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MRA Report: ProStar Winner, Conference Planning, Politics



When we have a great deal of news to report, why not start with the good news?  Congratulations to the culinary team and the restaurant management team from Sauk Rapids-Rice High School that earned their way to nationals by winning the Minnesota ProStart Invitational tournament in March. Both teams are coached by Mary Levinski. The culinary team prepared lemon seared scallops for its starter, an herb-crusted French-cut pork chop for the entrée and dark chocolate dome cake for dessert. Homegrown Eatery was the restaurant concept presented by the management team. The national competition was held April 27 -29 in Providence, Rhode Island. The event is the country’s premier secondary school competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts. Annually, more than 400 student competitors put their skills to the test in front of industry leaders, family and friends. The ProStart program is now offered at more than 50 Minnesota high schools and involves 3,800 students with 600-plus already working in the industry.

Planning for the 2018 Minnesota Hospitality Conference and Expo is well underway. The event is Wednesday, October 3, at Saint Paul RiverCentre in downtown St. Paul. Please mark your calendars now and save the date. This is the premier education event for the hospitality industry in Minnesota.

  Our keynote speaker for 2018 is Ari Weinzwieg, one of the founders of the famous Zingerman’s Deli and the Zingerman’s family of companies in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Weinzwieg has received rave reviews from a wide variety of audiences in the hospitality industry. His topic is right on point with what we know our members and our industry need to know. He makes leadership specific to our business. Our members know how challenging it is to create a culture that keeps employees engaged, inspired and focused on a common goal. When that culture flounders and employees no longer bring their best selves to work, Weinzwieg calls that “The Energy Crisis in the American Workplace.” In his thought-provoking keynote, he will share “Zingerman’s 12 Natural Laws of Business” from his first book in the Guide to Good Leading series. He’ll explain why operating in violation of the laws is creating this energy crisis. And he’ll present powerfully simple and meaningful ways to help your organization live within the natural laws and become more successful and sustainable, all while creating positive lives for your employees and customers. His message will touch on vision, training, servant leadership, continuous improvement, appreciation and more. 

The Minnesota Hospitality Conference and Expo will also feature:

• Nine education sessions. The topics are selected by our members to bring informative and entertaining speakers to share ideas about how to improve your operations, make more money and manage your staff. 

• 160+ exhibit booths of products and services that help you run your business. The expo is a great place to compare prices, sample foods, discover what’s new and connect with current suppliers.

• Connection Corners. We offer casual conversations on topics related to marketing, operations and workforce issues and great opportunities to share ideas with others in the industry.  Connection Corners were new in 2017 and received very favorable reviews from those in attendance.

We want to recognize the generous sponsors that make this event possible.  Our thanks to these great partners: 

• Heartland Payment Systems

• Ecolab

• US Foods

• Society Insurance

• Upper Lakes Foods

• Monroe, Moxness Berg Law Firm

• Up Coffee Roasters

• Reinhart Foodservice

• KLB Insurance

• Venus Group

• Ameripride

There are still sponsorship and exhibit space opportunities available. For more details see our website at
www.hospitalitymn.org/expo.


The minimum wage and whether we should have one on a statewide level is a controversial and complex issue.  The Minnesota Restaurant Association supports a Uniform Labor Standards law that would preempt local governments from having their own minimum wages and their own mandates, such as paid sick leave. Why? Some of our members operate in more than one city and are concerned about having a variety of different rules and also about competing with businesses that have different rules than they need to follow. Minnesota is one of relatively small number of states that allow local wages, which makes the competition in border communities a challenge. However, under current law and the current view of the courts, cities have the authority to set a local wage. That’s the reason we are engaged with the City of St. Paul in a summer-long dialogue being convened by the Citizens League of the Twin Cities on how to proceed on this issue. We’re trying to be good listeners. We’re delighted to have a very large group of our employees engaged in the issue as well. The Facebook group, Service Industry Staff For Change, has about 7,500 participants, many of whom are servers or bartenders. The Restaurant Workers of America are very engaged in St. Paul and at the State Capitol.

We want to be part of the discussion on what the right answer is in St. Paul and we think these are the key questions:

• Should the final city wage be higher than the state wage but lower than in Minneapolis? The economy and the market are different in the Capitol City.

• Tips are important to many of our employees. How can we recognize the importance of tips in the minimum wage?

• Minnesota has a youth wage, as do most countries around the world. Should the city have a youth wage and how should it work?

• The Minneapolis wage is phased in over seven years for most restaurants. Should it have a longer phase-in for St. Paul?

• How should franchised locations be treated in determining a big or small business?

You can follow this issue and the process on www.citizensleague.net or on our site at www.mnrestaurant.org. 

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