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The National Restaurant Association released the following statement from Sean Kennedy, executive vice president of Public Affairs, in response to the U.S. House of Representatives passing the Build Back Better Act:
“We are disappointed that the House passed the Build Back Better Act without including the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act. The last few months have been a stark reminder that restaurants are still on a pandemic rollercoaster. The loss of consumer confidence because of the delta variant, combined with rising food prices, supply chain shortages, and higher workforce pay created a perfect storm that wiped out our rebuilding momentum. Passing this bill without including RRF replenishment leaves thousands of small business restaurants teetering on the brink of closure.
“We are also concerned with several elements included in the final bill. At the beginning of the year, we specifically asked Congress to not pass any legislation that would harm restaurants as they rebuild. However, this bill newly applies the net investment income tax (NIIT) to active business income for pass-through businesses—which includes many small business restaurants. The last thing that restaurants and other small businesses across the nation need at this time is to be saddled with an additional $252 billion in new taxes.
“On top of that, the bill throws out 85 years of established business and labor law by imposing new and enhanced fines and personal liability for directors and officers. If this change stands, a business that made inadvertent or technical errors could face fines high enough to put them into bankruptcy. Workers deserve protections in the workplace and bad actors who violate labor law should be held accountable. But this change is essentially using a bludgeon to intimidate and punish businesses that make inadvertent errors or who believe they are acting within their legal rights and in accordance with labor law.
“We hope the Senate will address these concerns as the legislation moves forward.
“The final bill does include some provisions we recognize will help address workforce concerns across the economy including free universal Pre-K and expanded childcare subsidies. We are also pleased that the House recognized the value of apprenticeship programs like the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundations’ Hospitality Sector Registered Apprenticeship, Restaurant Youth Registered Apprenticeship, and their apprenticeship opportunities for military personnel. The increased funding for programs like these will provide opportunity and training for people ready to advance their careers.”
Support recovering local restaurants by shopping on Small Business Saturday
Shoppers worried about finding the perfect gifts that won’t get delayed in transit should stock up on restaurant gift cards because according to new research from the National Restaurant Association, more than 60% of people are hoping to receive a restaurant gift card this holiday season.
“Whether they want to eat out or order in, gift cards will work for everyone on your list; you can get them in any amount and technology makes them easy to share so you never have to worry about them being late or getting lost,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of Research for the National Restaurant Association. “People may be reluctant to give a gift card because they feel they’re too impersonal, but what you’re giving is the flexibility and opportunity for them to choose what they want. Plus, they’re a great option if you’re looking to give an experience rather than a material item.”
While you’re making your shopping lists over the next few weeks, keep these numbers in mind:
For people who are looking to shop local or to support small businesses, restaurants are a great option.
“Gift cards are easy to purchase at any time, but Small Business Saturday on November 27 is a good time to start. More than 70% of restaurants are small businesses that support the local economy with jobs and provide a gathering place for everyone. Many of these restaurants were hit hard by the pandemic and are struggling to rebuild,” said Riehle.
The National Restaurant Association conducted an online survey of 1,027 adults Nov. 12-14, 2021, asking questions about their perceptions of restaurant gift cards. See the finding here.
Restaurant customers can expect to see health taking center stage on restaurant menus in 2022. The National Restaurant Association today released its annual What’s Hot Culinary Forecast, which offers a detailed look at the topics, trends, and products expected to drive restaurant menus in the coming year across a variety of categories including daypart occasions, menu categories, beverages, flavors, global inspirations, packaging/off-premises trends and industry macro-trends.
After demand for comfort food surged during the height of the pandemic, consumers are refocusing on better-for-you options, with foods that are believed to have immunity-boosting qualities and plant-based sandwiches making up three of the Top 10 Trends for 2022. Plant-based proteins are growing increasingly popular on menus and less expensive cuts of protein, such as thighs instead of wings, will have a greater presence in the year to come.
Sustainability will continue to influence menus and how restaurants make decisions across the board. From reusable and recyclable packaging to zero-waste options, restaurants are continuing to prioritize sustainable initiatives. As consumers continue to utilize off-premises options in all dayparts, restaurants are looking to translate their dine-in experience outside the four walls of the restaurant with thoughtful packaging that maintains food quality, retains temperature, and is tamper-proof.
“In addition to a return to health-focused menu offerings and more eco-friendly, improved off-premises packaging, all of which rated high in the top trends, we’re expecting operators to look across their menus for transformative opportunities,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of Research for the Association. “Look for trends that fuse the traditional meal daypart items with other dayparts and an increasing popularity of snacking and its allied items. Also, with the popularity of cocktails-to-go during the pandemic, restaurants will look to expand both alcoholic and non-alcoholic craft beverage options.”
Menus will become more refined and streamlined going into the year ahead, while chefs anticipate alcohol-infused desserts, globally inspired items, and even upscale potato chips to find spots on the menu.
The What’s Hot survey was conducted in October 2021. More than 350 professional chefs of the American Culinary Federation rated 109 food items and culinary concepts compiled by Association experts and Technomic’s Menu Research & Insights Division. Download the full report here.
After participating in a meeting of the White House Supply Chain Disruption Task Force weeks ago, the Association—in a letter to the White House on Monday—addressed the effects of the supply chain bottleneck on the restaurant industry and offered immediate and long-term solutions to revitalize the industry to pre-pandemic levels and restore restaurants as vital contributors to their communities. In addition to urging the Administration to use any tools at its disposal to remedy the nation’s worker shortage and quickly stop the current backlog, the Association also called for:
The program showcases dietician-approved, better-for-you menu options for children at participating restaurants
The National Restaurant Association today unveiled a major modernization of its Kids LiveWellSM initiative that makes it easier for caregivers and children to choose ‘better-for-you’ meals when dining out. The program, originally launched in 2011, is a successful industry solution to providing a wider range of menu options for families. This update brings the Kids LiveWell participation requirements in line with today’s nutrition science.
“For nearly a decade, chefs have identified ‘kids nutrition’ in the top 20 food trends annually, underscoring the importance of our youngest patrons and the choices their parents are seeking from restaurants,” said Marvin Irby, Interim President & CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “As the industry continues to learn more about nutrition, we’re proud to offer this updated initiative to reflect the industry’s increasing health standards and ensure that caregivers can be confident Kids LiveWell menu options are delicious and nutritious.”
Restaurant operators with qualifying meals and sides certified by Kids LiveWell are validated by an approved third-party registered dietitian. Menu items that are certified to meet the Kids LiveWell criteria will help caregivers increase a child’s consumption of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy while limiting unhealthy fats, added sugars, and sodium.
Key updates to the Kids LiveWell certifying criteria include:
“Nutrition science has changed in the last 10 years, so we worked with the Association and restaurant representatives to identify the needed and impactful changes that should be made to bring the program up-to-date,” said Maggie Gentile, MS, RD, LD, vice president of food and nutrition policy at Food Directions. “We also worked in collaboration with public health and consumer advocates to ensure the more stringent program aligns with the latest edition of the USDA and HHS Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The food-based requirements and nutrient thresholds also closely align with the criteria for the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI).”
Nearly 13,000 restaurants across the country have Kids LiveWell approved menu items. Restaurants with meals and sides certified in the original program must have any existing meals re-certified by Jan. 1, 2022.
“The Association is invested in helping the industry find solutions to issues related to health and nutrition,” Irby said. “Caregivers and children are more educated than ever about the food they choose for their lifestyles. So, we hope that restaurants of all sizes find value in participating in this free program and look forward to expanding its reach.”
Caregivers with more questions about the Kids LiveWell updates will find answers here and restaurants wanting to find out how to get certified will find all the information they need here.
Praise for Kid LiveWell:
Chef Stephen Bulgarelli, chef culinary officer of Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill + Bar:
“Applebee’s is proud to support the National Restaurant Association and Kids LiveWell 2.0. All Applebee’s menus include meals that fall within the Association’s guidelines to provide healthy options for parents to choose for their children.”
Kathy Higgins, chief executive officer, Alliance for a Healthier Generation:
“The Alliance for a Healthier Generation applauds the National Restaurant Association and its members for expanding the Kids LiveWell program and taking additional steps to increase the visibility of ‘better-for-you’ options. This type of commitment and effort is critical to making the systemic shifts that are needed to ensure that children and families have a chance to live healthier lives.”
Sara Ribakove, senior policy associate, Center for Science in the Public Interest:
“Families want healthier options for their kids when they dine out. The updates to the Kids LiveWell program can help to drive change towards healthier kids’ meals and increase awareness of healthy options at a greater number of restaurants. The shift to requiring healthier default beverages for all participating restaurants and strengthening the nutrition criteria reflects progress towards creating a healthier food environment for kids.”
Nancy E. Roman, president and CEO of Partnership for a Healthier America:
“Covid-19 underscored the importance of food in building health. So, there is no better time for the restaurant industry to focus on the health of their offerings. Refreshing the Kids LiveWell program is an important step."
Steve Sturm, executive chef, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill:
“We are proud to be a part of the Kids LiveWell story and their continued effort in prompting healthier menu options that ultimately help parents feel confident in their kids’ food choices.”
Ype Von Hengst, vice president, culinary operations, Silver Diner:
“Silver Diner and its brands have been long-time supporters of healthy eating for kids and families. The restaurant has served as a national model for innovation in healthy eating. Throughout our initiatives, we have been supporters of the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program. We’re excited to continue to support this worthwhile program.”
Margo G. Wootan, president, MXG Strategies; adjunct faculty, American University, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Health Studies:
“We hope the updated Kids LiveWell criteria will encourage all restaurants to make healthier beverages the default with children’s meals and drop soda, lemonade and other sugary drinks from kids’ menus. The Kids LiveWell updates acknowledge that a healthy meal should include a vegetable or fruit and that 1% or fat-free milk should replace varieties high in saturated fat (i.e., whole and 2%).
“A national poll reveals that over 80% of parents want restaurants to increase healthy options and decrease unhealthy items on children’s menus. The experiences of restaurants that have shifted to healthier food and beverage items show that families want healthy options for their kids and that they’re good for business.
“We’re pleased that the National Restaurant Association has updated its Kids LiveWell program. Since children get a quarter of their calories from eating out, all restaurants should make the children’s menu healthy to support children and their parents.”