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MRA Report: ProStart Teams Excel; Legislative Agenda Items

Congratulations to our talented ProStart teams who represented Minnesota in the National ProStart Invitational, held April 29 to May 1 in Charleston, South Carolina. Elk River High School placed seventh out of 48 participating teams in the culinary competition, our state's highest placement yet at nationals. Sauk Rapids-Rice also made us proud with their presentation in the management competition. Congratulations to these students, teachers and mentors for their accomplishments. The ProStart curriculum for 11th and 12th grade students is now taught by 44 Minnesota high schools with more expected to add the program for the 2017-2018 school year.

The 2017 Minnesota Hospitality Conference and Expo will be held at RiverCentre in St. Paul on Thursday, October 5. Please put the event on your calendar because you really don’t want to miss the premier education opportunity for our industry. We’re very excited to have Chef Gavin Kaysen as our keynote speaker. Kaysen is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute and built his reputation cooking alongside Daniel Boulud in New York.  He is the owner and executive chef of Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis and Bellecour in Wayzata. Kaysen also served as the head coach for Team USA when they took second place in the Bocuse d’Or culinary competition. He was named the Rising Star Chef in 2008 by the James Beard Foundation, and Spoon and Stable was a finalist for the Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant Award in 2015.

In addition to our exciting keynote presentation, the event will include nine education sessions. The topics are chosen by the education committee, which is made up of association members. The sessions are designed for both current and emerging managers and decision makers. We’ll be announcing the exact topics and speakers in coming weeks. General subject areas include: 

Emerging trends in the industry;

Talent recruitment, retention and engagement;

Technology trends and opportunities;

Marketing ideas and strategies.

There is more information at www.hospitalitymn.org/expo. Exhibit space and sponsorship opportunities are still available.

By the time this edition of Foodservice News is published, the 2017 regular session of the Minnesota Legislature will have adjourned, as required by our constitution. As this column goes to press, there are still many important issues that remain unresolved. This is my “what keeps me up at night” list as the process struggles toward a conclusion:

The Uniform Labor Standards proposal to assure that we have a single minimum wage in Minnesota, along with uniform employment law mandates.

An agreement between the governor and the legislature on a budget for the fiscal period that starts on July 1. If that doesn’t happen, we will have another special session and perhaps, unfortunately, a partial shutdown of state government.

A new law to reduce the risk of frivolous lawsuits against restaurants and other businesses under the Americans with Disabilities Act. We support access for the disabled and fairness for Minnesota businesses.

A tax bill that includes property tax relief for businesses that are now shouldering among the highest commercial tax burdens in the country on their real estate.

Check the Minnesota Restaurant Association website for news on how these important issues are resolved at www.mnrestaurant.org.

A staff report to the Minneapolis City Council is expected in late May regarding a higher “city only” minimum wage. The report will summarize what the staff heard during a series of listening sessions that were held over several months. The outcome of a restaurant wage survey is also expected to be included. Information was gathered from 83 Minneapolis restaurants in October 2016. The survey included information that covered 3,743 people who worked 342,381 hours. The report included total taxable income including hourly wages and reported tips. Average hourly earnings were:

  • Cooks $13.67
  • Support $12.55
  • Tipped $28.51

We expect the debate over the minimum wage in Minneapolis to still be going on when this issue is published. For up-to-date information, check www.pathwayto15.org. 

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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