman of the FRLA Board of Directors, Sheldon Suga has served more than 50 years in the U.S. and international hospitality industry and is well-known for his integrity, passion, and commitment to excellence, as well as his outstanding leadership of teams. Sheldon graduated from Ryerson University in Toronto with a degree in Hospitality Management and was accepted into the ITT Sheraton’s General Management Training program. During his time with ITT Sheraton, he attained the ITT Ring of Quality Worldwide Team Award and served as general manager at properties in West Hartford, New York City, Halifax, La Jolla, and Los Angeles. He also worked in Tokyo and was country manager for ITT Sheraton. Sheldon has also worked for Wyndham hotels and resorts as an area director in Atlanta and Puerto Rico. He also previously worked in Orlando at the Gaylord Palms as the VP Hotel Manager and was the opening SVP and general manager of the Gaylord National Resort.  Sheldon is a member of the District III Advisory Committee of the Monroe County TDC and a board member of Visit Florida. Additionally, he is on the Board of Trustees for The College of the Florida Keys and has served on the board of Tourism Halifax, Maryland Hotel and Motel Association, and on the Maryland Tourism Development Council.

AHLA RELEASE: Hotel leisure travel up 14% over 2019

WASHINGTON (October 17, 2022) U.S. hotel leisure travel revenue is projected to end 2022 14% above 2019 levels, while hotel business travel revenue is expected to come within 1% of 2019 levels, according to a new analysis released today by the American Hotel & Lodging Association and Kalibri Labs.

The projections are not adjusted for inflation, and real hotel revenue recovery will likely take several more years.

Post-pandemic recovery remains uneven, particularly in many major cities and destinations where business travel continues to lag. Among the top 50 U.S. markets, 80% are projected to see hotel leisure travel revenue exceed 2019 levels, but just 40% are expected reach that milestone for business travel revenue. Many urban markets, which rely heavily on business from events and group meetings, are still on the road to recovery.

Click here to view data for the top 50 markets.

The uptick in revenue is leading to historic career opportunities for hotel employees, with more than 115,000 hotel jobs currently open across the nation. Hotels are offering potential hires a host of incentives to fill vacancies—81% have increased wages, 64% are offering greater flexibility with hours, and 35% have expanded benefits, according to a September 2022 AHLA member survey.

“The hotel industry continues its march toward recovery, but we still have a way to go before we fully get there,” said AHLA President & CEO Chip Rogers. “That’s why AHLA remains focused on working with members, lawmakers and stakeholders in markets that are rebounding more slowly to ensure the full return of meetings, conferences, and group travel in addition to leisure and business travel. At the same time, we are continuing to grow the industry’s talent pipeline by highlighting the unprecedented career opportunities hotels are offering. Thanks to higher wages, better benefits, and more flexibility and opportunities for advancement, there has never been a better time to work at a hotel.”

 To help hotels fill open jobs and raise awareness of the hotel industry’s 200+ career pathways, the AHLA Foundation’s “A Place to Stay” multi-channel advertising campaign is now active in 14 cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego, and Tampa. For more info on the campaign, visit thehotelindustry.com.

AHLA recently completed a series of “Hospitality is Working” events in major cities across the country. The campaign has sought to increase business and leisure travel while highlighting the hotel industry’s strong commitment to investing in its workforce, protecting employees and guests, and supporting local communities.

 About AHLA

 The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) is the sole national association representing all segments of the U.S. lodging industry. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AHLA focuses on strategic advocacy, communications support and workforce development programs to move the industry forward. Learn more at www.ahla.com.

Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Warns Hospitality Industry After Ian: “Price Gouging Will Not Be Tolerated”

TALLAHASSEE – As Florida and its residents continue to recover from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Ian, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) today issued a stern message for the hospitality industry: there is absolutely no tolerance for price gouging.

“Florida is known for having such a wonderful and accommodating hospitality industry,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of FRLA. “It is absolutely unacceptable for anyone in this industry to take advantage of this historic emergency event for profit. That is not who we are as an industry or state, and price gouging will not be tolerated.”

 Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Florida’s price gouging laws remain in effect and cover commodities related to post-storm recovery – including essentials such as lodging for displaced Floridians and first responders who traveled from across the state to live amid the destruction and help survivors as they rebuild. We will aggressively investigate allegations of extreme price increases to protect Floridians and first responders doing everything they can to help us recover from this devastating storm.”

For anyone who suspects price gouging, report it to the Office of the Attorney General by calling 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (1-866-966-7226), filing online at MyFloridaLegal.com. Violators of the price gouging statute are subject to civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and up to a total of $25,000 for multiple violations committed in a single 24-hour period. In addition to the civil penalties for price gouging, state law criminalizes the sale of goods and services to the public without possession of a business tax receipt.


State of Florida Announces Transitional Sheltering Program for Residents Impacted by Hurricane Ian

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) Director Kevin Guthrie announced that the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) Program has been activated by the State of Florida, in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), for impacted residents in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns and Volusia counties.


Impacted residents from eligible counties who have applied for disaster assistance may be eligible to shelter in a hotel or motel paid for by FEMA. They may be eligible for TSA if they cannot return to their home and their housing needs cannot be met by insurance, shelters or rental assistance provided by FEMA or another agency (federal, state or nonprofit).

Eligible individuals can apply for FEMA assistance by visiting disasterassistance.gov, calling the disaster assistance helpline at 800-621-3362, or using the FEMA mobile app


Individuals will be notified of their eligibility through an automated phone call, text message and/or email, depending upon the method of communication they selected when they applied for assistance. Continued eligibility is determined on an individual basis. When eligibility ends, survivors will be notified by FEMA seven days prior to checkout date. TSA is limited to participating lodging properties in Florida, Alabama and Georgia.

Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) have also opened in Charlotte, Collier, Lee and Sarasota counties and are collocated with more than 10 agencies to provide a one-stop shop for individuals or businesses that need help recovering from the storm. The following DRCs are open daily, from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.:

Charlotte County

Home Depot (Mobile DRC)

  • 12621 S. McCall Rd.
    Port Charlotte, FL 33981

Collier County

Veterans Community Park

  • 1895 Veterans Park Dr
    Naples, FL 34109

Lee County 

Joseph P.D Alessandro Office Complex

  • 2295 Victoria Ave.
    Fort Myers, FL 33901
  • Lakes Regional Library
    • 15290 Bass Road
      Fort Myers, FL 33919

    Sarasota County

    Shannon Staub Library

    • 4675 Career Lane
      North Port, FL 34289

Blue Roof Program Available for Floridians in Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Collier and DeSoto

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Following Hurricane Ian, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has activated Operation Blue Roof to provide temporary blue tarp-like covering to help reduce further damage to property until permanent repairs can be made. This service is free to homeowners, and the initial sign-up period is set for 21 days, ending on October 23. Five counties are currently eligible:

  • Lee
  • Charlotte
  • Sarasota
  • Collier
  • DeSoto

Operation Blue Roof protects property, reduces temporary housing costs, and allows residents to remain in their homes while recovering from the storm. Homes eligible for Operation Blue Roof include primary residences or a permanently occupied rental property with less than 50% structural damage, excluding vacation rental properties. All storm debris must be removed for the roof to qualify. Roofs that are flat, metal, clay, slate, or asbestos tile do not qualify.

For more information, call 1-888-ROOF-BLU or visit this site.

Governor Ron DeSantis Activates the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, Making $50 Million Available – At Least $10 Million of Which Must Go to Assist Agricultural Businesses Impacted by Hurricane Ian

Governor Ron DeSantis Activates the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, Making $50 Million Available – At Least $10 Million of Which Must Go to Assist Agricultural Businesses Impacted by Hurricane Ian

Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Monroe, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, and Volusia counties are eligible to apply

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, making $50 million available — at least $10 million of which must go to small businesses that are agricultural producers impacted by Hurricane Ian in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Monroe, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, and Volusia counties. Small businesses in the most impacted counties — Charlotte, Collier, Lee, and Sarasota — will be escalated and prioritized as they are received.

The program, administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), provides short-term, zero-interest loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury or physical damage due to Hurricane Ian. Interested applicants can apply now through December 2, 2022, or until all available funds are expended.

“Thanks to Governor DeSantis’ strong, decisive leadership, we will ensure that communities across the state are able to recover quickly from Hurricane Ian’s devastation,” said DEO Secretary Dane Eagle. “Florida’s small business owners in need of assistance can now apply for the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program at www.FloridaJobs.org/EBL.”

Loans approved through the Emergency Bridge Loan Program are intended to “bridge the gap” between the time a disaster impacts a business and when a business has secured longer term recovery funding such as federally or commercially available loans, insurance claims, or other resources. Eligible small businesses may apply for loans of up to $50,000 through the program.

Loans made under this program are short-term, zero-interest, personal loans using State of Florida funds. They are not grants and loans must be repaid by the approved applicant.

DEO administers the Emergency Bridge Loan Program alongside its fiscal administrator, Florida First Capital Finance Corporation.

Visit www.FloridaJobs.org/EBL to learn more about the program, as well as to view the lending guidelines and required documentation and to complete an application by the December 2, 2022, deadline. Business owners who need further program information may call 833-832-4494 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time.


Governor DeSantis Waives Work Search Reporting and Additional Reemployment Assistance Requirements for Floridians Impacted by Hurricane Ian

Reemployment Assistance and Disaster Unemployment Assistance are available to eligible Floridians

** Eligible Floridians may apply for Reemployment Assistance and Disaster Unemployment Assistance Today, October 1, 2022 until 6 p.m. and Sunday, October 2, 2022, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Starting October 3, 2022, CONNECT will be available Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. ** 

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that the work search reporting, waiting week, and Employ Florida registration requirements for Reemployment Assistance claims have been temporarily waived for Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian in FEMA disaster-declared counties. By waiving these requirements, eligible Floridians will be able to quickly apply and receive reemployment assistance and disaster unemployment assistance benefits.

Additionally, Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is available to Florida businesses and residents in FEMA disaster-declared counties whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted as a direct result of Hurricane Ian and are not eligible for regular state or Federal Reemployment Assistance benefits.

“Right now, Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian are trying to meet their critical needs and what they don’t need are roadblocks interfering with their recovery,” said DEO Secretary Dane Eagle. “Governor DeSantis’ swift action to cut red tape and waive reporting requirements for reemployment assistance is the right choice to get families the help they need to get back on their feet faster, and DEO stands ready to distribute this vital assistance as quickly as possible.”

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is currently accepting applications for DUA from residents and businesses in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, and Volusia counties.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance is available to those who are ineligible to receive federal or state Reemployment Assistance benefits and the individual meets one of the following requirements:

  • Is unemployed as a direct result of the major disaster;
  • Was scheduled to start employment but was unable to as a direct result of the major disaster;
  • Is unable to reach their job or self-employment location because the individual has to travel through an affected area and is prevented from doing so as a direct result of the major disaster;
  • Has become the primary breadwinner because the head of the household died as a direct result of the major disaster; or
  • Is unable to work because of an injury that was a direct result of the major disaster.

To file a claim, go to http://www.floridajobs.org and select “File a Claim”, visit a local CareerSource Career Center, or call 1-800-385-3920. Customer service representatives are available Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time to assist claimants. For DUA claims information, call 1-833-FL-APPLY (1-833-352-7759) to speak with a representative.

Individuals must file for state Reemployment Assistance benefits before filing for DUA. During the application, claimants should indicate they have been impacted by the disaster. Claimants who are determined ineligible or who have exhausted Reemployment Assistance benefits will be automatically prompted to file a DUA application if they indicated on their Reemployment Assistance application that their employment was impacted by the disaster.

DUA is available for weeks of unemployment beginning September 25, 2022 until April 1, 2023­­­­­­­­­­­­, as long as the individual’s unemployment continues to be a direct result of the disaster. The deadline to submit a claim for DUA benefits is December 30, 2022.

Applications filed after the deadline will be considered untimely and DUA benefits may be denied unless the individual provides good cause. Applicants must submit their Social Security number, check stubs, and documentation to support the claim that they were working or self-employed when the disaster occurred, or evidence substantiating they were unable to begin employment or self-employment due to the disaster. In some cases, additional documentation may be required. To receive DUA benefits, all required documentation must be submitted within 21 days from the date the DUA application is filed.



Minimum Wage Increase Effective Today

In accordance with Florida’s Constitution, the minimum wage in Florida increases to $11 an hour, effective today, September 30, 2022. The cash wage for employers claiming tip credit is $7.98 beginning today. All Florida employers are required to post the current minimum wage in their place of business where an employee can see it.

FRLA’s subsidiary, RCS, sells all-inclusive compliance posters which include the minimum wage updates. Those can be purchased HERE.

Additionally, the minimum wage posters are available in English, Spanish, and Creole on our Minimum Wage webpage.

For more information on the minimum wage increase, please visit the FRLA Minimum Wage information page HERE. 

Background: On November 3, 2020, Florida voters approved AMENDMENT 2, which amends Florida’s constitution to gradually increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2026.



The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Activates Business Damage Assessment Survey to Evaluate Impact of Hurricane Ian on the State’s Business

Tallahassee, FL – Today, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) activated the Business Damage Assessment Survey in response to Hurricane Ian. Survey responses will allow the state to expedite Hurricane Ian recovery efforts by gathering data and assessing the needs of affected businesses.

“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, DEO is committed to supporting preparation, response, and recovery efforts of Florida businesses, communities, and citizens impacted by Hurricane Ian. The business damage assessment survey assists DEO and its federal, state, and local partners in those efforts,” said DEO Secretary Dane Eagle.  “I encourage businesses impacted by Hurricane Ian to complete the Business Damage Assessment Survey at FloridaDisaster.biz.”

On September 24, 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 22-219 declaring a state of emergency in all 67 counties in the State of Florida. All affected businesses should complete the survey.

Results from the Business Damage Assessment Survey will be shared with various federal, state, and local agencies to implement appropriate relief. Businesses can complete the survey online or visit  FloridaDisaster.biz and select “Hurricane Ian” from the dropdown menu. If you need additional assistance with your business, please call 850-815-4925 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. or email ESF-18@em.myflorida.com.

FRLA Asks Hotels to List Availability, Allow Pets

In advance of Hurricane Ian, FRLA continues to urge all Florida lodging operators to utilize VISIT Florida’s Emergency Accommodations Module (EAM) to list availabilities for visitors and displaced residents seeking lodging. Please update your listing as often as possible to provide the most accurate information for room-seekers. FRLA also respectfully requests all hotels to allow pets and waive no-pet policies so that families with pets can move to safety as pet-friendly shelters fill.

The Emergency Accommodations Module can be accessed here.