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Archive for January, 2009

Shane’s Rib Shack and Planet Smoothie Under New Management

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Edmonds Capital, LLC announced that it is teaming with the management teams of Shane’s Rib Shack, a national rib shack and barbecue concept founded by Shane Thompson in 2002, and Planet Smoothie, a national smoothie concept founded by Martin Sprock in 1995, to purchase each of the businesses. Both companies will retain their management teams and will operate under the holding company of Petrus Brands, Inc. in Atlanta, GA. In addition, founder Shane Thompson becomes president of Shane’s Rib Shack and Chris Morocco, who has been the chief development officer for both brands, becomes the new CEO of Petrus Brands. Arlington Capital Advisors acted as exclusive financial advisor to Shane’s Rib Shack and Planet Smoothie in the transaction.

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Georgia Restaurant Association’s 2009 Political Outlook

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

January/February 2009

By Ron Wolf, CFBE Chief Executive Officer of Georgia Restaurant Association

The state of Georgia is in a financial crisis, and the cities within are not far behind. In 2009, state lawmakers will be working diligently to make cuts in every program and service, while also trying to find ways to increase revenues into the state budget. However, the consequences of a democratic president and congress could hold greater weight than even the major budget issues that loom overhead. Although there was a lot of change nationally, there was little to no change in the state of Georgia. With only a few local runoffs and one major U.S. Senate runoff, not enough Georgians believed new party leadership would instantly solve our problems. Yet, there could be a backlash in the South, and if there is, it will rear its head in the state legislature. Fear of belts tightening, job losses and no recovery in sight could push the state to dig deeper into social issues and issues yet to be dealt with on the federal level. Immigration, gun control, gay marriage bans and the like could all come into play in the 2009 legislative session in response to the party change on the federal level. With a new majority leader in the Senate who has spoken out on these issues countless times, for the first four months of the year we could see a push for legislators to draw lines in the sand according to their beliefs. Also, the presence of a wide-open gubernatorial campaign with no clear frontrunner, and many legislators’ eyes on more power and bigger offices, could tilt the session toward addressing value-oriented issues. Here are just a few of the issues that may surface (or resurface in the case of immigration reform) during the 2009 legislative session in Georgia.

  • Immigration: Because of the issues in Cherokee County and the new Majority Leader Chip Rogers in the Senate, this issue must be moved to the top of our priority list. Business licenses, fines and jail time could all be on the table if this fight comes to a head on the state level.
  • Budget/taxes: The state had a $600-million shortfall for the fiscal year 2008 and a larger one is expected for the fiscal year 2009. A lot of attention will be paid to the cuts that will be made in the areas of education, services and health care. Regarding the restaurant industry, major cuts have already been made in the Department of Human Resources (DHR), which regulates the Georgia Food Code and the health inspections throughout Georgia. Although local jurisdictions are responsible for the physical inspection, there are fewer people at DHR to effectively train the environmental health specialists throughout Georgia. This impact with a newer code, new letter grading system and inspections being conducted by those who lack the proper training, could lead to disaster for many restaurants throughout Georgia. Topped with many local and county governments that are being forced to make cuts in a variety of departments, we must remain diligent in expressing the importance of training and education in this area.

We must also be aware that the lawmakers will be looking for new revenue to supplement the state budget. Currently, there is not a state preparedfood tax or a state alcohol tax. We have not seen any proposals for implementing new taxes on these items, but must remain prepared to challenge these taxes with the help of other associations and entities that would be affected by such a tax increase.

Local City and County Outlook 2009
With a new president and congress and a state House that will be battling its own budget woes, the counties and cities in Georgia are looking for additional ways to raise revenue for their municipalities. Since they cannot levy taxes in Georgia without General Assembly approval, we must be on the lookout for additional fees and licenses as “revenue raisers” that will affect the industry.

  • Pouring permits: Multiple cities have added pouring permits standards for employees that serve alcohol. Usually, these permits are valid for one year and are transferable; however, some have been structured to require a new permit for each facility in which an employee operates.
  • Alcohol license and fees: The state of Georgia has a cap on the amount of money that a city can charge for an alcohol license within the state. However, cities are becoming more creative in finding ways to add additional fees to management staff for permits to manage facilities that serve alcohol, as well as requiring additional alcohol training courses for employees.
  • Licenses and permits: The licensing and permitting process throughout cities and counties in Georgia are riddled with problems. In 2009, we will continue to work with the city of Atlanta to craft legislation and develop standards that will improve the speed and efficiency of getting any permit within the city of Atlanta. If we can improve the process in Atlanta, we can do it anywhere.
  • Local elections: There are a number of local elect ions throughout Georgia in 2009. Establishing a grassroots presence throughout the state on the local level will aid in our ability to impact the statewide elections in 2010. We must get candidates in front of the restaurant community to ask questions and increase the accountability to promises made while campaigning for office. Many of the issues that restaurants have start at the local level. Working to establish leadership that is aware of an active restaurant industry will aid our progress for years to come.

Federal Outlook 2009
January 20, 2009, a new president and congress will take shape. We will see major policy shifts immediately when President-Elect Obama takes office. Based on his campaign platform, we may see card check, paid sick leave, higher taxes on business, a bipartisan small business health care program and many other issues that were buried for the last eight years. With the $700-billion financial industry bailout, the U.S. auto industry requesting $25 billion for their own bailout and another economic stimulus package proposed before the end of 2008, congressional spending is way up. President-Elect Obama has already told the American people that in order to get the economy back in the right place, a lot of spending must happen in the beginning and has asked for patience from the American people while the economy recovers. How much patience they have will be evident in the 2010-midterm elections. However, in the meantime, other issues could end up costing the restaurant industry even more money to combat and then implement. If the Obama plan works, businesses will spend more to comply with new programs and laws, but consumers will have more money to spend to support businesses, so it should balance out in the end. Where that end will be, only time will tell.

  • Card Check: The Employee Free Choice Act, or the Card Check bill, is top priority for the labor movement. This legislation allows for unions to organize workers with a simple card and a signature. This legislation removed the secret ballot provision and allows for employees to be organized anywhere, and not just at the place of business. If this legislation makes it through both houses, it will be signed into law and many large retailers will be some of the first to be organized throughout the country. The threat is low for restaurants at the onset, yet with more than 13 million employees, the time for our industry will come.
  • RESPECT Act: Even if Card Check gets stalled in the Senate, the Re-Empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Tradeworkers (RESPECT) Act would amend the National Labor Relations Act, which would modify the definition of supervisor, thereby making them eligible for collective bargaining. If this passes, it would make them eligible for union organizing.
  • Federal minimum wage: President-Elect Obama called for a minimum wage of $9.50 per hour, indexed for inflation. The federal rate is already scheduled to increase to $7.25 on July 24, 2009. There is a great possibility for another minimum wage battle in the 111th Congress.
  • Health care: The Family Medical Leave Act is expected to be expanded to include mandated sick pay. This has been a fight for small businesses across the country as it has included part-time and tipped employees. The SHOP Act and CHOICE Act both have NRA support and are bipartisan efforts that may push back mandated paid sick leave efforts.

With all this looming in 2009, now more than ever before, your financial and grassroots support of the GRA as “the voice” of Georgia’s foodservice industry is paramount.

Remember, you either have a seat at the table or you’re on the menu. The choice is yours.

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Dine-Out For A Safer Atlanta

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Atlanta restaurants and businesses will be participating in a Dine Out event on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009. Proceeds from this event will be donated to Crime Stoppers Atlanta and go directly to increasing the reward for information leading to the apprehension and arrest of the individuals involved in the murder of John Henderson at Standard Food & Spirits in Grant Park a few weeks ago.

Restaurants, bars, and other businesses that are interested in participating in the event should contact Rubi Cuautle. Participating businesses are encouraged to donate 20% of their profits from the evening of the Dine Out, however any amount donated will be accepted.

Atlantans Together Against Crime (ATAC) has been established in response to the wave of violent crime in Atlanta. Those interested may add their name to the mailing list to help raise awareness to the rise in violent crime as well as to take action with Atlanta’s lawmakers. Also, there is a Facebook group for sharing accounts of violent crime that effect those within the community, as well as posting updates on news, protests, and other tools to help bring awareness to this issue. The mailing list will be used to share information on gatherings, protests, and lobbying efforts to fight cutbacks.

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Top 10 Trends – NRA’s What’s Hot Chef’s Survey

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

The top 10 hot trends in the 2009 National Restaurant Association What’s Hot Chef’s Survey

  1. Locally grown produce 89%
  2. Bite-size/mini desserts 83%
  3. Organic produce 82%
  4. Nutritionally balanced children’s dishes 81%
  5. New/fabricated cuts of meat 78% (e.g. Denver steak, pork _at iron, bone-in Tuscan veal chop)
  6. Fruit/vegetable children’s side items 74%
  7. Superfruits 73% (e.g. acai, goji berry, mangosteen)
  8. Small plates/tapas/mezze/dim sum 73%
  9. Micro-distilled/artisan liquor 73%
  10. Sustainable seafood 71%
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Tin Lizzy’s and Cellar 54 Open

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Tin Lizzy’s Taqueria and Cantina announced the opening of its second location in Grant Park. The bottom floor of Tin Lizzy’s is more than 1,500 square feet of dining space and a full bar. There is also a 500-square-foot outdoor patio facing the Oakland Cemetery. Tin Lizzy’s plans to expand the patio in spring 2009 to include more seating, another full-service bar and a restroom.

Andy McKoski, co-owner of Tin Lizzy’s says “the combination of Grant Park brands like Six Feet Under, The Standard and Agave, which have already proven popular and successful in the market, and new-to-market brands, such as Tin Lizzy’s, offers an exciting mix of dining options that will further establish Grant Park as a compelling social destination.” For more information, visit www.tinlizzyscantina.com.

Cellar 56 announced its grand opening at 56 East Andrews Drive. Leading the kitchen is Chef Paul Agnelli, former executive chef of The Capital Grill and Van Gogh’s. Cellar 56 will offer fifty-six wines. Thirty of these selections are sourced from boutique wineries on small allocation. The remaining 26 wine choices are available by the bottle.

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GRA – Atlanta City Council, Outdoor Dining Ordinance

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

January 6, 2009 at Taco Mac, Lindberg Center. For more information, visit www.garestaurants.org

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Fundamentals of Organic Farming & Gardening

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

January 31 -  at Cane Creek Farm, Cumming, GA / Lynn Pugh 770-889-3793.

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International Poultry Expo

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

January 28-30 – International Poultry Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center, www.poultryegg.org.

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Coastal Chapter Meeting

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

January 28 Рat Wild Wing Caf̩, Savannah, www.garestaurants.org.

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ServSafe® Food Safety Manager’s Certification – en Espanol

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

January 26 – ServSafe® Certification in Spanish from 7:30am-7:30pm at The Defoor Centre.  Visit www.garestaurants.org for more information.

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