Tag Archives: Florida

Foodservice Industry Week in Brief: February 17

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Here are five stories from the foodservice industry for February 13-17.

Tip-Income Questions with Answers from NRA
From National Restaurant Association, Read Article

As we move into tax season, the National Restaurant Association wanted to be sure some of the major questions were answered.  They put together an article that talks about restaurateurs filing tip-reporting data with the IRS, qualifications for a federal income tax credit on the FICA payroll taxes paid on certain employee tips and a reminder on law requirements.  Read the full article on the NRA website

Senate Approves Lower Minimum Wage Requirements for Servers, Bartenders, etc. in Florida
From Orlando Sentinel, Read Article

Florida workers who rely on tips aren’t too happy about a recent bill that passed through a Senate committee. Why? According to a recent Orlando Sentinel article, the minimum wage requirements will allow restaurants and employers to reduce the current minimum wage of $4.65 an hour to $2.13 an hour. Many workers are infuriated.  The Orlando Sentinel said the bill was proposed by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.  “The organization argues that it’s necessary because the minimum wage, which under state law rises annually to cover inflation, is among the expenses financially crippling restaurants in Florida,” they said.  Read article in full on the Orlando Sentinel website.

Valentine’s Day Specials at Chain Restaurants Image: alvimann/MorgueFile
From L.A. Times, Read Article

Valentine’s day was Tuesday, February 14.  It’s a very popular day for couples to eat dinner out, but with the United States’ current economic situation, not everyone can afford fine dining.  Fast food chains and quick service restaurants picked up the slack and provided great deals for those who didn’t want to cook their own Valentine’s Day dinner.  In a recent L.A. Times article, some of the specials they mentioned were Papa Murphy’s heart-shaped pizza and Dunkin’ Donuts heart-shaped doughnuts.  For more details on what restaurants were planning for, check out this L.A. Times article.

Chicago Schools Will Soon Stock EpiPens
From Education Week, Read Article

The number of food allergies is on the rise.  In a recent Education Week article, they found statistics from the American Academy of Pediatrics that say approximately every one in 25 school-age children has a food allergy.  To help prevent possible life-threatening allergic reactions, Illinois has passed a law and soon all Chicago Public Schools will stock approximately four to six EpiPens each.  They will also train school employees on how to use them.  Read the full article on the Education Week website.

Restaurants Gearing Up for Lent
From Restaurant Hospitality, Read Article

Next Tuesday, Feb. 21, is Mardi Gras–then the following day is when Lent begins.  During Lent, Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays, so many restaurants update their menu to provide Lenten specials.  In a recent Restaurant Hospitality article, they say many fast food chains have a fish sandwich, and those who don’t usually have one will add one.  Then other restaurants will provide other specials during the season with seafood menu items such as tuna and shrimp.

If your restaurant hasn’t considered updating your menu for Lent, Restaurant Hospitality says, “Pick up a couple items that would work within your restaurant’s pricing structure/service scheme and you’ll have a mini-Lenten menu you can promote.” They also say this is a good way to “pump a little life into your restaurant in what can otherwise be a drab time of the year.”  Read the full article on the Restaurant Hospitality website.

All images used from MorgueFile.com.

Dealing With the Effects of the BP Oil Spill

It’s been six months since the BP oil spill began and while it isn’t as heavily highlighted in the news, everyone and everything impacted is still feeling the effects, especially the restaurant business.

Prior to oil spill, Paul Rotner Sr., director of operations of Acme Management Group in Louisiana, described the area in general in good shape and hadn’t felt the effects of the economy as much as other places around the country.

But after the oil spill, everything changed and all five Acme Oyster House restaurants have been impacted.

Four of the locations are in Louisiana (New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Metairie and Covington) and one in Sandestin, Florida.

“We started seeing monetary impact in June and it has been a struggle currently,” Rotner says.  “Since the spill started, it’s an issue for us because we sell a lot of oysters.  20 percent of business and (with the) closures of oyster beds—most of them—and fisheries all shut down, it’s affected us quite a bit.”

Sandestin, Florida is a strong seasonal market and many people just didn’t travel to the area this year.  Rotner says the area has four months of strong business throughout the summer and occupancy levels were 30 to 40 percent lower than normal.

For Louisiana, the downtown area (New Orleans) is a tourist area and had been doing very well.  The restaurant took an eight percent hit just after trending upwards of about five percent (pre-Hurricane Katrina numbers).

“Then local markets, one in Metairie, then one on north shore, Covington and one in Baton Rouge took a huge hit,” Rotner says. “That’s as the press kept showing the spill, even though everything was being tested by five different agencies regularly, the fear got into the mind of the people and (business) dropped 18 percent—and will be rough for people to gain that back.”

Seafood in general has been severely affected from the oil spill and Rotner has a lot of product issues trying to get oysters.  To keep oil out of marshes, the Mississippi River was opened to keep oil out but too much fresh water killed some of the product.

“A mini sack of oysters is 40 lbs. per sack and had 110 useable oysters,” Rotner explains. “We’re lucky to get 60 right now.”

And even out of the 60 they can use, the product is subpar.

Sandestin location, Photo from Discover Emerald Coast website

While sales have showed a slight increase for the Acme Oyster House restaurants, sales still aren’t back to normal.  When reflecting on everything, Rotner isn’t sure how long it will take for things to return to normal.

“We don’t know what the outcome of the oyster industry will be,” Rotner says.  “Just from the fresh water impact—damage wise—for oyster beds, it could take 18 months to get it out of the water. (It) could be backed up for a year and a struggle next year.  We just don’t know for sure.”

Rotner wants the people who aren’t coming out of fear to know the product is safe. He says Louisiana’s Departments of Health and Hospitals and Wild Life and Fisheries, the government, Centers for Disease Control and other groups have been testing the waters every day and haven’t found anything in oysters.

“I eat them every day and haven’t had a problem.”

What the Acme Oyster House restaurants (along with other restaurants affected) need most is people to help get back to normal.

“It’s in the back of their mind,” Rotner says about people not coming to their restaurants.  “Hopefully BP and the government will get us the money for the advertising to bring people back.  It took about three years after Katrina; I hope it doesn’t take that long.”

To learn more about Acme Oyster House, visit their website here or visit acmeoyster.com.