The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation is pleased to announce the election of a new Chair and Board Member to its Board of Directors, who oversee the mission and goals of the LRAEF. They assumed their new roles January 1, 2020, each for a two-year term.
Matt Massey of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers will serve as the new Chair of the Foundation. Massey is the company’s Regional Vice President and responsible for nearly 100 restaurants throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas. He has worked with the company for more than 12 years.
“As the Chair of the LRAEF, it is an honor to promote the restaurant industry and make a meaningful difference in the lives of others,” said Massey. “Our education and training programs support and inspire students to discover a passion for foodservice – and it is through this investment in tomorrow’s leaders that we can ensure a robust and vibrant industry for generations to come.”
Craig Dennison of Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots in New Orleans will serve as the Foundation’s new Secretary/Treasurer. Dennison has been at the Fair Grounds since 1990 and oversees its food and beverage program.
The LRAEF, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was founded in 1995 and is governed by a Board of Directors made up of restaurants, industry experts and educators in the hospitality industry.
The Board of Directors is responsible for overseeing the LRAEF programs, including ProStart and the LRAEF Scholarship Fund. ProStart is a nationwide, two-year program for high school students that develops the best and brightest talent into tomorrow’s industry leaders. The Board of Directors also awards LRAEF scholarships annually to students pursuing a culinary education. Since 2010, the LRAEF has awarded nearly $500,000.
The LRAEF is appreciative of the support of the nine LRA chapters who support its mission throughout the year and its annual partners: Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Acme Oyster House, Auto-Chlor System, National Restaurant Association, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation, Baton Rouge Epicurean Society, Performance Foodservice, Emeril Lagasse Foundation, Fore!Kids Foundation, McIlhenny Company, PJ’s Coffee, B&G Food Enterprises, Atmos Energy, Sysco and Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association is pleased to announce its 2020 volunteer leadership with Peter Scalfani as its Chair. Scalfani is the owner of Down South Hospitality and a partner in Phil’s Oyster Bar & Seafood Restaurant in Baton Rouge. He is Past Chair of the LRA Education Foundation, served as Chapter President of the Greater Baton Rouge Chapter and has chaired several LRA board committees. He represented the LRA on the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. In 2014, he was awarded one of LRA’s highest honors and named Restaurateur of the Year.
“The LRA is fortunate to be led by individuals actively involved in the restaurant industry,” explained Stan Harris, LRA President and CEO. “Those who serve as officers or directors not only successfully run their own businesses but have volunteered countless hours in leadership to our organization. The core of what we do is to advocate for reasonable and predictable regulations that could impact our industry. Our board, whose members are statewide, provides a solid grass roots base.”
Listed as follows are the 2020 officers of the LRA:
The following members were elected to serve as an LRA Director for a one-year term in 2020:
Greater Baton Rouge Chapter:
Greater New Orleans Chapter:
What a decade it's been! We hope 2020 brings you success and happiness. We love serving this industry! The LRA office will be closing at 3 p.m. today and will reopen on Thursday, Jan. 2 for normal business hours.
The LRA office will be closed Tuesday, December 24 and Wednesday, December 25 for the Christmas holiday. We hope you all have a blessed holiday season!
It’s holiday season, the prime time to sell gift cards to your restaurant. Are yours set out in a highly visible display?
Just-released research from the National Restaurant Association reports:
Our research also found that 40% of consumers save their gift cards for special occasions while another 40% make use of them within a few weeks; only 20% use them right away.
Gift cards can bring out the big spender in your guests, too. According to our data, more than a third of diners will order more expensive food and beverages when a gift card is in the mix. In some ways, your restaurant gift card pulls revenue twice, once when it’s sold and again when it’s redeemed and they end up spending more!
“More than 90% of American adults say they enjoy going out to restaurants,” says Hudson Riehle, our Association’s senior vice president of research. “One in two American adults say they frequent restaurants daily. There are ample opportunities for diners to use their gift cards at the more than 1 million restaurant locations around the country.”
Want to see that stash of gift cards dwindle? Here are 5 tips:
'Tis the season to start preparing for family, friends, holiday shopping and holiday gatherings.
This is also the time to be sure your restaurant is front and center in customers’ minds during all things “holiday” this season. Remember, there are only four ways to increase restaurant sales:
Here are some holiday-inspired ideas in these four areas to increase restaurant sales:
Increase the number of new customers
How can you attract customers that don’t know you yet? Be where they are.
This is the season for holiday shopping – passing out menus or flyers in front of nearby stores could be a great way to attract hungry shoppers to your restaurant to refuel. You can work with local retail shops to offer a special for their customers. Customers can just bring in the flyer to receive a special offer.
It is also the season of holiday get-togethers, but don’t limited your thinking to family and friends. Most area businesses will have a holiday party or team lunches for their employees, whether it’s catered in or in-person. Send samples and catering menus to nearby offices or places of business, inviting them to try your restaurant for their holiday parties, lunches and dinners.
You can also have a “by invitation only” reception for local businesses to try your catering and check out your restaurant. This is a great way to attract new customers and book their parties.
The time may be right to try out targeted ads on social media. You can target based on interests and activities, as well as geographies, to find those employees in nearby offices or those planning to shop ‘til they drop on certain days.
And remember, Cyber Monday is a big day, you can still be where the shoppers are with online ordering and delivery.
Increase frequency with existing customers
Give them a reason to come back again soon.
Seasonal menus are a big draw. Offer something new and exciting for a limited time that customers can’t normally get at your restaurant, and be sure your staff is well-versed on the items.
Introduce a recurring, yet changing, theme for the holiday season (think along the lines of “12 Weeks of Christmas”). Each week leading up to the holiday can feature a different special, or a different reason to come back in, to try something new or to collect something new.
Be giving. Customers who bring in a new “Toys for Tots” or food drive donation can get an incentive that is good for the following week only.
Be sure that your restaurant is top of mind with customers and that members of the your dining loyalty program are reminded of what they can get when they dine with you.
Increase spend per ticket
Increase the visibility of your seasonal offerings to increase customer interest and spend.
This is the time to advertise gift cards – they make a great gift, they pull in new customers for you, and they increase spend at the time of purchase. Offer up a small gift card for free with the purchase of others as a gift to the purchaser, as well. It will get them to come back soon, too.
Seasonal drinks, from pumpkin spiced lattes to spiked hot chocolates, are a perfect add-on to any order. They are on trend, they look good and they smell even better. Be sure your servers know to mention they are only around for a limited time and there is visible signage in the restaurant repeating that.
Pass out free samples of a seasonal or warming appetizer while customers wait to be seated or wait to order. When they are the most hungry, it can tempt an extra order.
Be sure your dining loyalty program rewards bigger tickets: the more customers spend, the more they can earn.
Always remember to upsell: holidays are the perfect time to get the desserts flowing. This is also a good time to run a contest with your employees to push those items, they would certainly welcome the chance to win a gift card for their holiday shopping, as well.
Increase rate of table turn/flow through
Don’t risk a good customer experience, but be mindful of easily avoidable pitfalls.
Properly staffed and trained seasonal employees are a key to this success in the holiday season. Be sure they are in place and trained before the holiday rush for optimal service and efficiency during the season.
Utilize catering/party space properly for table availability during busiest time, such as breakfast, lunch and dinner time on Black Friday.
Does a seasonal express lane for carry-out make sense? Do you have enough registers or POS systems in place? Now is the time to evaluate, so you are prepared during the busy season.
Remember, there are only four ways to increase restaurant sales, but there are numerous tactics to utilize within each! Get creative this holiday season and get a plan in place before the season is upon us.
The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation is pleased to announce the application period for its annual scholarship program is now open. The scholarships are awarded to individuals interested in pursuing a career in the culinary and/or hospitality industry.
Since the fund’s inception in 2009, the LRAEF has awarded over $500,000 in scholarships to 233 Louisiana individuals to further their post-secondary education. While these individuals have experience in a variety of roles, in different parts of the state, they all share an enthusiasm and optimism for the future of the restaurant industry.
“Each year we recognize a remarkable group with incredible potential,” Julie Talbot, LRAEF Executive Director Julie Talbot. “As the demand for highly skilled applicants continues to be a challenge for independent restaurant operators, our LRAEF scholars will be well-positioned for a successful career in the industry.”
“I am so grateful to the LRA for their support,” said 2019 scholar Dustin Rockwell. “It’s a relief to have these scholarship dollars so I can focus on my education and not how I’m going to pay my bills from month to month. I’m looking forward to completing my education and getting back out into the workforce to serve my community to the best of my abilities.”
Another 2019 scholar, Brock Nichols, was even chosen to prepare and serve food at the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
The 2020 scholarships include the Jim Funk Scholarship, LRAEF ProStart Scholarship, LRA Board Fund Scholarship, LRA CENLA Chapter Scholarship and the Louisiana Seafood Scholarship. The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m., January 31, 2020, and scholars will be announced in early spring. Applicants only need to submit one application for consideration. For eligibility criteria and to apply, click here.
For more information, contact the LRAEF office at 504-454-2277 or LRAEF@lra.org.
The LRA office will be closed Thursday, November 28 and Friday, November 29 for the Thanksgiving holiday. We are grateful that we are able to serve you-- out members and Louisiana's restaurant industry. Have a happy Thanksgiving!
In 1983, Ema Haq traveled 8712 miles alone in pursuit of an American education. He landed on the opposite side of the globe in the most unlikely place: the heart of Cajun Country—Lafayette, Louisiana. Accordians and alligators were a different reality from his mostly Muslim Bangladesh, a nation the size of Louisiana located between two sections of north India. Bangladesh teeters on the Tropic of Cancer with 150 million people—half the entire population of the U.S., with 2700 people per square mile, and always at the mercy of cyclones and floods. Most Bangladeshis must survive on less than two dollars a day. Haq fortunately came from a family led by a respected entrepreneurial father whose work spanned a military career and public sector achievement.
Remarkably, the family’s good fortune never blinded them to the crushing poverty outside their door—quite the opposite. They still utilize their abundance to bring nourishment and encouragement to everyone they know.
“If you talked to my father for more than five minutes, the conversation turned to helping others,” says Haq. “If you give him five dollars or a million dollars, he’d take what he needed and give the rest away to charity.”
“My mother was like that too,” he continues. “She died at age 63 doing charity work until the end. We never ate a meal without sharing it with someone who didn’t have enough.”
Teaching people to fish, not only helping them eat, was his father’s goal. “He constantly encouraged everyone, not just his children, to strive for higher education. His top priority was helping underprivileged people to rise from poverty.”
They sent their child to an American high school in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, where they raised the family. When it came time for college, someone told Haq that Louisiana and Bangladesh had similarly sweltering climates. This intrigued him. Although he had never traveled before, he followed his impulse toward the U.S., landing almost exactly 180 degrees around the globe (Dhakar sits at 90 degrees east and Lafayette at 92 degrees west).
“My older sister and brother had both gone to Brussels to study and remain in Europe. Because I was the youngest child, my parents wanted me to stay in Bangladesh. I wanted to come to the U.S. for my education, and they ended up respecting this,” recalls Haq.
With that choice—and hard work—Haq struck gold. Attending the University of Louisiana at Lafayette helped him dance with two careers: mechanical engineering and foodservice.
“I couldn’t even cook rice when I came from Bangladesh,” laughs Haq. “To pay for school, my first job was washing dishes at the University cafeteria. Then I worked at a bus boy, a cook and a waiter. Later I managed the restaurant Shangri La. After graduation, I worked in the oil fields as a full-time mechanical engineer at Mallard Drilling, which is now Parking Drilling. I opened my restaurant Bailey’s in 1993.”
The most widely known story about Haq is that when he found himself alone on his first Thanksgiving facing a foodless weekend (the cafeteria where he worked was closed), his friend’s mother insisted that he join their family at their home. She even insisted that they pick him up at his apartment.
“I didn’t know what the holiday really was, and I was really just a college student happy to have a few days off, when my friend Jeff Jardell called with the invitation from his mother Barbara Jardell,” remembers Haq. “Jeff picked me up, and I still remember walking in to that house everyone seated around the table, smiling at me, waiting for me. So I ate! It was wonderful.”
This generosity – complete with transportation – serves as the model for Haq’s annual Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts for anyone without access to a traditional holiday meal. Typically he and his volunteer staff serve about 300 people.
He also provides transportation for folks to partake of these free, full-service dinners. Another 400 additional meals are delivered to elderly in their homes.
Barbara Jardell has been a constant inspiration since that first Thanksgiving and remains Haq’s adopted “mom.” She also volunteers for every dinner he offers.
“We’ve been doing this for 27 years,” says Haq. “All our friends help that day and some of the staff. Acadiana Ambulance Service helps with the transportation, friends drive and we also use my vehicle. We usually need about 15-15 drivers.”
Haq also teaches table manners to children at seven Lafayette public schools. He has a standing offer with principals to invite to lunch children who deserve special rewards.
“They can be the best reader, the most improved,” states Haq. “I invite the school superintendent. We have lunch with these students to encourage them—any way to impact these children’s lives. When you grow up in a poor country, to impact people’s lives, you know that it takes more than just a little bit. In our own community we need so many things. If we do nothing, these ‘at-risk’ kids are going to be bigger risks in 10 years. Most of the kids I talk to have never had the means to eat in a restaurant like mine.”
But Haq’s generosity doesn’t even stop there. At Christmastime these school principals discreetly let him know which families are the poorest so Haq and his wife, Zakia, can help.
“We give meals, groceries, clothes, shoes, household needs and sometimes bikes for about 20 families. We keep our eyes open for the best deals on things and gather everything up to give away each Christmas.”
Haq believes he has an obligation to his young employees too.
“I tell them, ‘There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to buy me out in 10 years. I started out where you are—you can do anything if you try in this country.’ I tell them they can be engineers, teachers, and doctors if they work hard.”
He must be doing something right; his kitchen staff has a five-year turnover average.
Haq says that Bailey’s Seafood and Grill, created while he was still a full-time mechanical engineer, will always be his baby. But he also owns three additional businesses: Ema’s Restaurant, which serves down-home Southern food like chicken-fried steak; Bailey’s Support Services, a foodservice vendor operating cafes and cafeterias within large corporations; and Bailey’s Offshore Catering, serving hot meals on about 35 offshore and inland oil platforms, drilling rigs, boats, ships and barges in the both the U.S. and internationally (operations reach as far as Malaysia).
Still, nestled within all of his success stories is his original home. “The name Bailey’s comes from the white flower that is the national symbol for Bangladesh,” explains Haq. “We use that flower in our logo too.”
The foyer and banquet room of Bailey’s Seafood and Grill are lined with medals and plaques. Just how many? Around 31, he says, with 15 gold—including Best of Show for the New Orleans Culinary Classic in 1998. Newspaper articles are mounted and displayed, always highlighting Haq’s charity and community service.
In 2007, the Louisiana Restaurant Association named him its Restaurateur of the Year. That same year, he received the Nobel Prize for public and community service, the Jefferson Award. “I was so honored,” he says. “My wife and kids all came with me to Washington, D.C. to accept the award. I love this country and I love Lafayette. Everyone has been so good to me. I want to do everything I can to make this world a better place.”
The Louisiana Restaurant Association Southwest Chapter held its fifth Annual Southwest Legacy Dinner on Monday, Nov. 11 at The Pioneer Club in Lake Charles. Last year’s honorees, Doug Gehrig and Gerald Mack presented this year’s award before a packed house to Ricky and Nancy Perioux, longtime husband-and-wife owners of Pat’s of Henderson.
Their family legacy was born in 1948, when Agnes and Pat Huval opened their first steak and seafood restaurant in the small town of Henderson, Louisiana. In 1982, the Huvals’ daughter and son-in-law, Nancy and Ricky, became the caretakers of the legacy when they built their own Cajun restaurant in Lake Charles.
The restaurant will remain family-owned and operated. The Periouxs were kind enough to let us leverage their legacy to seed the future of our industry, and relinquished the reins to their son, Nic Perioux. As a third generation restaurateur, Nic has spent many years prepping for this day and can recall when he first started with the restaurant back in middle school.
My parents truly deserve this recognition, because they’re the perfect example that good things don’t come easy,” said Nic. “They worked hard while doing a great job raising their kids, and I’m fortunate to carry on the tradition.”
To commemorate such an occasion, the LRA hosted a unique dining experience featuring a 5-course meal designed by five area chefs to showcase their skills and the fall season’s flavors. The culinary experience included Pujo St. Café, Clean Juice, Coushatta Casino Resort, Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel and Casino and The Pioneer Club.
The event included a live and silent auction with attractive prizes such as an overnight package at the Golden Nugget Lake Charles including golf for two and $100 dining credit, a 2-night stay at the Seven Clans Hotel in the Coushatta Casino Resort including golf for two and dinner at Big Sky Steakhouse and a Chef Tasting event for eight, at a location of your choice, with Chef Kevin Thompson of Coushatta Casino Resort and Chef Lyle Broussard of L’auberge Lake Charles.
The dinner generated nearly $15,000, of which a portion will benefit the LRA Education Foundation (LRAEF). The LRAEF, in turn, will use monies raised to further promote the restaurant industry as a career choice through its restaurant management and culinary arts program, ProStart, offered at fifty seven schools statewide. In the Lake Charles area, Sulphur High School and College Street Vocational Center are program participants. It will also enhance the restaurant community through expanded educational and career opportunities, including culinary and hospitality scholarships.
For more information, please contact Britney Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 225-240-7189.