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MRA Report: MN Hospitality Conference & Expo Lineup

I know that it’s only August, but the 2017 Minnesota Hospitality Conference & Expo will be upon us before you know it. If you haven’t done so yet, please mark your calendar for Thursday, October 5, for the event at RiverCentre in St. Paul. This is the premier education and networking opportunity for our industry each year and should be a “can’t miss it” priority for all of us. 

Our keynote speaker will be James Beard award finalist chef and restaurateur, Gavin Kaysen, owner of Spoon & Stable in Minneapolis and Bellecour in Wayzata. His address, “The Power of One Decision," promises to be inspirational and thought provoking. A native Minnesotan, Gavin got his start in a sandwich shop in south Minneapolis; his career has taken him around the world and back home again. Today, he is a leader in the industry with a passion for cooking as well as mentoring young culinarians on their career path. You’ll enjoy hearing his story of how writing a letter, communicating with your team or choosing a mentor can affect the course of your career. Gavin will illustrate how the power of one decision can impact your life's path in hospitality. Our Minnesota Hospitality Conference & Expo also includes nine seminars selected by members of the Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort and Campground associations. The sessions and their presenters include: 

Hospitality Secrets: Creating a Positive Culture — Stuart Gray, Hospitality Rocks

How to Manage Your Digital Reputation—Andrew Leintz, DAYTA Marketing

Maximizing OTAs in Your Revenue Strategy (for hotel/motel and resort operators)—Garth Peterson, IdeAS Revenue SolutionsTech 

Trends: The Future of Technology in Hospitality — Adam Hasley, National Restaurant Association; Maryam Cope, American Hotel & Lodging Association

Creating Your 2020 Hospitality Vision — Stuart Gray, Hospitality Rocks

Get ‘Em and Keep ‘Em: Employee Recruitment and Retention — Benjamin Thoen, Black Woods Group;  Tawnya Stewart, Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures

Building Your Brand Using Social Media—Melissa Budensiek and Bernie Lauer, Hubbard Interactive

Stories From the Stove: Chefs’ Panel —Paul Lynch, Hyatt Regency Bloomington-Minneapolis; Sarah Master, Red Stag Supper Club; Steven Schuster, formerly with the Minneapolis Convention Center; moderator John Schilz, Lake Elmo Inn 

A Pathway Forward: Navigating the Higher Minimum Wage—panel presentation of industry veterans

A new feature of the Conference and Expo for 2017 will be three Connection Corners offering informal idea exchanges on technology, marketing and workforce issues.  Thank you to Clear Sight & Sound for sponsoring the technology Connection Corner; sponsorship is still available for the other two.

With an expo stage, giveaways and other activities, you obviously won’t be able to take in everything yourself so be sure to bring your team to cover it all. Registration is free so there’s no reason not to bring a whole group. Register today at www.hospitalitymn.org/attend.html!

We want to recognize the generosity and leadership of our event sponsors: 

Ecolab • Heartland Payment Systems

UP Coffee Roasters • Reinhart Foodservice

AmeriPride Linen & Uniform Services

Sysco • Upper Lakes Foods

CBIZ • Clear Sight & Sound

 We expect our best turnout ever and look forward to seeing you at RiverCentre in St. Paul on October 5.


$15 Passed. Now What Happens?

Many of you have followed the debate in Minneapolis over a higher local minimum wage. The City Council passed and Mayor Hodges signed an ordinance on June 30 which will phase in a minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour by 2022 for large employers and by 2024 for small employers. Despite the incredible efforts by many people, the industry was unable to convince the council that tips are income and should count toward a high minimum wage. The new ordinance does not recognize tips nor create a much needed youth wage. The law applies to all employers in the city of Minneapolis, but excludes the U.S. government, the state of Minnesota, and any county or local government, other than the city of Minneapolis. (see table)

A small employer is one with 100 or fewer employees and a large employer has more than 100 employees. The details make it more complex than that, of course.

An employer’s business size for the current calendar year is based upon the average number of employees who worked for compensation per week during the previous calendar year.

In determining the number of employees, all persons performing work for compensation on a full-time, part-time, joint, or temporary basis shall be counted, whether or not the persons work in the city.

Franchised businesses of a brand that has 10 or more locations nationally are a large employer in Minneapolis regardless of the number of employees at a location in the city.

Each full-service restaurant location within the geographic boundaries of the city and with fewer than 10 locations nationally, shall be treated as a unique employer solely for the purposes of determining business size. For other types of businesses, a company with two or more locations in the city or 10 or more locations nationally is a large business for the minimum wage.


There is a training wage of 85 percent of the minimum wage for the first 90 calendar days of employment for workers not yet 20 years of age in city approved training programs. We will need more information on what this means.

There are also some exceptions for programs providing services to special needs workers including the state's extended employment program. 

There is an old bromide about the difference between battles and wars. Our industry lost the battle in Minneapolis and that loss will have consequences for our members and for their employees and guests.  We haven’t given up on making a difference on this issue. What is next:

Education on what the new Minneapolis law requires and the timelines.

Education and, more importantly, discussions on the options for adapting to a higher minimum wage. There won’t be a single right answer but there will be best practices that develop.  Look for a “Hot Topic” workshop announcement on this issue.

Look for opportunities to work with Minneapolis Council Members to improve or adjust their ordinance in the future to lesson the impacts on employees and to mitigate unintended consequences.

Our thanks to the hundreds of restaurant owners, operators and employees who engaged in the discussion in Minneapolis and worked so very hard to advance a Pathway to $15 as a better idea. 

Dan McElroy is executive vice president of the Minnesota Restaurant Association and president and CEO of Hospitality Minnesota, which also includes the Lodging and Resort & Campground associations.

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