Positive trends improve industry outlook; uncertainty and waning consumer confidence could impact long-term rebuilding

Washington, D.C. – Today, the National Restaurant Association released a mid-year supplement to the 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry Report, which illustrates the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the restaurant industry. The report provides an updated look at key indicators and trends influencing the industry’s recovery as of June/July 2021, including the current state of the economy, workforce, and food and beverage sales.

Key findings include:
• Food and beverage sales in the restaurant and foodservice industry are projected to total $789 billion in 2021, up 19.7% from 2020.
• Despite a steady trend of job creation in the first half of the year, eating and drinking places are still nearly 1 million jobs, or 8%, below pre-pandemic employment levels and the restaurants and accommodations sector have one of the highest levels of unfilled job openings of any industry.
• As of June 2021, 39 states and the District of Columbia had reopened to 100% indoor dining capacity; 11 states and Puerto Rico are open at varying capacities ranging from 50% to 80%.
• Six in 10 adults have changed their restaurant use due to the rise in the delta variant.
“Faced with one of the most devastating and disruptive events of our lifetime, the restaurant industry has taken significant strides toward rebuilding over the first half of 2021,” said Tom Bené, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “Consumer expectations around dining out have changed, and the industry is continually adapting to not only meet, but exceed, these expectations. Restaurant operators, along with their partners throughout the supply and distribution chain, remain focused on providing diners with a safe and enjoyable experience, amid rising food and labor costs and challenges related to the pandemic. Given these factors, our outlook through the end of the year is one of cautious optimism.”

Labor and Food Costs Remain Top Challenges
July marked the seventh consecutive month of staffing growth, translating to a net increase of 1.3 million jobs in the first half of 2021. Despite these increases, eating and drinking places remain nearly 1 million jobs or 8% below pre-pandemic employment levels. Operators also continue to grapple with higher input costs, with wholesale food prices increasing at their fastest rate in seven years.

• 75% of restaurant operators reported that recruiting employees was their top challenge as of June 2021 – the highest level ever recorded.
• The fullservice segment was down 626,000 jobs, or 11% below pre-pandemic employment levels; the limited-service segment was down 175,000 jobs or 4% in the same period.
• Menu prices have increased nearly 4% through June 2021.

Technology, Outdoor Dining, and Alcohol To-Go Are Here to Stay
The pandemic catalyzed many changes in the restaurant industry including the rapid consumer adoption of technology for online ordering, electronic payment, and order pickup. Consumers want to see restaurants continue incorporating technology and are keen to continue using outdoor dining. In 31 jurisdictions, thanks to approved legislation, consumers will be able to continue ordering alcoholic beverages with their takeout.

• 52% of adults would like to see restaurants incorporate more technology to make ordering and payment easier.
• 84% of adults say they favor allowing restaurants to set up tables on sidewalks, parking lots or streets permanently.
• A majority of adults in states that allow alcoholic beverages with takeout and delivery orders would like to see it continue on a permanent basis.

The Threat of Delta
In the first half of 2021 industry trends were positive, but there is still a long road ahead. A National Restaurant Association survey, conducted Aug. 13-15, found that the delta variant of COVID-19 threatens to reverse the gains made in the first six months of the year.

• 6 in 10 adults changed their restaurant use due to the rise in the delta variant.
• 19% of adults said they completely stopped going out to restaurants.
• 37% of adults said they ordered delivery or takeout instead of dining in a restaurant.
• 32% of adults said that if asked to wear a mask and/or show proof of vaccination to dine indoors again, they would be less likely to dine in a restaurant.

“The trends from the first half of the year are promising, but a lot of uncertainty remains in regard to the delta variant, consumer confidence, and ongoing labor challenges,” said Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of Research for the National Restaurant Association. “We expect restaurant pent-up demand will remain high in the coming months. However, in this state of flux, maintaining the availability of on-site dining with few capacity restrictions will be critical to keeping the overall sales momentum going forward, especially for fullservice operators.”

The National Restaurant Association will continue to monitor the effect of COVID-19 on the industry in the coming months and plans a full State of the Restaurant Industry Report in early 2022.

Click here to download the 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry Mid-Year Update, sponsored by Sage Intacct.


About the National Restaurant Association
Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 15.6 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We sponsor the industry’s largest trade show (National Restaurant Association Show); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF’s ProStart). For more information, visit and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.

Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) Announces Exclusive Partnership with Besnard Insurance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 30, 2021   

MEDIA CONTACT: Ashley Chambers,


TALLAHASSEE – Today, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) announced a new exclusive partnership agreement with Besnard Insurance, a Florida-based agency that has been working in the Florida hospitality industry for more than 40 years and is a leading writer of hospitality insurance nationwide.

FRLA will exclusively promote Florida Hospitality Risk Advisors, a division of Besnard Insurance, as the preferred insurance provider for Florida restaurants and lodging establishments for property, general liability, liquor liability, EPLI, flood, cyber, and other specialty lines of coverage.

“FRLA is proud to partner with Florida Hospitality Risk Advisors to offer these affordable lines of specialty insurance coverage to our members,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “This program will protect our industry fairly and at a reasonable rate. We have worked with these companies for many years, and we are confident in the products and the accompanying service that they are providing to Florida’s hospitality industry.”

“This is a great opportunity for Florida restaurant owners to find an affordable solution to help them run the safest and most profitable restaurants and hotels,” said Adam Besnard, CEO of Besnard Insurance.  “We couldn’t be more pleased to join this partnership with such a great organization who advocates on behalf of the restaurants around the state of Florida.”

“The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association has always educated and promoted the interests of Florida’s best restaurants and hotels,” said Tony Davenport, President of Florida Hospitality Risk Advisors. “We are honored to partner with them to expand that mission by providing customized, affordable solutions that help members ‘Navigate the Rough Waters of Today’s Hospitality Insurance’ to protect their businesses and investments.”

FRLA will promote this solution through their website, under the FRLA Insurance Marketplace, a streamlined system that allows members to quickly secure competitive insurance products.

To learn more about this partnership, its benefits, or how to purchase these products, visit: .


About Besnard Insurance / Florida Hospitality Risk Advisors (FLHRA): Since 1979, Besnard Insurance has excelled in supporting business owners in better managing long-term insurance costs while providing the best solutions to clients.  They are a nationwide insurance specialist with the reputation of being unmatched in the ability to provide innovative and customized solutions while delivering the highest level of personal service.  Besnard Insurance proudly supports countless small to medium sized businesses and even some of the world’s largest brands.

About FRLA: The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) is Florida’s premier non-profit hospitality industry trade association. Founded in 1946 as the Florida Restaurant Association, FRLA merged with the Florida Hotel and Motel Association in 2006. FRLA’s more than 10,000 members include independent hoteliers and restaurateurs, household name franchises, theme parks and suppliers. The association’s mission is to protect, educate and promote Florida’s nearly $112 billion hospitality industry which represents 1.5 million employees. Dedicated to safeguarding the needs of the membership, FRLA provides legislative advocacy to ensure the voices of its members are heard and their interests are protected. The association offers regulatory compliance and food safety training through SafeStaff® and FRLA’s subsidiary, RCS Training. The FRLA Educational Foundation provides industry-developed, career-building high school programs throughout the state.




Florida Restaurant Industry Financial Security in Danger of Being Wiped Out Without Congressional Relief

~More than $2.7 Billion in unfunded Florida Restaurant Revitalization Fund applications leave local small business owners in limbo~

[TALLAHASSEE] – Today, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA), the National Restaurant Association, and other state restaurant association partners sent a letter to Congressional leadership sharing new national consumer confidence survey findings and urging swift replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). Florida has more than 11,500 pending applications that total nearly $2.7 billion in stabilization funding that would be addressed by the $60 billion proposed replenishment bills.

The letter urges Congress to complete the mission of the RRF and provide adequate funds to replenish the program and offer relief for the applications still pending.

“There are thousands of Florida small business owners stuck in limbo waiting to find out if Congress will act to provide the stability they need to make it through this new pandemic threat and into the future,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association]. “The rise of coronavirus variants like delta threaten to push these restaurants closer to permanently closing their doors. It’s time for Congress to step in and fulfill the promise of the RRF.”

The National Restaurant Association survey found that nationally a majority of consumers have already changed their dining behavior, which is beginning to put acute pressure back on the restaurant industry. This faltering consumer confidence comes on top of restaurant labor costs at a 10-year high, increased food and supply prices, continued labor shortage issues, and crushing long-term debt loads for countless restaurant owners.

Specifically, the survey found the following:

  • 6 in 10 adults changed their restaurant use due to the rise in the delta variant
  • 19% of adults have stopped going out to restaurants
  • 9% have cancelled existing plans to go out to a restaurant in recent weeks
  • 37% have ordered takeout or delivery instead of going out to a restaurant
  • 19% have chosen to sit outside instead of inside when going out to a restaurant

“For an industry that requires a ‘full house’ every evening to make a profit, this is a dangerous trend,” said Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “These changes indicate declining consumer confidence that will make it more difficult for most restaurant owners to maintain their delicate financial stability.”

Read the full letter sent to Congressional leadership here.









Florida’s liquor license lottery is now open. Here’s what you need to know – South Florida Business Journal

Article Pulled From the South Florida Business Journal

Applications to enter Florida’s annual quota liquor license drawing are now open, providing an opportunity for residents and businesses alike.

Each year, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s (DBPR) Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco runs a lottery to award a set number of quota liquor licenses in different counties, depending on population growth in each county. This year, the DBPR is awarding 49 licenses statewide, including two in Miami-Dade County, one in Broward County and three in Palm Beach County.

The application process runs until Sept. 29, according to the DBPR.

While liquor licenses are common throughout Florida, these quota licenses stand out in how versatile – and therefore valuable – they are, said Valerie Haber, a shareholder at Miami-based GrayRobinson who specializes in alcohol-related law.

Quota licenses, she said, are not limited in how the owner of one of these licenses can use them. While a normal license may only apply to bottle sales or on-premise consumption, quota licenses can be used for any and all alcohol sales. Quota licenses also don’t have a requirement for food sales like standard beer and wine licenses do.

That, plus the limited supply, means whoever wins one of these licenses in the lottery drawing could be in for a six-digit sale of that transferable license, easily.

“Because they are limited, they’re sort of akin to the taxi medallions in New York City,” Haber said. “They have an inherit value because they’re in low supply and in high demand.”

The asking price for a Palm Beach County-applicable quota license, for example, is $385,000 on Florida License Auctioneers.

It costs just $100 per application to enter the drawing. Individuals can apply on behalf of themselves, as well as through business entities, allowing someone to submit multiple applications.

However, applicants must be at least 21 years old to enter and have a clean criminal history over the past 15 years to be eligible.

Chances of winning a quota license, much like in any lottery, are slim. In 2020, there were 23,655 entries deemed qualified by the DBPR, but there were only 62 available licenses. That’s a 0.003% chance to win.

Those who win must pay an initial fee of $10,750 to activate the license and claim it, Haber said. It comes with a $1,820-per-year license fee, and if any license owner wants to sell its license within 36 months of when it was issued, the owner must pay $27,300 to the state.

Those fees may seem steep, but depending on what county the license is designated to, it shouldn’t be difficult to more than triple the investment, she added.

The process to be approved for a license is long, Haber said, so small-scale mom-and-pop operators rarely apply for the license as a first resort.

For example, while the application process for the 2020 quota liquor license drawing opened in August 2020, the winners weren’t announced until late June 2021. Therefore, these quota licenses aren’t a speedy option for those who need a license in the near future.

VISIT DBPR’s website here for more details.



The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Activates Business Damage Assessment Survey in Response to Tropical Storm Fred

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) activated the Business Damage Assessment Survey in response to Tropical Storm Fred, which made landfall near Cape San Blas on Monday, August 16, 2021. Survey responses will allow the state to gather data in order to ensure resources are available to assist businesses that were impacted by the severe weather.

“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, we will work to support and assist businesses impacted by Tropical Storm Fred,” said Dane Eagle, Secretary of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “We encourage affected businesses to complete the Business Damage Assessment survey at”

The survey will assess businesses affected by the severe weather and share the results with various federal, state, and local agencies to implement appropriate relief. Businesses can complete the survey online at FloridaDisaster.BIZ by selecting “Tropical Storm Fred Business Damage Assessment Survey.” If you need additional assistance, please call 850-815-4925.

About DEO

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity combines the state’s economic, workforce and community development efforts, expediting economic development projects to fuel job creation in competitive communities and promote economic resiliency. For more information, including valuable resources for employers and job seekers, please visit




AHLA, Biden Administration, SBA Collaboration Expands, Improves EIDL Loan Program


WASHINGTON (August 11, 2021)The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), the Biden Administration and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) collaborated over the last several months to expand and improve the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program for the hotel industry, which was heavily impacted by COVID 19.

The ongoing dialogue led to an increase in the cap on total loan amounts and a waiver of affiliation rules to ensure hotels can benefit from long term, low interest rates.

AHLA has been working with Biden Administration and SBA officials for months to secure the changes, which would directly benefit hoteliers. The changes, outlined in a special webinar for AHLA members today, include:

  • Raising the loan cap to $2 million per property
  • Raising the aggregate loan cap to $10 million
  • Waiving the program’s affiliation rules to mirror those of the Paycheck Protection Program
  • A low 3.75% interest rate over a 30-year fixed amortization period
  • Waiving the credit-elsewhere requirement
  • Allowing use of funds to pay down prior commercial debt and to make monthly Principal and Interest payments toward federal debt

The application period for the revised EIDL program begins the week of August 16, and AHLA is encouraging members to apply as soon as possible since Congress may attempt to use some of the program’s funding to pay for pending legislation. Information on how to apply for the loans is here.

“When we asked the Biden administration and SBA to work with us to provide more help for hoteliers struggling from the pandemic, they made it happen. The culmination of those efforts is EIDL’s expansion – a huge step forward for our industry in terms of COVID relief,” said AHLA president and CEO Chip Rogers. “The new and improved EIDL program is a fantastic opportunity for hoteliers to access capital to help address commercial debt, operating costs and other expenses as travel slowly returns to pre-pandemic levels. We are grateful to the Biden Administration and SBA for working with us to improve EIDL to better serve hoteliers, who have been left out of other COVID relief programs and are vital to the economic growth of nearly every community around the country.”

COVID-19 is the single worst economic event in the history of the American hotel industry. Despite being among the hardest hit by the pandemic, hotels are the only segment of the hospitality and leisure industry yet to receive direct COVID-related aid.

While the recent uptick in leisure travel for summer is encouraging, it will not offset the nearly 500,000 hotel jobs lost due to COVID. The hotel industry generates 53% of its revenue from business travel and events. According to a recent Deloitte survey, corporate travel is projected to remain at only 30 percent of 2019 levels through the end of 2021. This lack of corporate travel would cost the hotel industry an estimated $60 billion in 2021, according to leading economists.

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. In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, hospitality was the first industry impacted and it will be among the last to recover. That is why AHLA is committed to promoting safe travel while also creating a standardized safety experience nationwide through the Safe Stay initiative. With an enhanced set of health and safety protocols designed to provide a safe and clean environment for all hotel guests and employees, hotels across America are ready to welcome back travelers when they are ready to travel. Learn more at



FRLA Partners with the Blue Angels Foundation to Support Wounded Veterans

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Today, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) announced its partnership with the Blue Angels Foundation to raise awareness and funding to support wounded veterans and their families.

Sadly, each day, more than 22 veterans take their own lives due to the loneliness or hopelessness they feel following their disruption to or separation from service due to injury. That is more than 8,000 suicides each year. For comparison and to fully understand the impact, in the 20 years the U.S. has been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have lost 7,000 soldiers in combat. It is estimated that more than 500,000 men and women who have served are living with Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), and more than 52,000 have been wounded in battle. The Blue Angels Foundation plays an essential role in supporting the health and well-being of veterans as they transition back to the civilian community.

“2021 marks the 75th anniversary of FRLA and the 75th anniversary of the Blue Angels,” said Mike Campbell, President of the Blue Angels Foundation. “How fitting is it the Blue Angels Foundation and FRLA are joining hands this year to begin a partnership that will raise awareness around veteran suicide and raise funds that will allow wounded warriors to complete Post-Traumatic Stress protocol. As a nation, we owe so much to our wounded warrior community, servicemembers that laid it all on the line to preserve our Freedom. Please join us in this important effort. Spread the word to save lives and make a donation,100% of which goes towards saving a life.”

“FRLA and our members are incredibly proud to stand with the Blue Angels Foundation to help our treasured veterans, wounded warriors, and their families when they need it the most,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “These brave men and women and their families have sacrificed so much to preserve our freedom and fight for the rights of others, and they need our help as they return or transition from active duty. It is important that we all do what we can to support the Foundation as they provide critical services for our veterans, including counseling, housing, post-traumatic stress, employment, transportation, and other important life skills.”

To learn more and donate to the Blue Angels Foundation as they support our wounded warriors, please visit

About The Blue Angels Foundation: The Blue Angels Foundation (BAF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation with the mission of supporting the nation’s wounded veterans. Led by former members of the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the BAF strives to have a positive impact on resolving post-traumatic stress (PTS) among wounded veterans – saving lives and promoting positive transitions for wounded veterans and their families. The wounded veterans who selflessly volunteered to serve the nation are the same individuals who need the support and resources necessary to provide a path of transition and a life of dignity and fulfillment. Each year, the BAF identifies and sponsors organizations that assist wounded warriors with the four-part continuum of care: transition housing, education, networking for employment and resolving PTS. Completing this continuum of care allows the wounded warrior to rebuild their self-esteem and self-confidence and develop a purpose-driven life in the civilian community. To learn more, visit

About FRLA: The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) is Florida’s premier non-profit hospitality industry trade association. Founded in 1946 as the Florida Restaurant Association, FRLA merged with the Florida Hotel and Motel Association in 2006. FRLA’s more than 10,000 members include independent hoteliers and restaurateurs, household name franchises, theme parks and suppliers. The association’s mission is to protect, educate and promote Florida’s nearly $112 billion hospitality industry which represents 1.5 million employees. Dedicated to safeguarding the needs of the membership, FRLA provides legislative advocacy to ensure the voices of its members are heard and their interests are protected. The association offers regulatory compliance and food safety training through SafeStaff® and FRLA’s subsidiary, RCS Training. The FRLA Educational Foundation provides industry-developed, career-building high school programs throughout the state.




Governor DeSantis Declares State of Emergency for Tropical Storm Elsa, Urges Floridians to Prepare

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 21-150 declaring a state of emergency for 15 counties in the potential path of Tropical Storm Elsa. The Governor is urging Floridians in the southern part of the state to begin preparing for impacts as early as Monday, including heavy rain, flooding and potential storm surge.

By declaring a state of emergency, Governor DeSantis is ensuring that state and local governments have ample time, resources and flexibility to prepare. The State Emergency Operations Center activated to a Level 2 this morning, enhancing the coordination between federal, state and local emergency management agencies.

“This morning, I signed an Executive Order issuing a State of Emergency due to the threat of Tropical Storm Elsa,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “While we continue to provide resources to support the response at Surfside, impacts from Elsa will begin affecting the Florida Keys and portions of southern Florida as early as Monday. All Floridians in the potential path of this storm need to prepare for the risk of isolated tornadoes, storm surge, heavy rainfall and flash flooding.”

Full remarks on the state response and current status of Tropical Storm Elsa were delivered by Governer DeSantis at a press conference this evening. Watch here.


AHLA and AAHOA Join Forces with State Hospitality Associations to Form American Hospitality Alliance

~Will Pool Resources and Efforts to Educate State and Local Lawmakers on Critical Issues Facing Hospitality~

AHLA and AAHOA today announced the creation of the American Hospitality Alliance (AHA) at the International Society of Hotel Associations’ summer meeting. AHA will promote the hospitality industry at the state and local levels by harnessing the power and influence of industry leaders and directing it toward advocacy and political engagement. The strategic partnership between AAHOA, AHLA, and leading state hospitality associations will encourage pooling resources and streamlining efforts to educate lawmakers at the state and local level.

AHLA and AAHOA have long recognized the importance of state and local governments in policy issues affecting hoteliers – including COVID-19 liability, illegal hotels masquerading as short-term rentals, drive-by lawsuits, tax reform, and workforce development. This announcement brings significant benefits to hoteliers across the country as AHA’s advocacy efforts will focus on these issues and more that are key to boosting the hospitality industry’s recovery as the country reopens.

AHLA and AAHOA will co-chair AHA, and an advisory board of seventeen industry representatives, including the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA), and industry staff serving one-year terms will steer the Alliance’s priorities and policy initiatives.